Four organizations typically form the cornerstones of most professions. These include (1) a group that represents the professionals (AAAOM); (2) a group that represents the schools (CCAOM, Council of Colleges); (3) a group that accredits those schools (ACAOM); and (4) a group that handles certification testing (NCCAOM). These are the historical “cornerstone” organizations in acupuncture. Where does the Guild fit? We are an adjunct group like the Society of Acupuncture Research (SAR) or CSA which are historical invitees to the AOML. However, to my knowledge the Guild has never been invited. We are a group of acupuncture professionals with a special interest in earning a living wage. The Guild also stands for evidence based acupuncture research, highest standards for practice qualifications, transparency of the cornerstone groups, legislative uniformity, and protection of our members right to work. The Guild shares many of these principles mostly with the more recent incarnation of the AAAOM. Historically, the leadership groups and the Guild have not seen eye to eye. This appears to be changing. Collaboration may be coming like the river that was thawing outside the hotel.
The Guild was not represented at the AOML conference in 2015. Steve Paine requested to attend as a representative of NGAOM. He was advised to wait until 2016. I (Steve Stumpf) attended under the AAAOM umbrella. The 2015 AOML was the 11th consecutive meeting of AOM leaders. The meeting is hosted by CCAOM. The leadership groups that return each year (I think) are the four cornerstones plus SAR and the CSA.
Jason Wright, Dean of Finger Lakes College, is the new CCAOM President. He follows a long reign by his predecessor. Wright did a fine job moderating the day long meeting. He was fair and solicitous of all groups present.
Transparency was an important – and unexpected – theme. ACAOM Executive Director Mark McKenzie introduced it. NCCAOM Executive Director Kory Ward-Cook echoed it. As McKenzie put it, along the “continuum of transparency” ACAOM has historically been at the low end.
What does it mean to be “transparent?” A question posed by a CCAOM member made clear the concerns of college admins. “Are you referring to posting the action letters?” Action letters are deficiency notices to colleges that follow an ACAOM review. ACAOM agrees to keep these documents confidential. This is a practice that is not transparent. It is also a practice that is futile. Other public agencies post acupuncture schools’ “action” letters which in the public arena are known as “citations.” In California, the Bureau of Private and Public Education lists citations by schools https://www.dca.ca.gov/webapps/bppe/annual_report.php.
I do not know about other states but I would guess the same holds true.
At the AOML meeting NCCAOM Executive Director Kory Ward-Cook signaled NCCAOM is ready to operate with greater transparency. The statements of these two cornerstone orgs made clear that there is only one group left that, by deduction, must step up to a new standard. McKenzie also suggested the impact of Gainful Employment Guidelines could be profound for CCAOM members: “As many as half the schools could be closed in three years.” We will write more about these guidelines that become effective July 1.
Fresh start? Maybe. This much is clear. Issues the Guild has sponsored since 2012 – transparency, inclusiveness – became focal points at AOML 2015. The Guild will continue to work with those orgs (AAAOM, CAOMA, ACAOM, NCCAOM) that share our vision. The position of CCAOM on transparency remains opaque. McKenzie did ask if CCAOM had discussed the issue. The answer was nope.
At the end of the long day, Jason Wright called for suggestions for groups not represented in 2015 that might be invited in 2016. POCA and NGAOM were named. There was no resistance. I would like to see a Chinese/Korean group invited. Fresh voices are needed to continue the movement towards the mainstream.
My thanks to AAAOM for inviting me. I attended as a candidate for the Public Director in their org. I will accept that role if elected. Steve Paine will attend the AOML as the Guild rep in 2016.