Landmark acupuncture bill by Assemblywoman Judy Chu signed by Governor Davis

On September 23, Governor Gray Davis signed landmark legislation by Assemblywoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) that will increase curriculum hours for students who enter acupuncture training programs beginning January 1, 2005.

Current law, established by the California State Acupuncture Board in 1984, requires that acupuncture and Oriental medicine training programs include a minimum curriculum of 2,348 hours.

Assembly Bill 1943 was written to partially implement the recommendations of the California Acupuncture Board’s Task Force on Competencies and Outcomes, on which two dozen professional acupuncturists and representatives from major acupuncture schools participated. After meeting for nine months to review and discuss existing curricula, standards of practice, reports, and surveys, the Task Force voted in April to recommend a minimum 3,000 hour curriculum, which the California Acupuncture Board voted unanimously to adopt at their May 2002 meeting.

Assemblywoman Chu introduced AB 1943 on behalf of its sponsor, the Council of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Associations, in ‘order to improve educational standards and quality of care for individuals practicing acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the state of California. The profession and Assemblywoman Chu, who has a doctorate degree in clinical psychology; felt that improved professional standards would result in increased quality of care for consumers and would produce a pool of more confident and experienced acupuncture practitioners who would be better prepared to meet the rising demand for the competent provision of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and other Oriental medicine services.

“I applaud Governor Davis for his approval on AB 1943 and his support for the Oriental medicine and acupuncture profession. This bill represents a major victory for the acupuncture profession and one step toward greater acceptance of the Asian healing arts in California’s healthcare system,” Assemblywoman Chu commented.

Dr. Ta Fang Chen, acupuncturist and president of the Council of Acupuncture Organizations, further added, “The acupuncturist profession, the Asian-American community, and the public owe a doubt of gratitude to Assemblywoman Judy Chu for her support of our traditional medicine. We believe that everyone must have access to Oriental medicine of a high standard.”

The next step in the process will be for the Acupuncture Board to implement the 3,000 hour standard into new regulatory codes, and to direct schools to update their curriculum for students entering school on January 1,2005. Since most schools already require over 3,000 hours for graduation, they will have few changes to make.

Additionally, the new law recommends that the Little Hoover Commission study future standards for education, specifically educational programs from 3,000 to 4,000 hours, and to provide recommendations as to whether currently licensed practitioners would need to meet any additional licensing standards when such a new standard is adopted.

According to historical documents, the profession has long endorsed the development of a 4,000-hour first professional doctorate degree as entry level for the Oriental medicine profession, with the potential for post-graduate specialty programs to follow, similar to physicians and chiropractors. Such programs do not yet exist.

Supporters of AB 1943 and the higher educational standards it represents included the multiple professional acupuncture organizations in California, the American Association of Oriental Medicine, the National Guild of Acupuncture of Oriental Medicine, various labor unions, a chamber of commerce, South Baylo University, Southern California University of Health Sciences, and many individual acupuncturists and students. Democratic and Republican legislators alike supported the bi-partisan bill.

COPYRIGHT 2002 The Townsend Letter Group

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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