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JA Executive Summary Report

Utilizing Data to Empower and Promote Our Diplomates  

You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.

In a world driven by data, the acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) profession must be armed with accessible demographic, clinical practice and effectiveness metrics in order to compete in the ever growing world of healthcare. As evidenced by the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, adults in the United States spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on visits to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and the use of acupuncture services is continuing to grow. [1]

The NCCAOM Board of Commissioners and staff is committed to ensuring that we can address the following questions: How can we ensure that consumers seek NCCAOM® Diplomates versus other healthcare providers who are practicing acupuncture? How can the NCCAOM establish itself as the resource for the AOM profession, the media and the public? What steps can we take to receive federal government recognition of acupuncturists? The answer to all of these questions points towards the necessity to collect reliable and valid workforce and clinical effectiveness data; therefore, it is imperative that information about the profession is collected and available in the public domain in order for acupuncturists to be recognized as a distinct profession which is recognized by the federal government. This will lead to titling and new job opportunities in the U.S. government, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the private sector healthcare organizations.

The NCCAOM’s Job Analysis (JA) surveys have played a vital role in the collection of data about the AOM profession. The NCCAOM® Diplomate demographic and clinical practice characteristics data, collected from the 2008 and 2013 JA studies continue to be shared with governmental agencies and employers who are developing policies, protocols and occupational recognition of acupuncturists so that they may be employed or contracted to deliver acupuncture services in our healthcare system. Although the primary purpose of a JA study is to validate the content of our certification exams, the NCCAOM has leveraged this research investment to disseminate benchmark reports for our Diplomates and other interested parties. The NCCAOM first started collecting workforce related information for the AOM profession in 2008 via the JA.  The few demographic questions needed to validate the NCCAOM exam content e.g. location of practice, type of practice setting, and years in practice, were expanded to include more than 20 different demographic and clinical practice survey questions. Captured for the first time for the AOM profession, nationally, pertinent data such as income based on hours worked and questions which demonstrate growth based on practice setting, number of patient visits per week, and conditions treated were captured, comprehensively for the first time for the AOM profession. The 2013 JA was also the first to collect data, via a random stratified design methodology, from licensed acupuncturists who are not NCCAOM certified, as well as NCCAOM Diplomates, resulting in capturing a wider spectrum of licensed practitioners. The full Executive Summary for the 2013 JA is now available on the NCCAOM website. See “What’s New”.

What does this data mean for the AOM profession and for you as an NCCAOM Diplomate? This data is crucial for establishing acupuncturists as a recognized, separate and distinct profession with federal agencies such as the Department of Labor’s Bureau Statistics. Over the past several years, the NCCAOM, in collaboration with other AOM National organizations, made tremendous progress towards this goal. For more information on the historical progress towards the BLS goal, you can read the Acupuncture Today articles “NCCAOM Seeks Federal Recognition of the Profession” (2008) andGaining an Independent Occupational Code with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics” from this year. In July of 2014, the NCCAOM officially submitted a request to the BLS Standard Occupation Classification Policy Committee (SOCPC) requesting that “Acupuncturists” be given an independent occupational code. Please see the final request submission via this link. Through the collaboration and support of AOM organizational leaders and our Diplomates, we are on track to gain recognition for acupuncturists through the BLS Standards of Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The NCCAOM will keep you posted on future correspondence as it is received from the BLS. A second Federal Register notice, requesting comments on the SOC recommendations is expected by Spring 2015, followed by a final decision by late 2016 or early 2017.

As an NCCAOM Diplomate, another way the NCCAOM is disseminating data from the JA’s is by publishing reports with meaningful demographics and clinical practice data such as number of patient visits by week, income by year and frequency of conditions treated by AOM practitioners. You can utilize this data to distinguish yourselves to your patients, healthcare colleagues and others from other healthcare practitioners and show that the profession is growing in many ways. Additionally, this document titled Descriptive Demographic and Clinical Practice Profile of Acupuncturists: An Executive Summary from the NCCAOM® 2013 Job Analysis Survey may also provide policy makers with information necessary to contrast the depth and breadth of AOM competencies between licensed acupuncturists who hold NCCAOM certification and those health care professionals who desire to practice AOM after an abbreviated training program laid on top of their foundational degree in another health related discipline (e.g. Medical Doctor, Chiropractic Doctor, Naturopathic Doctor).

I hope that you, as an NCCAOM Diplomate take some time to review this benchmark report and  let us know if you find the data informative to your practice. It has been over a year since the NCCAOM has collected demographic and clinical practice data via a confidential, voluntary survey offered to all Diplomates who recertify with the NCCAOM. This demographic data is also being used to create customized reports for external organizations and agencies requesting aggregate profile data on our Diplomates, so thank you to all who have completed this survey during the last two years. As always, please feel free to contact the NCCAOM Executive Office via the NCCAOM website with any questions or suggestions for improving our external surveys.


[1] Nahin, RL, Barnes PM, Stussman BJ, and Bloom B. Costs of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Frequency of Visits to CAM Practitioners: United States, 2007 [360KB PDF]. National health statistics reports; no 18. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2009.

rred future for the AOM profession. Consider how you can be a part of molding the profession’s future. Thank you all for your support of the NCCAOM and being a part of our team. Together we are positioned to have a very influential impact on the AOM profession for years to come. No matter what your personal Chinese zodiac animal birth sign is – be it the Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, Tiger or Rabbit, you all provide the collective traits which will make this year of the Wood Horse a successful year for the AOM profession.

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