Acupuncture Continuing Education Loophole

I hate to blow the whistle and say “This is wrong”, but I think if I want to be taken seriously as a practitioner our profession here in Texas needs to clean up it’s act. It is dangerous for me to write this article because it puts me in the crosshairs of our multi-million-tax-dollar a year licensing board which regulates approximately 1000 acupuncturists.

I work hard writing about the War on Acupuncture and other terrible things other professions do. But this is the first time I write against my own profession! This article is an attempt to blow the whistle on a loophole happening with Texas acupuncturists and how the licensing board, created to protect the public, is allowing this activity.

Why is continuing education important?

Continuing education is a serious thing in professional medical circles. As the paradigms of science and medicine advance it is vital for current licensed practitioners to stay with the cutting edge of medicine. This was created to protect the public from physicians, who being licensed 40-50 years ago, would be practicing dangerously antiquated medicine. (Despite this some physicians still recommend artificial butter spreads in lieu of real butter, despite the known toxicity of trans fats)

The continuing education requirements imposed upon medical practitioners are created to protect the public and are enforced by licensing boards which regulate professions on behalf of the public, with public tax dollars.

The loophole

In Texas, acupuncturists have a loophole to get around continuing education requirements that are designed to protect the public. I call it the “Great Acupuncture Continuing Education Loophole”. Essentially the loophole allows the acupuncturist to retake the same continuing education coursework resulting in saving money and time. I personally have never met any acupuncturists who do this, but I know they are out there as evidenced by this leaked email from the presiding officer of the Texas Acupuncture Board. He even sanctions the activity! (I redacted the names and addresses and phone numbers.)

So you can retake the same classes currently, but should be careful of overtaking same course too many times.

-Presiding Officer of the Texas Board Of Acupuncture Examiners

I believe retaking continuing education course, for whatever reason, is beyond unethical for medical practitioners. “…too many times” means, “it’s okay from time to time.” It’s never okay! It’s just wrong! The public is paying taxes and trusting that the government will protect it from derelicts.

I think he meant to say was, “Even though the law allows you to retake it, don’t do this because it is unethical, can injure the public, and will get you in trouble when we figure out how to close this loophole.”

In my opinion, as acupuncturists, we need to keep ourselves to the HIGHEST standard of medicine. We face so much discrimination and marginalization, it’s vital to demonstrate professionalism and competence. Yet the board created to protect the public will allow a loophole like this to exist?

I’m going to request that the board close this loophole.

Moving forward

If you’re a member of the general public. I am sorry you’re reading this article, but please remember our profession, in the majority of cases, functions well above regulatory laws. Despite the loophole the profession is ‘organically’ improving its continuing education beyond the minimum standards imposed by the government.

  • Universities, like the Texas Health and Science University have a complete, and unique, training program to keep practitioners here in Texas (and outside) on the cutting edge. Their program exceeds the minimum requirements of continuing education that almost all boards in the USA have, let alone Texas.
  • New Start ups are advancing the clinical techniques of our profession and integrating medical education with training on how to implement and introduce the new techniques into the marketplace with good ethics and business acumen. (See Newswire’s article on Disrupting the Continuing education Industry. I’m quoted in the article.)
  • Continuing education can also benefit non profits like the Acupuncture Now Foundation. They host training and the revenue goes towards educating the public and policy makers.
  • Part of the reason the loophole exists is because Acupuncturists are trying to save money. But saving money is no excuse. There is advanced medical training that practitioners can learn for free from Medigogy.com.

It appears that even when the government fails us, ultimately acupuncturists rise up and elevate the profession on our own, well above and beyond the minimum standards.