Every year, our state association, the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (IAAOM), hosts a dinner to bring our community of acupuncturists and students together to talk about all over the changes and goals for our profession that have come about over the last year. It typically coincides with the Chinese New Year. We get to enjoy dinner, listen to speakers, as well as network and reconnect with colleagues. As an added bonus, I won a new book in the raffle and walked away with a seminar on treating infertility with acupuncture principles that I bid on in the silent auction.
National University of Health Sciences students at the 2018 Chinese New Year Celebration: Marcella Jones, Christy Decker, Sarah Montesa, and Alex Duarte
This year there was a lot of celebration over the new Illinois Acupuncture Practice Act which when into effect at the beginning of the year, broadening the scope of how we can treat patients. With this practice act, we also settled an ongoing issue that our profession has had pertaining to non-acupuncturists, more specifically physical therapists, using dry needling as a treatment modality. Our state now has one of the most limited definitions of what constitutes dry needling and requires the most training for people to perform it protecting patients and our livelihood.
The other big topic of discussion involved the opioid epidemic and the lobbying that our profession was doing to be included as part of the solution. The treatment of chronic pain is estimated to cost around $635 billion per year in healthcare and wages/productivity lost. Opioids aren't the only problem as over the counter NSAIDs and Acetaminophen send over 80,000 Americans to ER in a year. (http://www.asacu.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Acupuncture-Before-Opioids.pdf) The hope is that lobbying will lead to improved access to integrative medical care, allowing those who would not have otherwise been able to afford it to receive treatment.
Across all of the different programs at National, we learn so many techniques to care for patients experiencing pain, whether it be through chiropractic manipulation, massage therapy, acupuncture, or hydrotherapy. I am happy to be in a position where I will be able to make a difference with this issue.
So my take away for this week is, join the local and national associations for your profession. It's good to know that there are people out there fighting to make it easier for you to do the work that you want to do once all of the schooling is done. Being a member is an easy way to stay involved.