Report and Opinions from NMSAAM VP Yvonne Wylie Walston, DOM
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Vice President for the last three years, first with Steve Malins as President and then two years with John Scott as President.
As a member of NMSAAM since 2013 and a Board Member at Large for several years, I have been with our Society long enough to see that we have incredible potential. We can work together to be a community for one another, to help educate the public about how our holistic medicine can help them, and to work with our legislature to bring our medicine to the forefront alongside other healthcare systems.
We have been blessed with John Scott as our wise President for the last two years. It will be good for some of us to follow up with the NMSAAM Proposal for an Exploratory Committee that Dr. Scott instigated, so that we can move forward with fruitful communications and results between the important acupuncture bodies in New Mexico.
At the 2019 and 2020 NM Legislative Sessions, I was privileged to organize the schedule for NM DOMs and participate myself in NMSAAM sponsored treatment demonstrations for legislators and their staff, an honor that DOMs have participated in for many years, although the Covid-19 pandemic may alter this tradition.
We have had three websites in two years, due to an unforeseen crash and a rebuild, and then our choice of moving forward with being connected to the American Society of Acupuncturists, our national society. When our BOD did decide to go with the ASA web platform, I was Project Manager for the NMSAAM site. Thus, last fall I updated the writing and visuals, pulling in technical expertise from Steve Malins and Elene Gusch as needed. Elene Gusch and Jennifer Rysanek then worked with our valuable members after the new site went live January 21, 2020. We will find that our new website will become increasingly important for us as we use it as a communication tool within NMSAAM as well as for the general public.
When possible, Dr. Scott and I have attended ASA meetings together, and at times I have attended the now teleconferences by myself when he has been too busy.
Nationally as acupuncturists, in my opinion, we may have reached a milestone. A little over a year ago, after 10 years of work by the ASA and others, the Department of Labor settled on a legal term for us: Acupuncturists. Yes, it is a reductionist term, because we do more than acupuncture, but it is a term that we can use. Having that label may well give us more credence and national flexibility for a variety of applications, from direct pay acupuncturists in a solo office, with other acupuncturists within insurances plans, to working within our government or within a hospital.
It has also been coming to light again that the term Oriental is offensive to some folks historically and currently. You may have seen the ASA/NCCAOM town halls online that were in response to the Covid-19 this spring, as well as the most recent from-the-trenches town hall on August 19, the Conversations Around Racism, Bias, Equity and the Acupuncture Profession. Acupuncture organizations across the country are currently trying to figure out how to replace the word Oriental. We have just begun discussing this again within the Board of Directors of NMSAAM, and we feel that it is time to put this question before our full NMSAAM membership for consideration.
In New Mexico, our professional license is Doctor of Oriental Medicine, DOM.
In Rhode Island, acupuncturists have the professional license title, Doctor of Acupuncture, D.Acu. In Florida, it is Acupuncture Physicians, AP. In Hawaii, it is Doctor of Acupuncture, DAc.
What then could be a new license designation? Possibilities include: Doctor of Acupuncture, DA or DAc or Acupuncture Physician, AP or AcP, and Acupuncture Doctor, AD or AcD.
Some good reasons to possibly consider change from DOM include:
- Many New Mexicans have no idea what a Doctor of Oriental Medicine is, so we have to educate them that we are acupuncturists.
- The Department of Labor now has us legally designated as Acupuncturists.
- The term Oriental is offensive to many people, and may not communicate what we want, which can impede effective communication.
- Having the term Acupuncture within our license designation will give quick recognition in an age where we need to communicate quickly.
- Our legislature may now be especially aware that racism is a public health crisis.
On the other hand, it would be expensive and time-consuming to change DOM to something else, and there would be consequences. It would have to go before the New Mexico legislature and we would have to change all of our cards, brochures, websites, etc. What would be the unintended consequences? Are there other priorities?
On September 27, we will have our annual meeting via Zoom, which will save travel time and gas, enabling many who would not normally be able to attend in person. We will actually do our NMSAAM elections via Zoom polling with an anonymous ballot. You have already been sent the Zoom link by email, and we look forward to seeing you!