Message from the AAMA Board

The Role of Medical Acupuncturist in the Time of COVID

If you are a medical acupuncturist like me, you are probably a bit … different … from your peers. You are probably a bit more willing to observe and see things that you don’t have a ready explanatory model for. You are probably a bit less risk averse than the general population and your peers. You probably are also a bit more willing to commit to exploring the boundaries of your knowledge and be more comfortable with uncertainty than average. You are probably prone to thinking the world is a bigger place than what we have been traditionally taught. You are probably willing to try new things to help your patients, peers and family —even when it’s not conventional. You are probably a bit better at listening and hearing where someone else is coming from. Basically, you are a bit weird.

As a medical acupuncturist, you are by your very nature and practice trying to synthesize a greater world out of what at least on the surface may seem to be disparate parts. You are a round peg in a square-hole world, a square peg in a round-hole world, a hexagon in a rhomboid, or whatever (I don’t want to mis-assign anyone’s identity).

My journey to acupuncture was odd, as I suspect many of yours were. Going from medicine to decision science to operations research to computer science to systems engineering to mind-body medicine, all the while immersing myself in martial arts, eastern philosophical traditions, and ethics. An atypical path for most, but perhaps a typical path for a medical acupuncturist.

It is both personal practice and what I teach my students to try to simultaneously cultivate three types of areas: (1) areas where one is a master of a set of skills, (2) areas where one has growing competence and (3) at least one area where one is a complete novice, or as my daughter might say, where I am a “clueless newb.”  Cultivating mastery with the beginner’s mind allows one both confidence and grounding, as well as a joyousness of curiosity. Medical acupuncture is a discipline that allows one to be both master and student easily.

Your own personal journeys have led many of you to become translators of thought from one group to another. There is no time I can recall where this skill and talent has not been more needed. After two years of COVID pandemic, as clinicians we have seen several phenomena raise their heads. On the clinical side, we have seen disorders like long-COVID syndrome, which seem resistant to reductionist medicine but might respond to a more holistic approach. On the human side, we have seen injury caused by tribalism, denialism, misinformation and resource constraints, resulting in despair and burnout.

There is no more important time to be the example and not the lesson.  To follow the way, commit to exemplary behavior and to embody the golden rule (something both Lao tse and Gong fuzi agreed upon).  As I tell my students, the golden rule implies action in the world.  The first act of the golden rule is to recognize the humanity and human value in someone else. The second is to let that recognition guide you in actions both specific and general. Or as Maimonides is reported to have said, “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you. The rest is commentary.”

The lessons learned from bringing friends and family back from tribes, cults and denialism are patience, compassion and nonjudgmental listening, while also being true to yourself. People can only grab your hand if it is open. As I tell my students, keep an open mind but not so open your brain falls out. The curiosity, compassion and openness you have cultivated to become a medical acupuncturist place you in a good position to help those around you. As the pandemic starts transitioning to endemic and life begins to take on a more normal shape and rhythm, there will be a great need for healing.  All those tendencies that made you “different” are the ones we need now.

James E Stahl MD, DABMA, CM, MPH
AAMA Board of Directors

Serve on the AAMA Board of Directors and/or Committees

The Academy is a member-driven organization. Members of the Academy serve on the Board of Directors and on Committees advising the Board and make decisions regarding the priorities, programs and activities of our organization. They help guide the future of the Academy. All members are invited to take part in this volunteer governance process. You can take on a small task with a clearly defined time commitment, or you can play a more significant leadership role as a member of a standing committee or as a Board member. Committee volunteers are welcome year-round. The Board of Directors holds elections in the spring each year, when Directors and Officers are chosen by the members to guide the Academy for the following year. If you are interested in being considered for a seat on the Board of Directors, please reach out and let us know. We welcome your inquiry! Learn more.

Upcoming Professional Development & Educational Opportunities

AAMA Website: An Integrative Approach to Low Back Pain and Dysfunction
Presenter: Jay Sandweiss, DO, FAAMA
90-minute Live Webinar
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
8pm EST, 7pm CST, 5pm PST

AAMA Annual Review Course
March 18-April 14, 2022

2022 AAPM Annual Meeting: Today and Tomorrow in Pain Medicine: Innovations and Practical Applications
Scottsdale, AZ
March 17-20

NEW! 2022 Core Refresher Course
Cincinatti, OH
May 4, 2022

2022 AAMA Annual Symposium
Cincinnati, OH
May 5-8, 2022

2022 International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health
Phoenix, AZ
May 23-26, 2022

Bologna, Itlaly
October 14-16, 2022

AAMA Website: Education Listings
The AAMA maintains an ongoing calendar of educational events and professional development opportunities related to medical acupuncture. The calendar is accessible on the AAMA website. Members are encouraged to share events and calendar items from their regions and about educational topics that may be of wider interest among peers and fellow AAMA members.

AAMA News & Announcements

Welcome Our New & Returning AAMA Members

Please join us in welcoming the following new members who became part of the Academy in January 2022.

  • Jonson J. Lin, MD, of Redlands, CA
  • Arnaldo R Quinones, MD, of San Juan, PR
  • Monear A. Qoqandi, MD, LAc, of Jeddeh, Saudi Arabia
  • Emily W. Frank, MD, of Oakland, CA
  • Kathleen McKenzie, DO, of Smithtown, NY
  • Elaine Liu, MD, of Bellevue, WA
  • Edward T. Hui, MD, of Portland, OR

If you have peers or colleagues who aren’t currently members of the AAMA, please encourage them to learn more about the benefits of membership by visiting the website or contacting Janice Brown, the membership committee chair.

Physician Completes 10-Year ABMA Re-certification Process

Congratulations to the following physician who has completed the process ( set by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture (ABMA) to be re-certified as a Diplomate for another 10 years:

  • Alison Lee, MD, FAAMA, of Walled Lake, MI

AAMA Legislative Committee Report

The Legislative Committee continues its work monitoring and responding to legislation relevant to our members and their practice of medical acupuncture. Currently, the committee is monitoring 58 bills regarding acupuncture, chronic pain, substance use disorder, and dry needling. Activity of note includes:

  1. A letter was sent to sponsors of Kentucky HB58 requesting an amendment to include physician acupuncturists as providers of treatments for chronic pain. Representative Stevenson replied that this will be addressed as the bill goes to committee.
  2. A representative of the Legislative Committee gave written testimony opposing New Hampshire SB290 which would permit unlicensed persons to perform auriculotherapy.
  3. Letters were submitted in opposition to Hawaii HB1679 and SB2276. The bills would allow certain LAcs to practice internal medicine and call themselves “acupuncture medicine physicians.”

The Legislative Committee will continue to watch for bills that affect AAMA members and respond to the authors and co-sponsors appropriately. We will also contact YOU when legislation in your state may affect your ability to practice acupuncture. In that event, we ask that you write your representatives and senators since they prefer to hear directly from their constituents. If you learn of relevant legislative activity, please connect with the committee by email:

2022 Annual Symposium – Dates, Deadlines & Details

The Annual AAMA Symposium will be held in-person, May 5-8, 2022, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, OH. Make plans now to re-connect with friends and colleagues at this four-day educational event!

Symposium Objectives

  • Expand awareness of scientific research into the effects of acupuncture.
  • Focus on clinically relevant treatment approaches that can easily be integrated into clinical practice.
  • Introduce attendees to a variety of approaches for the treatment of common conditions seen in clinical practice.
  • Teach attendees new ways to tailor acupuncture treatments to their individual patients.
  • Provide time for networking with leaders, peers and friends who practice medical acupuncture.

Early-Bird Discount

Register now and save up to $50! The early-registration discount ends February 25, 2022. Registrations received after April 1 will be charged the late registration fee. Register now.

Hotel Details

The Annual AAMA Symposium will be held in-person, May 5-8, 2022, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, OH. The AAMA has negotiated a discounted rate of $184 + tax/night. Register now. The discount expires April 13, 2022, or whenever the room block sells out.

Pre-Symposium Workshops

The following workshops are scheduled for Thursday, May 5, 2022. Attendees may select one workshop as an optional add-on to expand the educational opportunities provided at the Symposium. (There is an additional fee to attend a Pre-Symposium Workshop.) View workshop schedule.

  • Auricular Acupuncture Microsystem presented by Nader Soliman, MD, FAAMA
  • Balance Methods presented by Eileen Yue-Ling Han PhD, LAc
  • Simplifying Constitutional Diagnosis presented by Jeffrey Meyers, MD, LAc
  • 20 Years of Neijing Research presented by Edward Neal, MD, MSOM

2022 Medical Acupuncture Review Course (March 18-April 14, 2022)

The Medical Acupuncture Review Course provides an online/virtual, broad-based refresher course on the major subject matter areas with which a well-trained physician should be familiar. The review course is especially useful as a refresher for (1) those who obtained their acupuncture training some time ago and for (2) those who are seeking an organized review prior to taking the ABMA Board Certification Examination.


The overall objectives of the Medical Acupuncture Review Course are for a participant to be able to:

  • Analyze and solidify previously acquired knowledge and experience in medical acupuncture
  • Organize and reinforce understanding of the basic material appropriate for a physician practicing acupuncture in North America
  • Differentiate and examine participant’s previous studies of certain specialized aspects of acupuncture not always utilized in traditional practice

Learn more about the 2022 Medical Acupuncture Review Course now.

Are You Eligible to Become a Fellow of the AAMA?

To be nominated to Fellow of the Academy one must submit an application documenting the following:

  • Possess an MD or DO degree or equivalent.
  • Be licensed to practice as an MD, DO or homeopathic physician in the US or Canada.
  • Be Board Certified by the American Board of Medical Acupuncture.
  • Be a current Full member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.
  • Have a minimum of five years of Western medicine practice experience or be Board Certified in his or her medical specialty.
  • Have a minimum of four years of clinical experience in medical acupuncture since completing a basic training program in medical acupuncture.
  • Have published or have accepted for publication an acupuncture related article in a recognized medical periodical.


  • Have documented ten hours or more of experience teaching medical professionals on acupuncture related topics.

Want to learn more?

New! Good Faith Estimate Requirement for Billing

The Good Faith Estimate (GFE) provision of the No Surprises Act, effective 1/1/22, says that “a GFE must be provided to all uninsured (or self-pay) individuals who schedule items or services or request a GFE. A GFE is required even if there is a set price for the service because the actual billed charges may not reflect the anticipated set price for the service at the time of estimate.”

Calls for Papers/Submissions

Are You Following Us?

Join the conversations online with fellow physician acupuncturists from around the country! You can find AAMA on:

There’s even a closed group on Facebook for discussion between members:

In Case You Missed It Last Month

JAMA: Trends in Insurance Coverage for Acupuncture, 2010-2019

From JAMA Network – Research Letter, Complementary and Alternative Medicine

“Acupuncture is recommended as part of comprehensive pain care for low back pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia by agencies including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Additional evidence indicates that complementary and alternative medicine, including acupuncture, is associated with reductions in total health care spending among patients with chronic back pain.

Research suggests that insurance coverage for acupuncture is inconsistent, although there is a lack of published data concerning coverage in most states.One survey of 45 commercial, Medicaid, and Medicare Advantage (ie, Part C) health plans found that only one-third of plans covered acupuncture, suggesting most patients pay for acupuncture entirely out of pocket. When insurers covered acupuncture, cost sharing was higher than other nonpharmacological interventions, and insurers tended to cover few indications and clinician types.

Here, we document trends in insurance coverage for acupuncturist visits using a nationally representative survey. Given Medicare Part B’s 2020 decision to reimburse acupuncture for low back pain, we hypothesized that insurance coverage increased over time.

New Scientific Research Related to Acupuncture 


Electroacupuncture and acupuncture in the treatment of anxiety – A double blinded randomized parallel clinical trial
[Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice]
Conclusion: Acupuncture and electroacupuncture are effective in treating anxiety on their own or as adjuncts to pharmacological therapy.


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