Building on Our Progress: The Future of Medical Acupuncture
— Demetrios Papadopoulos, MD, FAAMA, Member, AAMA Board of Directors, Board Certified in Family Medicine, Integrative Medicine, and Medical Acupuncture
I began my studies in integrative medicine and medical acupuncture late into my career at the age of 63. I call it my “late life crisis.” After 30+ years of practicing family medicine, I learned that our health care system is lacking many necessary features. One feature particularly lacking is: How can a healer heal without prescribing medications? Embarking into the field of medical acupuncture answered this question for me and became one of the most effective and fulfilling healing activities of my career. Not only have I been able to offer patients an alternative healing experience, but I have also been able to pursue a lifelong activity of learning as I study the science and implement new acupuncture techniques.
But we need more physicians performing acupuncture. We need more preceptors teaching acupuncture. The financial model in the practice needs improvement so that younger physicians will be eager to pursue acupuncture knowledge and skills and to integrate these into their practices. Although there has been significant progress made, we need more acceptance in the traditional medical communities for our abilities and successes. At the present time, our best referral sources are our own patients.
Therefore, as we continue our work in medical acupuncture, I believe that we must contribute to our cause. Membership in the AAMA is a very important activity that allows us to make significant contributions. As I have served on the Membership Committee, and as the Symposium Chair last year, and as I now serve on the Board, I have gained more insight into the challenges we face in order to integrate medical acupuncture into mainstream medical practice. Serving on AAMA committees (Membership, Legislative, Symposium Planning, Education, and CME) is a most important way to contribute. Attending the AAMA Symposia is critical for us to develop our knowledge and skills, notwithstanding the social contact with fellow healers. By setting an example in our communities, we can encourage younger physicians to pursue the practice of acupuncture. Informal communication amongst our fellow physician acupuncturists can help us to learn more. Formal communications with our physician colleagues and to the lay public through seminars and demonstrations can help educate people, help us to build our practices, and encourage our communities to accept us and seek us out.
Therefore, I encourage all of you to maintain your membership in the AAMA. Encourage our colleagues to do the same. Serve on a committee. Attend every Symposium and as many AAMA-sponsored CME events that you can. Set an example in your community. And encourage young physicians to pursue acupuncture training.
A lot of progress has been made, but we have a lot more work to do.