The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) conferred the first clinical doctoral degrees of acupuncture and Oriental medicine ever awarded in the United States. The degrees were given to 19 students on July 10, 2005, at the college in Portland, OR.1
OCOM offers its 1,228-hour doctoral program in a unique modular format over extended weekends every 4 to 5 weeks, enabling students to complete the 26-month program while maintaining acupuncture practices either in or outside of Portland. The teaching modules feature didactic and clinical material, which students supplement with outside clinical experience, professional development courses, and capstone research projects. The program also includes a mandatory 6-week internship at university-affiliated hospitals and outpatient clinics in China.2
"We hope that our graduates will be even better equipped to treat complex, chronic conditions after completing the program," said Kimberly Schauer, communications director of OCOM (e-mail, August 31, 2005). "Students receive advanced instruction in acupuncture techniques and additional training in Chinese herbal medicine. Also, the program is designed to provide tools for practitioners who want more involvement in research and teaching of Chinese medicine. We are training the future leaders of the industry."
According to Dort Bigg, executive director of the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), the post-graduate clinical doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine is a brand new degree, and standards for such doctoral programs were only recently developed by ACAOM (D. Bigg, oral communication, September 2005). Schools have to go through a lengthy process proving they have the infrastructure in place to support such doctoral programs before they can offer them, which is why OCOM is 1 of only 6 colleges currently approved by ACAOM to offer post-graduate clinical doctoral programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Schauer said OCOM was one of the first colleges approved by ACAOM to begin a doctoral program in 2002, and it was the first college to matriculate students into such a program.
Bigg said more institutions are likely to offer post-graduate doctoral programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the near future. "We have more and more schools that are seeking approval for the post-graduate clinical doctoral program," Bigg said. "There are a number of schools that have doctoral programs in development."
Bigg said ACAOM is now developing standards for a first-professional doctoral degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. First-professional doctorates differ from post-graduate clinical doctorates in that they are the first and only degrees needed for practice of a profession and do not require the prior acquisition of lower-level degrees.
1. Oregon College of Oriental Medicine to graduate first clinical doctors of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the United States; first nineteen students to receive their degrees July 10, 2005 in Portland [press release]. Portland: Business Wire Web site; June 28, 2005. Available at: http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/index.jsp. Accessed July 25, 2005.
2. Doctoral Program. Oregon College of Oriental Medicine Web site. Available at: http://www.ocom.edu/doctoralprogram/index.html. Accessed September 15, 2005.