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The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
June, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 06
Show Me Your Outcome Competencies
By Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB
In early 1984, I spent a month at the Esalen Institute practicing core shamanic methods in a small group led by Michael Harner, author of The Way of the Shaman2 and founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies. During sessions, Michael always was the model of focus and professionalism. Outside of the sessions, however, he was animated and social. And at dinner, we never had a problem figuring out where our group's table was, with Michael's laughter that could be heard across any crowded dinner hall. Often, the laughter came in recounting some scene from his favorite movie, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." Thus, we came to know the opening quote quite well. I also was given a model of being flexible and learned to shift my personal presentation to fit the needs of the context. That flexibility has been a "competency" of some of the best teachers I've had the privilege to learn from, which leads me to the real theme of this column. With apologies to Dobbs and Gold Hat, if you are the bearers of "high standards," where are your outcome competencies?
My fellow columnist, Ralph Stephens, and I both like to shine light on where we feel massage training and entry requirements fall short. In the inimitable words of baseball player and manager Yogi Berra, however, "Our similarities are different."3 For me, another Berra quote succinctly captures the root of the problem: "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there." The licensing and certification of massage practitioners likely has been lowering their competence.
It's not so much the licensing itself as it is how licensing has interacted with mainstreaming and training. At one time, teaching massage resembled teaching martial arts, a system of tacit knowledge conveyed from expert to student. The expert may not have said a lot, but they knew how to look at you while you practiced and would keep you at it as long as they felt there was "something missing." Consider that system to be history, now that we have explicitly defined entry requirements. Explicit requirements don't add to a tacit system; they replace it. You get what you explicitly value. The catch is that we haven't defined the outcomes we value; only the total hours and some blocks of hours in vaguely defined subject areas. Career colleges and community colleges teach to what we defined. Students self-select for their ability to match our explicit requirements. We are getting what we asked for, as long as graduates meet the entry requirements. You expected something else, perhaps?
Don't complain about getting what you asked for; do the work of defining the outcomes comprising what you want. Here's the recipe: Insist on differentiating between "high requirements" and "high standards." Standards lead to observable outcomes while requirements don't have to. Define a job specification for an "entry-level practitioner." Define all of the contexts in which you believe the job is done. For each context, break the performance into tasks. Get feedback from the stakeholders in each context. For each task, create a list of required observable competencies or, if covert, competency indicators. Define the needed proficiency levels. Get more feedback. Merge the individual lists of competencies into a master list of competencies, taking the highest proficiency level at which each occurs. Implement a plan to identify applicant learning gaps and teach them what they aren't doing. Assess the results, and modify definitions and teaching methods to obtain the outcomes you want. Reward yourself for creating something that meets specific goals for stakeholders and is a clear guide to schools and students in reaching them. Then go back and assess the results again. The beauty of this method is that all levels are explicit. If you compare your competency standards with someone else's, you can track down the exact source of differences.
The best resource I've come across for going through all of this is a set of books authored by Robert F. Mager called The New Mager Six-Pack.4 I'm of the opinion that no one should be allowed to talk about standards without first being required to demonstrate an understanding of what's in those books. Consider it an entry-level requirement for a "standard discusser" position. The books are clear, readable and filled with examples.
Your efforts, should you accept this mission, won't be alone. New resources to do information handling are coming from the venues of technology and distance learning. (I recently blogged about this: "Guidelines, Learning Objects, & Competency Definitions."5) The Massage Therapy Foundation's Best Practices Committee is actively working on an open and transparent creation process for evidence-based guidelines. At a March meeting of the committee, I co-located with Whitney Lowe in the physical world. Whitney has embodied a lot of the outcome-based concepts in an online clinical reasoning course.6 The course uses an open-source educational framework that supports working through case studies, first as small groups and then as individuals. I particularly like that the environment provides built-in discussion forums to teach students the ability to solve problems by interacting with mentors and peers; a refreshing walk away from the idea of pre-canned answers for everything. Finally, I've been following my own project to create a library of massage competency definitions.7 I'm grateful to a number of people on different massage e-mail lists for their contributions. You'll find their names next to the competencies they suggested.
While I've been discussing massage training, the same process works for personal and business goals as well. Define where you want to be. Define what being there looks like and what skills you are using. Set up a plan to close the learning and experience gaps. Implement that plan and you'll be heading where you want to go. Remember to enjoy the journey and the people you meet along the path.
Click here for previous articles by Keith Eric Grant, PhD, NCTMB.
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