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July 13, 2017

New Professional Doctorate, Herb Program Explored at Community Tea

New developments in the acupuncture field and how they will affect our students were topics covered at AIMC Berkeley’s Community Tea July 12, 2017. About two dozen students attended to share how they would like to shape the curriculum, particularly the herbal program, and learn relevant news.

Nishanga Bliss, Academic Chair at AIMC Berkeley, said the school needs to create integrative medical practitioners who can speak with pharmacists around the world.

Herbal Pharmacy Manager Jordan Wheeler, concurred: “If you tell someone that this herb calms the shen, they’re going to look at you like you have a plant growing out of your head.”

Wheeler said he is attending a symposium at UCLA’s Center for East West Medicine where many Oriental Medicine schools will convene to look at ways to bring Chinese Medicine herbology into the “limelight.”He said this is a ripe moment since prescription drugs have so many side effects and the country is experiencing widespread opiod addiction.

Wheeler also discussed the California Licensing Exam and how it would likely be replaced in 2018 by national exams with a module specifically covering California rules and regulations. He advised students close to graduation to proceed studying for the CALE, however.

Part of the reason the school wants to fine-tune its herbology program is that the school is in the process of launching a First Professional Doctorate. One of the requirements for offering the first professional degree is that all courses must meet doctoral level standards.

Among student feedback about the herbal program: Brooke McClleland, a formulas tutor, suggested that herb classes be taught by families. Denise Cangiano, a second-year student, said she found the amount of information that needed to be memorized overwhelming and suggested that the herbs be taught according to those most commonly used.

The First Professional Doctorate is currently being designed as a four-year dual degree program that would enable students to graduate with both a master’s degree and a doctorate. The program is slated to begin by Fall 2018 or sooner. Students could also exit the program with a Master’s degree and sit for the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE). They could later come back and take two semesters (22 units) for a completion track, if approved by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).

Bliss discussed some of the increased competencies that will be a part of the proposed First Professional Doctorate:

  1. Understanding research
  2. Being a part of an integrative team
  3. Professional Development

More specifically, the doctorate will take a deeper dive into the following areas, said Bliss:

  1. More in-depth look at nutrition
  2. Mastering Labs
  3. Deeper investigation of Anatomy with an option cadaver lab
  4. Pharmacognosy, including herbs’ chemical constituents
  5. Conducting original research
  6. Integrative clinical settings
  7. Advanced orthopedics and pain management
  8. Practice Management
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