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November 16, 2020

An Interview with the Academic Director: AIMC’s Online Doctorate Program

A conversation with our Academic Dean & Program Director, Thomas Siemman, about our re-vamped Doctoral Completion program launching mid-January. We’re now enrolling Licensed Acupuncturists into our two-semester program with the option of completing coursework fully online.

The Interview

Q: COVID-19 and shelter-in-place required creative re-imagining of how we could run a doctoral program of the same quality and caliber that we ran when we were able to host students on campus & in our hands-on internships. We’ve graduated two cohorts of Doctoral students already, what’s different this time around?

A: It’s the same program that we start in 2018, but this time it will be all online, distance-learning. The biggest difference is in the clinical training.

For the first time in the school’s history, we’re accepting Externships that don’t require direct supervision from one of our AIMC supervisors. Students can bring their own proposals for approval so that they can work with whatever kind of practitioner (or practitioners) their clinical curiosities call them to.

Each student can select their own supervising practitioner (or practitioners) to work with for their 134 hours of Clinical Training. This means that you can take this program from Massachusetts, Colorado, Florida, or wherever you’re located and you can work with the practitioner of your choice, as long as they meet certain qualifications.

We want to see our students in multidisciplinary settings; students can choose to work with Chiropractors, Functional Medicine Doctors, Naturopaths, Midwives, or whomever they want to connect with and learn from. They can split their hours between multiple types of practitioners to diversify or focus on one practitioner.

We are pursuing more local options & opportunities, and students can bring their own proposals for approval. We will continute to offer internships at UC Berkeley and the West Berkeley Clinic, but our interactions there will be highly COVID-dependent. We would love to offer the settings of UCSF Children’s Hospital and Sutter Acute Care for the Elderly, but that won’t be possible until at least the summer semester given the COVID numbers.

Q: What’s special or unique about the AIMC Doctorate program in comparison to the other programs out there?

It is designed to help Acupuncturists use the full scope of their practice and to work in Integrative Medicine settings with other practitioners from all facets of medicine.

A: Part of what the various fields of Complementary and Alternative Medicine lack at the moment is the capacity to communicate clearly with one another about our diagnosis, treatment principles & treatment plan. Western Medicine and Western Science is gaining more and more interest in our medicine, and being able to work inside and alongside that paradigm means a radical growth in our field.The program is oriented towards training Acupuncturists to function in a multidisciplinary setting in Integrative Medicine.

The didactic content spans over so many subjects to keep add tools and skills to deepen Acupuncturists’ practices: advanced diagnostics, advanced orthopedics, nutrition, ordering & reading blood tests and other lab work, and more.

For example, what’s amazing is that once an Acupuncturist learns to read blood work, we can see the real differences that our herbal formulas and treatments can make; this data and understanding is a powerful tool when it comes to growing one’s practice and our profession as a whole.

We want to expand the world of what’s possible for Acupuncturists.

Q: One of the more daunting aspects of pursuing a PhD can be the Thesis project. What does that process & outcome look like in AIMC’s program?

A: In the program students take 2 research classes to develop, write, present, & defend their thesis. We’ve had some very cool results– a few people published books from their thesis research, and more had book proposals, prepared CE courses, and designed projects to bring acupuncture to underserved communities & specifically underserved children.

Its flexible, there’s not a big limit on what you can do: some people write a classic thesis, and others write something less traditional and more creative but still academically rigorous.

People love the process, they grow professionally from the thinking and immersion they do in creating this ultimate project. Certainly people can feel unsure at first, but then they can’t believe what they’ve accomplished.

Writing a thesis is exciting, certainly daunting at the beginning but ultimately deeply rewarding and enriching.

It’s amazing because you get to dig into something that you don’t usually have time to do. When life has gotten in the way of the big ideas and passions you’ve had, you have a good reason to research and do what you’re passionate about for this project.

Q: What are our Doctoral graduates up to?

Our graduates are are running successful, rewarding practices, they are working in Integrative settings in hospitals or schools, they are teaching CEUs, and publishing books. We can’t wait to see what this next generation of Doctors of Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine will do.

Two hands providing Acupuncture to Someone's Back

Ready to learn more?

Find out more about the program by visiting the program overview.

Did you hear that to celebrate the school’s 30th Anniversary, all AIMC Alum who start the January 2021 Doctoral Completion program will automatically receive a $500 award toward tuition? DAIM applicants who are alumni also have the opportunity to apply for an additional $500 scholarship by submitting the required essay. Learn more about this scholarship opportunity.

Contact Holly, our Admissions Director, at admissionsinfo@aimc.edu with questions or to get more information!

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