You Can Make a Difference

Many LAcs do their best to ignore the “politics” of acupuncture. The experience of participating in professional dialogue can be disheartening and discouraging. It isn’t easy to participate even when we want to — things are happening at the state level, with schools and ACAOM (the coming FPD), or with credentialing (proposed changes at NCCAOM), for example. All too often the debate gets heated and divisive. It is hard to get the whole story and figure out the possible consequences of a change or know what action might be effective. When the licensure legislation was developing in DE few outside of the state were involved. Some of my colleagues in DE had concerns, but they eventually gave up what felt like a fight for a better bill.

Five years after the DE legislation went into effect, there are approximately 35 LAcs serving a population of over 900,000 people and many of those practitioners were either grandfathered in or granted a waiver. Two years went by without a single non-waivered approval. Clearly, the legislation is not giving the people of DE access to qualified LAcs. As I wrote about in my last post, I know of two excellent practitioners who have recently been denied licensure even though their credentials surpass those of many practitioners in the state.

In the long run, the Delaware legislation should be changed. Rules that exclude the majority of NCCAOM credentialed Acupuncturists make no sense, especially when acupuncture can be done by other professionals with far less training. In the short run, the Acupuncture Advisory Council should acknowledge the record of safety of NCCAOM AC practitioners and consistently grant waivers to those with that credential.  In the very short term, the Council should grant waivers to Virginia LAc Sharon Crowell and Maryland LAc Sue Berman.  To facilitate those short term goals I ask that all of you write to the Acupuncture Advisory Council expressing your support of such a waiver.  Please mail your letters by August 22nd!  Feel free to post a copy of your letter in the comments section to inspire others. Email a copy to That will help if further action is necessary.

You can see the letter I sent (and borrow from it if appropriate) —  DE Observer Letter.  I’ve also generated a DE LAc sample letter that you can personalize. You could add some of these Possible concerns or your own concerns (please share any additional concerns in the blog comments). The letter can be modified for clients or others who are interested. If you’d like an excuse to visit Dover, DE, the next Advisory Council meeting is September 12th. It should be lovely at that time of year – but don’t count on being able to find an LAc in town :).



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© Elaine Wolf Komarow and The Acupuncture Observer, 2013-2033. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from Elaine Wolf Komarow is prohibited. Excerpts and links are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

8 thoughts on “You Can Make a Difference

  1. Here’s a letter an acupuncturist sent to the DE Council —

    I am writing on behalf of my colleagues. I feel that the restrictions to become an acupuncturist in the state of Delaware greatly limit Acupuncturists with quality education and experience to move there. Especially being a neighboring state of Maryland, many of us have wanted to be able to have the option of moving there.

    I graduated in 2010 from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. In 2011, my husband was offered a job in the state of Delaware. He had to move for financial reasons. As a new graduate I had no idea that I couldn’t work there. I had over $100k in school loans, and was told I would have to go back to school and go into $20k more debt, and 2 years more education in order to practice acupuncture in the state of Delaware. Plus to do this I would also have a long distance commute. There was no other option other than to live in separate states than my husband, and wait for him to get a job back in Maryland.

    Two years later my husband was offered a job in South Carolina. South Carolina has a license for acupuncture only. It was very easy to transfer to South Carolina. I am able to put my skills to good use and have opened a small business here, helping their economy.

    My purpose in writing this letter is to ask you to consider offering an acupuncture only license. This would only help the local economy and bring more talented acupuncturists to the state.

  2. If I were to apply and then get denied as I do not have an herbal degree, will they keep the money, or return it? Does the act of applying start the ball rolling for a change if there were strength in numbers? I would think that if 100 of us applied, we would probably need an attorney at some point to bring suit, could be, for example, that the law puts citizens of DE in jeopardy by those who are not properly trained.

    • Application fees are just that — the fee to apply. The money will be kept whether you are approved or not.

      I honestly believe the very best course of action would be to work for a change in the law by showing that it has created unintended consequences — that is, creating a barrier for qualified practitioners even though the intent was to ensure qualified practitioners. When I consider strategy I like to consider how I’d feel about something if there were different players. I hate to use this example, because I hate the whole us/them thing, but if 100 PT’s applied, would we want that to be sufficient to change the law to allow their licensure as acupuncturists? Same with a lawsuit — it might work and it might be necessary, but I’d prefer a starting point that assumes that it is possible to bring about positive change through discussion within the professions, eventually coming to an agreement about whether the current rules are serving, and, if not, figuring out amongst ourselves how best to proceed. Lawsuits are expensive and typically create a lot of division — the last thing we acupuncturists need!

  3. Hey readers — a few follow-up notes! First off, even if you don’t want to use the sample letters, you’ll find the mailing address there. Also, please remember to cc Gayle MacAfee on your correspondence and send a copy to

    Most importantly, let’s not allow our frustration to create an us/them situation. The grandfathering in the legislation means that LAcs in DE may have differing education and credentials. This includes some LAcs on the council. This happens in other states too. This can provide evidence that the higher credentials are not necessary for safe practice. This is not the place (is it ever the place?) to dismiss the hard work of the Council members who are doing their best to abide by the law. One of the saddest and most frustrating things about my experience as an acupuncturist is how quickly we divide ourselves when addressing policy issues.

    Let’s keep our eye on the real issue. We want the public to have access to acupuncture provided by well-trained Acupuncturists. If laws or regulations, however well-intentioned, interfere with that goal, let’s see what we can do to make them better.

    • I want to thank everyone who took the time to write to the Delaware Acupuncture Advisory Council. The Council’s next meeting is this Thursday, September 12th. At this meeting the Council will decide whether to forward its recommendation to deny Sharon and Sue licenses to the DE Board of Medicine or whether to grant them (us) a second hearing, to take place in December. (Just FYI, by the time of the December meeting, DE will have had my application materials for over a year. In the past two months I received licenses in both Maryland and North Carolina). The letters that you have written will be a deciding factor in the Council’s decision. If anyone feels like traveling to Dover on the 12th, the meeting is at 3:00pm. I will let you know the outcome, and thanks again for your support.

      • Thanks so much for keeping us posted. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that good sense prevails on Thursday! Sometimes all I can do is sit here and shake my head at what we’ve done to ourselves.

        • Reporting good news after the September 12th Delaware Acupuncture Advisory Council meeting. The Council agreed to re-open our hearing. This will allow us to present new evidence obtained since our original hearing in June. This evidence will include the letters written by some of you in support of myself and Sue Berman, as well as your letters urging the Delaware Advisory Council to open the practice of Acupuncture in DE to ALL nationally certified Acupuncturists, whether or not they chose to study herbal medicine. If you were pressed for time this summer, now is the time to express your concerns to the Council about the consequences of the entry-level OM requirement in the state. .

          A big THANK YOU!!!! to all who took the time to write!

          • Terrific news. Let’s hope reason prevails at the next meeting. The people of DE need access to acupuncture from experienced and qualified providers.

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