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First Steps to Better Collaboration

Posted By Don Lee, Thursday, October 09, 2014

Dear AAAOM Member,


On October 1st, the AAAOM board had an opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Council of State Associations’ (CSA) for a very cordial and thoughtful discussion. CSA’s representatives presented its proposal to restructure AAAOM to make it more sensitive to local and state interests, and AAAOM board members were able to ask questions to better understand the implications of the proposal. As presented, CSA’s proposal would require significant restructuring of AAAOM’s organizational model and a complete change in governance.

The AAAOM board is carefully considering what the CSA has proposed to determine how we can better serve our members and the profession overall. At the recent AOM Leaders Meeting, NCCAOM identified a growing philosophical difference between state and national priorities. The board is engaging in a serious dialogue regarding how AAAOM’s current model can be modified to continue serving as the profession’s national voice, yet better accommodate state/local perspectives. 

It is regrettable that, over time, tension between national and state interests has created a schism between the AAAOM and several state associations. While there are differences of opinion between our respective organizations regarding how to balance the needs of national versus state prerogatives, there is consensus that it is in our best interests to have one national organization representing a unified front.

As other healthcare professions increasingly seek to encroach on our profession’s modalities — with dry needling being just one example — it is more important than ever that we concentrate our efforts and resources to ensure that our profession is not weakened and co-opted by others. A strong national organization is essential to accomplish this, working in cooperation with robust state organizations. 

Given the urgency of this matter, AAAOM Board is working diligently to resolve the differences between our respective organizations. We are committed to ensuring a strong national presence while the serving the needs of our members..

Best regards,


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A Moment Before Autumn

Posted By Don Lee, Thursday, September 11, 2014
Dear AAAOM Member,

As the long days of Summer wind down, I'm amazed at how quickly the year has been passing. Since assuming the Presidency in April, time seems to have accelerated. My practice is busy. Plus, dealing with the many challenges faced by both our organization and our profession requires constant effort and causes the days, weeks and months to virtually fly by.

Einstein postulated that time is relative. That our sense of time is plastic. So as I have become busier, my sense of time has shifted. Life seems much more hectic and fast-paced. Not having enough "time" is a disease of the modern age. Too much to do and not enough time in which to do it.

I advise my clients that when one is pressed or experiencing challenges, it's smart to to go back and get in touch with the basics. Generally, when the fundamentals are not being applied correctly, breakdowns start to occur. The bolts start coming loose. A return to basics? Definitely in order!

Too much Yang and not enough Yin. The principle of opposites. If life is moving too quickly, then slow it down. Easier said than done, perhaps, but sometimes we need to be reminded that the simplest solution can be the best one.

Having meditated since the 70's, experience has taught me that when life is hectic, I need to be even more disciplined than ever about the basics of awareness and breathing.

The ancient Chinese were quite prescient to understand the need to “go slow to go fast” thousands of years before technology and modern life made it a survival necessity. So as we transition from Summer into Fall, remind yourself to take pause throughout your day to just be in the moment and focus on the basics. Smile. Focus. Breathe.

Best regards,

Don Lee

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End of Summer 2014

Posted By Don Lee, Thursday, August 07, 2014

Dear AAAOM Member,

The summer months are turning out to be very busy ones for AAAOM! On the policy front, the AAAOM, in collaboration with other state and national professional organizations, has been working with National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) on a proposal just submitted to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). We are requesting that Acupuncturists be recognized as an independent occupation by the issuance of an independent and unique code to track the profession. Currently, the US Department of Labor recognizes Acupuncturists as a “New and Emerging Profession" on O*Net.

Being recognized by the BLS as an independent occupation will distinguish Acupuncturists from other occupations that provide acupuncture services. BLS recognition may also increase the credibility and acceptance of Acupuncturists by the insurance industry and mainstream medicine. We look forward to the outcome of this important effort. 

On the membership front, we continue to seek new ways to bring greater value to our members. I am delighted to announce to two new membership discounts: Stericycle and Battle Balm. Stericycle is a company that provides sharps disposal. Battle Balm is a pain analgesic. Each is offering a 15% discount to AAAOM members. Please checkout the member discount section of our website for more information about these new discounts, as well as discounts already provided through AAAOM’s other national vendor partners.

Additional member benefits are in the works, so be on the lookout for more announcements in the coming months! Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Best regards,

Don Lee

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Summer is Coming

Posted By Don Lee, Friday, June 06, 2014
Updated: Thursday, June 05, 2014
At a summer party this weekend, someone to whom I’d just been introduced asked me: "In your experience, what is the biggest challenge you deal with as a healthcare professional?" She told me I didn't need to answer the question immediately, but to share my thoughts before the party was over. Yet it took me only a moment to answer her. "The biggest challenge that I see in healthcare,” I said, "is getting people to take better care of themselves!"

Caring requires effort, focus and commitment. And this is especially true when it comes to self-care. Given the ever-increasing demands on our lives it’s easy to become distracted and lose focus on what is important.

When I assumed the Presidency of the AAAOM, I knew that it would be quite a challenge to remain focused amid the myriad details and demands of this position. The learning curve has been quite steep and, to be honest, it did take a toll on my life and health in the short-term. I became what I see in my practice daily: a person not taking care of himself.

I like to maintain a positive outlook and believe one can always find a silver lining in adversity if you know where to look and are willing to do so. As the long days of summer approach, I encourage you take a moment to reflect each daily on whether you are living you life in alignment, as we encourage our patients to do. Sometimes we forget the lessons we learned in our acupuncture and Oriental medicine training, but when challenges arise, there is no more important time to take pause and listen to oneself.

Socrates once said that "The unexamined life is not worth living." I couldn't agree more!

Have a great summer!

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The Question

Posted By Don Lee, Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Updated: Monday, May 05, 2014

I have been a teacher in our profession for the last twelve years. In lectures I often emphasize to students that questions are more important than answers. Why? Because questions are what stimulates thinking. Those questions, in turn, lead to the search for answers.

One of the questions I recently asked myself as AAAOM President is: "How can our organization quickly impact the lives and practices of members?" A core element of AAAOM’s mission is to "support our members through education and occupational resources.” With that in mind, the answer to the question suddenly was obvious: We need to provide CEUs and other informational products that can be immediately incorporated into members’ lives and practices.

As a result, the Board is in the planning stages of a webinar series we will be hosting on a variety of subjects related both to the practice of acupuncture and to practice development. A new, downloadable practitioner start-up kit is in the works to help practitioners launch as strongly as possible. Also, be on the lookout for new vendor discounts for electroacupuncture machines and gua sha tools. Direct, relevant, and immediate benefits of membership.

Late last year, I read an article on making resolutions. The article explained that one reason most resolutions fail is because people make too many of them. The article suggested making just one resolution per year and posed a simple question: "What is the one resolution that would have the most impact on your life?"

I asked myself that question as 2013 drew to a close and am happy to say that I’ve been reaping the rewards in 2014. It is my sincere hope that the answer to my question about adding immediate membership value in the Association will have as meaningful an impact on your lives and practices as my one question has had on mine.

Best regards,

Don Lee, L.Ac., DNBAO, AOS, CSCS
President, AAAOM Board of Directors

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Introducing the New President

Posted By Don Lee, Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Updated: Monday, April 14, 2014
I would like to begin my Presidency by being thankful. Thankful to all who have contributed so much to our association in the past, and who continue to do so. Having served on numerous boards in our field, I have a deep appreciation for the level of time, energy and resources it has taken to get AAAOM this far. Those who served before me have willingly invested time and channeled energy that they could have devoted to their families, practices and to their own health. Instead AAAOM,and the profession in general, gained the benefit of their dedication.

As I assume the helm of our association, I know that a similar commitment will be required to carry AAAOM beyond whatever challenges the present and future may hold.Certainly the near-term future I envision is one that entails providing expanded, direct benefits to our members.

Most of us are aware that we are in the Year of the Horse. A Wood Horse year. A time of energy, excitement and change. I look forward with much anticipation to being a part of the positive change that I am confident the Year of the Horse will bring to all of us.

Best regards,

Don Lee, LAc - AAAOM Board of Directors President

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Thank You to Our Supporters

Posted By Michael Jabbour and Joshua Saul, Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Updated: Monday, April 14, 2014
Dear Colleague,

Recently, the newly elected AAAOM board of directors selected their executive committee. Please join us in welcoming the new board and executive committee by extending our support and appreciation to these volunteers! They bring a wealth of experience and a commitment to being part of the forward progress needed for our profession.

The board and executive committee of the AAAOM now consists of the following practitioners:
  • Don Lee (President)
  • Dominic Sembello (Vice President)
  • Jane Yu (Secretary)
  • Carlos Chapa (Treasurer)
  • Michael Jabbour (Immediate Past President)
  • Joshua Saul (Student Organization President)
  • John Barrett (Director-at-Large)
  • Donnell Borash (Director-at-Large)
  • Andy Rosenfarb (Director-at-Large)
  • Scott Cormier (Director-at-Large)
We are very grateful for having been given the opportunity to serve the AAAOM and its membership. We take the privilege seriously and hope that the work completed will have a long lasting positive impact on the profession. It has been said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. In serving our profession we discovered more of ourselves. But more than that, we discovered in our community the heartfelt desire to help others and the genuine power behind our ability to serve those in need when we are able to come together with a unified voice.

There are many people to thank for all the successes we have achieved in the past couple years. Past presidents Jeannie Kang, William Morris, and James Moran as well as Michael Taromina and Janet Borges for their ongoing support, guidance, and expertise. Kari Auer, Hannah Seoh, Jay Sexton, and Dr. Richard Niemtzow for their wholehearted contributions to our community and the organization as public directors. Jane Yu and John Barrett for their consistent and significant work - contributed with love, integrity, and in a truly professional manner. Kevin Ergil, Kathy Taromina, Josh Paynter, Kejian Xiao, Maryanne Travaglione, Marnae Ergil, and Michael Oxman for their personal instruction and mentorship, clinical and personal integrity, and ongoing dedication to promoting and protecting acupuncture. Mike Schroeder, for your continued support and infectious hope for a unified professional future for acupuncturists. Angie Woodward, Melinda Lang, and Doug Newton for keeping the office alive during tough time and their persistence and dedication to excellence in their support for our board and members. The late Al Stone for contributing significantly until the very end and constantly reminding us how important our work is. There are no words that can describe the love and senior guidance Deborah Lincoln and Ann Wang invested in each of us, we are eternally grateful.

To our sister organizations: Lixin Huang, Jason Wright, Valerie Hobbs, David Sale, Stacy Gomes, and others at the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for their leadership in bringing our colleges and professional organizations closer together and continuing to promoting harmony and forward thinking in the field. Catherine Niemiec and Mark McKenzie for always keeping an open mind and pushing the Accreditation Commission to grow, expand, and change as the needs of our community continue to evolve. Rosa Schnyer, Richard Harris, Lixing Lao, and Misha Cohen for inspiring us to rigorously challenge the clinical status quo and empowering us to provide evidence-based guidance to the public. Kory Ward-Cook, Mina Larson, Eugene London, David Canzone, Bryn Clark, and others from the National Certification Commission who continue to invest personally and professionally in a unifying national standard and professional culture for our field.

While serious challenges lay ahead for our community, our profession is lucky to have these staff and volunteer stewards at the helm. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

We are in a critical time of change in the healthcare landscape, our ability to unite and advocate for the future of acupuncture having a place in mainstream medicine will determine the course of our profession for many years to come. We encourage everyone to unite and be part of the movement that will ensure our profession has a place in healthcare moving forward.

Yours truly,

Michael Jabbour, MS, LAc - AAAOM Board of Directors President Emeritus

Joshua Saul, LAc - Student Organization President

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Regarding the White House Petition

Posted By Joshua Saul, Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 03, 2014
Dear AAAOM Member,

In January 2013 a petition signed by 31,322 AOM practitioners and advocates was submitted to the White House asking that reimbursement to acupuncturists be included in the Medicare program. The petition was supported by the community and encouraged by our national organizations including the AAAOM.  

The acupuncture and Oriental medicine community recently received an official response from the White House and Obama administration, sent by Jonathan Blum, Principal Deputy Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The AAAOM and the AOM community greatly appreciate the efforts by Mr. Blum and his team to respond our request.

The response states a very clear set of instructions regarding the obstacles we must overcome in order to include acupuncturists as healthcare providers in the Medicare system. Mr. Blum explains"…that to do so would require a change to the statute by Congress.”It further states that to include acupuncture as a service "would require a change in statute or a change in the CMS National Coverage Determination (NCD).” As dictated by law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for developing NCDs.

Our profession faces two clear choices when evaluating our ability to access the Medicare and Medicaid systems. According section 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act,to receive an appropriate NCD in favor of acupuncture as a reimbursable service we must seek to show that acupuncture is medically "reasonable and necessary" through the demonstration of evidenced-based studies and practice. The change to the NCD is determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This determination would allow any practitioner to provide acupuncture as a service according to each state’s scope of practice.

Our other choice is to present federal legislation to Congress. During the past several years, the AAAOM has worked with the AOM community and outside experts to draft such legislation that would bring acupuncture to Medicare and several other major government programs, including Tricare, which would make acupuncture services available to military personnel and their families. But in today’s legislative environment no bills are passed without significant financial backing. We all know that it is the responsibility of practitioners, patients, and advocates of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to unite through our national and state associationsto make this a reality.

The mission of the AAAOM is facilitate access to the highest quality of healthcare in the United States.We remain committed to that purpose and believe that bringing acupuncturists to Medicare and these other programs will serve our profession by bringing this medicine to those in need. Only through your help and financial support can we accomplish this important achievement.


Joshua Saul, LAc

Acting President, AAAOM Board of Directors

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Welcome 2014

Posted By Joshua Saul, Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

Dear AAAOM Member,

Happy New Year!

Let’s pause to consider the significance of celebrating the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new one. As I take my 2013 calendar off the wall and tack up one for 2014, I am reminded that these yearly cycles bring with them the opportunity to reflect upon and set new goals and move towards realizing the vision of what we now only imagine. It allows us to take time out to think about who, how or what we want to be. Saying "Happy New Year” is an easy way to remind ourselves and each other that together that we can create something new from all that is possible — starting right now.

2013 brought several challenges for the AAAOM. We have emerged with important lessons learned and a deeper understanding of our purpose, function and role as the national AOM membership organization. We have reaffirmed our ongoing collaboration with organizational partners, including the NCCAOM, CCAOM, ACAOM and many of the state membership organizations to ensure we continue making forward progress for our profession. Above all, we have been reminded of the importance to nurture our community of practitioners who are deeply devoted to this ancient medicine. We may each have different ideas about how we bring this medicine to people in need, but experience has shown that we can accomplish so much more together than as fractions of the whole.

This year we will increase our efforts to stay in touch with you about the issues affecting practitioners and the way in which we communicate the benefits of AOM to the public. We also look to our state organizations to define and implement ways in which we can collaborate to inspire more practitioners to join our efforts to advance the profession and identify ways in which we can more effectively work together. The way in which we join together to express our energy and our dedication to our profession will determine our success this year and in future years.

As you know, the AAAOM is run almost entirely by volunteers who gift their expertise, time and attention to the profession in addition to balancing their work and family obligations. The AAAOM depends on the support of the community. We thank each of you for your continued financial support as AAAOM members and we extend a warm invitation to participate as a volunteer.

Please contact us at and let us know what you feel passionate about in our field. Help us promote AOM by giving some of your valuable time and energy to make 2014 the year of AOM!Sincerely,

Joshua Saul, LAc

Acting President, AAAOM Board of Directors

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Legislative Town Hall Invitation

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 11, 2013

November 4, 2013

Colleagues and Friends,

The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) is pleased to invite you to an online public town hall meeting. The topic to be discussed is the AAAOM’s proposed bills. The meeting will be held on Sunday, December 1st, 2013, from 5:00 p.m.– 6:30 p.m. Pacific time.

This invitation is being sent to AAAOM members, the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), the National Federation of Chinese TCM Organizations (NFCTCMO), National Guild of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NGAOM), Peoples Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA), Asian organizations, the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR), and AOM state associations and schools. Additionally, the invitation will be sent to licensees and students by email and posted on our website. We ask that each organization have minimally 1-3 representatives participating. Typically this would include the president/chair of the organization, a legislative liaison or lobbyist, and the chief staff member, but each organization is free to designate its own representatives. Registration will remain open until the day of the event.

We are now finalizing our five proposed legislative bills. Again we thank those of you who have thus far provided comments and publicized the call for comments. You are serving a vital role in this process, and your efforts are greatly appreciated. We encourage each of you to review and provide comments one last time. The third and final comment period will start November 1st and run through November 30th at 5 p.m. EST.

Proposed agenda:

1. 10 min - Brief introductions to panel participants
2. 10 min - Facilitator introduction, ground rules
3. 15 min - Lobbyist introduction, background on the legislative process
4. 15 min - Review of the most frequently asked questions from the comment period
5. 40 min - Open Mic - Q & A
6. 30 min - Additional overage time if required

Key Ground Rules:
1. Listen with respect
2. Respond constructively
3. Topics are limited to federal legislative efforts by the AAAOM
The stakeholder group is designed to include all interested stakeholders. The ground rules are built from a co-operative inquiry point of view. If there are stakeholders that should be included and are not listed in the above or if there is new input into the ground rules, please contact William Morris at


Click below to:

The town hall meeting will be facilitated by William Morris, PhD, DAOM, LAc, a past president of the AAAOM and current president of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. Several experts from our legislative committee will also participate. Bill-drafting and CAM legislative expert Beth Clay, of Capitol Strategy Consultants, Inc., will be on hand to answer questions and provide additional critical information. Beth and members of the Legislative Committee will address the expressed concerns related to the Medicare opt-out clause, respond to some of the frequently asked questions, and provide meaningful feedback regarding the overall federal political process.Please watch your email, AAAOM Facebook postings, and updates on our website for any updates.

As a reminder to AOM state organizations and schools, please forward to us letters (on letterhead in PDF form) introducing your organization and providing your endorsement so we can include these in our legislator educational packet. We have legislators interested in sponsoring one or more of our legislative pieces in addition to a possible congressional resolution. Your support is very important as we move this process forward. If you have and questions about this step, please contact AAAOM Executive Director Denise Graham. All letters should be sent to by the close of the comment period so they will be included in the first version of the educational packet.

This is an exciting time in health care. With change comes opportunity. It is essential that we remain united and work to ensure AOM services are not only included as a part of the healthcare offerings, but that we enable our patients to receive the best possible care via fully-trained,competent providers. We will continue to keep you apprised of our progress as we move forward.Thank you for your participation in this important process.

We very much look forward to your participation again this year, and we thank you for your continuing interest in these important milestones for our profession.


Michael Jabbour, MS, LAc
William Morris, LAc, DAOM, PhD
President, AAAOM Board of Directors
Facilitator, Legislative Townhall

Town hall agenda and ground rules: William Morris,
Legislation and bill drafting process: Michael Jabbour,
Donations and support letters: Denise Graham,

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