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Dear Members of the New Mexico Society for Acupuncture & Asian Medicine and all New Mexico DOMs,

September 27 will be the completion of my term as NMSAAM president. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you. I have greatly appreciated all that you bring to NMSAAM and our profession.

The 2020 Year of the Metal Rat has been a wild ride. Rats are known for spreading pestilence and plagues. That seems to have come true this year.

NM DOMs and NMSAAM got through another legislative session without being hurt by any mischief. SB 140 was a poorly written bill would have negatively affected our licensure process. NMSAAM took action to request that this bill be withdrawn, which was done. We were grateful for that result. Our Legislative Committee supported bills that would have included DOMs in providing tax incentives for rural health care providers. While we were not able to get DOMs included, the possibility is much stronger in the future for our inclusion. NMSAAM continues to be an active presence at the Roundhouse. 

The general public must be better educated in what we have to offer them. Why see a DOM instead of untrained/poorly trained DCs, PTs or another provider? Public education will create more consumer demand. In fighting the PT/dry needling issue it is up to us help the public make an educated choice. It is up to us to make the case that we should be patients first choice for health care.

NMSAAM has contacted the NM Attorney General’s office regarding the concern of PTs employing acupuncture techniques without adequate training, education standards or safety standards. PTs are performing these techniques without the support of their practice act. We believe that the NM AG should be very concerned about professions expanding their scope of practice by rule without the support of statute. The eventual response from the AG’s office was not what we hoped for. No position or action has been taken as yet. 

Staff at the AG’s office seemed to believe that the BAOM should address the situation. The BAOM is quite aware of the situation and is powerless to address it. This is why we contacted the AG’s office regarding what we believe is a danger to the public health. NMSAAM is always concerned when health care providers inadequately trained to perform acupuncture techniques are working in our state.

The NMSAAM website nmsaam.org has recently been rebuilt, improved and is now in sync with the ASA site. There is a landing page for the public at newmexicoacupuncture.org. The “Find an Acupuncturist” link takes people to NMSAAM members. NM DOMs have very diverse practice skills and practice specialties. We greatly appreciate your patience while our website committee has struggled with the improvements and making our website more functional. We strongly encourage you to become a member and to help educate the public about what our medicine has to offer. Having information about your practice specialty on our website will help guide prospective patients to you.

Inn the fall of 2019, NMSAAM leaders appeared on the KRQE morning show in October and the Jeffrey Candelaria radio show in December. Press releases were disseminated in 2019, and our PR Committee is working on additional press releases. We are committed to public education to promote acupuncture. Our objective is to make acupuncture and our other modalities a first approach to solving health and pain related issues. There is also the challenge of informing the public about seeing a DOM instead of a poorly-trained individual using acupuncture techniques. This is a long-term project that is still in the beginning stage. We want all NM DOMs to be busy and prosperous.

2020 started with some very good momentum for NMSAAM. Then the pandemic hit us! NMSAAM leaders and especially our secretary were extremely busy providing information and guidance from the NM DOH and the CCAOM. In the spring nobody quite knew what to do or how to respond to the pandemic. In the last 12 months, at least 26 email messages were sent by NMSAAM to NM DOMs to keep you informed and connected. We greatly appreciate your communications with us.

This spring NMSAAM sent out a survey to NM DOMs to check in and see how we were doing. DOMs were having varying levels of difficulty with safe practice protocols, personal protective equipment and just staying informed about the directives from the NM DOH and the BAOM. Telemedicine is a new method of practice for DOMs, and coping with issues of compensation from insurance providers has been another challenge. We are still at a reduced level of practice, since patients in waiting rooms are still limited. Acupuncturists around the country have been struggling with the same issues. While conditions vary around the country, the challenges are the same.

The last 2 years of my term as president have been building years for NMSAAM. Our membership has increased. I believe that we have been more effective in a number of areas. Thanks to our secretary, our communications to our DOM community have been, in my opinion, of real value to our fellow DOMs. Our committees showed some good momentum until the pandemic slowed down the world. We initiated some good public education efforts that we should be able to build on in the future.

I think there is a common challenge in that we are all facing an uncertain future. While we are very confident that our medicine has the most to offer in supporting health and immune support, getting the message out in the world without getting unwanted attention from the FDA and other agencies is a concern.

NM DOMs have historically been leaders in our medicine. Our society endeavors to continue in that tradition. NMSAAM has been active in local and national efforts to protect the public from inadequately trained health care practitioners who employ acupuncture techniques with inadequate training. We represented NM DOMs at the ASA national Zoom delegate conference on May 1. NMSAAM members have been active in communications with the FDA in attempting to regain legal access to Ma Huang. Our connections reach into the international community too.

A Call to Action

During the 1981 legislative session our first practice act was passed and signed by Governor Bruce King. The first generation of practitioners built a fantastic scope of practice and the legal and regulatory foundation for your practice. Now, it is up to the new generation of practitioners to give greater access to our fellow New Mexicans and create an even better future for all as aspects of our medicine. The future is up to YOU to create!

In our state and across our nation our profession is being presented with great challenges and opportunities. The pandemic has laid bare the disaster of our health care system. The fact that we do not actually have a health care system is sad. There will surely be a movement to create universal access to health care for all Americans. Will acupuncture and Asian medicine providers be at the table and part of the discussion? Our dreams of greater prosperity for practitioners and universal access for our fellow beings depends our willingness to be politically active. We must educate our elected officials, candidates, and state employees about what our medicine has to offer. This transcends party affiliation or political orientation.

Our board and our members are constantly working to strengthen our organization and our profession. Improving access to our wonderful medicine to every New Mexican is one of our missions. We are very grateful to all our New Mexico DOMs who have become members of NMSAAM. We humbly ask the rest of you to join us in our mission to bring our medicine to all New Mexicans! You can join through our website at nmsaam.org.

We invite you to be a part of our community of healers.

Be active for your profession and your future!

John Scott, DOM
President, NMSAAM