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Los Angeles (May 1, 2001): Catapulting the study of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to new heights in the United States, the state of California has granted approval to American University of Complementary Medicine (AUCM) to offer a Ph.D. program in Classical Chinese Medicine, the first program of its kind in the nation.

"Our Ph.D. Program in Classical Chinese Medicine is designed to develop highly competent theoreticians, researchers, and clinicians in the field of CCM, while preserving the rich historical, philosophical, and oral traditions of the medicine and increasing their applicability to treatment in modern America," said Kathryn P. White, Ph.D., L.Ac., AUCM's President and Chief Academic Officer.

"The degree provides an intensive study of the classics and a re-incorporation of much knowledge that is currently available primarily through oral traditions that integrate physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of care," White said.

The curriculum was developed in close consultation with internationally known lecturer and practitioner of classical Chinese medical traditions, Taoist priest Jeffrey C. Yuen, and one of his primary students, Sheila George, M.D. Yuen is the 88th Generation Taoist Master of Yu Ching Huang Lao Pai (Jade Purity School), Yellow Emperor/ Lao Tzu Sect.

"Mr. Yuen is an unparalleled master and teacher of ancient oral and written classical traditions of the medicine and their applicability to the treatment of persons with acute conditions as well as chronic degenerative disorders such as cancer in modern American," White said.

"The program brings together gifted classical Chinese acupuncture and herbal healers, Chinese scholars, and American researchers of Chinese medicine," she said.

Chairing the Department of Classical Chinese Medicine is Xiu Ling Ma, Ph.D., L.Ac., who completed 12 years of education at the top of her class at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and studied directly under two distinguished Chinese medical masters in China--Dr. Jai-San Yang and Dr. Zi-Fu Chen, both of whom accept only one or two students each year.

Other esteemed faculty include:

  • Sheila George, M.D., a physician who completed Oriental medical school in New York and interned in the People's Republic of China in the 1980's. Dr. George, who formerly served as Academic Dean of the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences in New York, has studied extensively with Mr. Yuen for the past 10 years. Dr. George also is a member of the New York Acupuncture Board and an acupuncture physician in the cancer program at Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital in New York.
  • Hua Gu, Ph.D., L.Ac., who earned his doctorate at the China Academy of Chinese Medicine's Institute of Orthopedics and Traumatology.
  • Terrence D. Oleson, Ph.D., internationally known in the field auriculotherapy, and a professor in research and dissertation studies.

The standard degree offered in the United States currently is a four-year Master's degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine or a three-year Master's degree in acupuncture only.

For a brief period in the 1980's, some Oriental medical schools offered a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (OMD) degree, but these programs were not accredited and were far less rigorous, requiring less than half the amount of training as the current Master's degree programs, White said.

As national standards for Oriental medical education were adopted and an accreditation commission was developed to accredit acupuncture and Oriental medical schools, the OMD programs were phased out.

In the last decade, the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), a national group of accredited Oriental medical schools, has been working together with the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), the field's specialty accreditation body, to develop a new clinical doctoral degree.

Dr. White, who previously served as Academic Dean at two nationally accredited Oriental medical schools, was one of four educators on ACAOM's Doctoral Task Force that developed a proposal for the new clinical doctoral degrees. She also served as Secretary and Executive Board Member of CCAOM for about five years.

"The Ph.D. Program differs from the proposed clinical Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM) degree programs in that it is scholarly in nature and requires students to generate new knowledge in the field through the completion of a doctoral dissertation supervised by a doctoral committee of at least three Ph.D.'s," White said.

"However, the program focuses on the clinical applications of classical traditions in Chinese medicine to modern-day practice and therefore, the program should help practitioners cultivate their clinical skills and deepen their capacities to practice the medicine. Also, some courses include a practicum, in which students will experiment with the clinical applications of various classical traditions and theories with patients under the supervision of a faculty member," she said.

The Ph.D. Program, which requires a Master's degree (or a minimum of 30 semester units or 45 quarter units in a Master's degree program) in Oriental medicine for admission, consists of 68 trimester units, which include 12 units for dissertation development and completion. Many courses are taught in a weekend and/or evening format, allowing practicing acupuncturists to continue working in their clinics.

If students were to attend the program full-time (taking approximately 12 units per trimester), begin work on dissertation development immediately, and diligently pursue completion of the dissertation, it is possible to graduate within two academic years, White said.

"However, we anticipate that many students may wish to attend the program part-time. Students will be able to take up to six years to complete the degree program," she said.

White said the university was employing highly selective admissions criteria for the Ph.D. Program, requiring students to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Miller Analogy Test (MAT), or AUCM's own Doctoral Admission Test (DAT). In addition, applicants are required to write an application essay, send in two letters of reference, and go through an extensive admissions interview.

"Because this is a scholarly and not a clinical doctorate, it is especially important that students be prepared to perform at a doctoral level in the course work and be capable of completing a doctoral dissertation," she said.

White said many licensed acupuncturists would find the education at AUCM's Ph.D. Program in Classical Chinese Medicine quite different from their Master's degree level education.

"Doctoral course work focuses on analyzing, synthesizing, and applying theories, strategies, techniques, and practices, and on generating new knowledge," she said. "Rather than having students memorize functions of points and herbs and assessing their knowledge with the use of multiple-choice exams, as do many courses in Master's degree programs in Oriental Medicine, course work in the Ph.D. Program requires that students assess, compare, contrast, synthesize, analyze, create, develop, and/or apply various theories, techniques, practices, and strategies, usually by writing graduate level term papers and completing essay examinations."

"The doctoral program also requires the production of an original, comprehensive, scholarly contribution to the field of Chinese medicine, in the form of a dissertation," she said. "This dissertation can be theoretical, clinical, or empirical in nature. All students also must complete course work in Research Design, Basic and Multivariate Statistics, and a research seminar critically examining the research literature in the field."

At the present time, the doctorate is offered in an "in-residence" only format. Students could be admitted and pursue the program if they live in another city; however, they would have to travel to Los Angeles to attend weekend and extended-weekend classes and they would be at a disadvantage in not having as easy access to local faculty or library resources on campus, White said.

"The university plans to develop distance education programs within the next year; therefore, it may be possible for students to begin their studies by attending weekend classes and later to complete some course work using distance education methodology," White said.

"However, even when distance education is inaugurated, it is expected that students would need to travel to the campus for in-residence programs two or three times a year and they would be required to come to the campus for certain other events, such as their doctoral preliminary and final oral examinations," she said.

The first group of students are slated to begin the program the week of May 14, 2001, with an additional group beginning in late August.

"We anticipate that graduates of the program will become leaders in scholarship, teaching, administration, and practice in the field of Chinese medicine," White said.

Interested persons may contact the university via mail at 11543 Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90064, tel: (310) 914-4116, fax: (310) 479-3376, or via e-mail at "Curentur@flash.net". The university's website is "www.aucm.org."

Contact: Kathryn White, Ph.D., L.Ac.
Email: curentur@flash.net
Phone: 310-914-4116