The California State Oriental Medical Association (CSOMA) has taken strong opposition to bill SB628 in the California legislature. Senator Leland Yee (D- San Francisco) introduced SB628 that requires the California Acupuncture Board to create a “Traumatology Committee.” The new committee will be responsible for certifying a new profession called “Traditional Chinese Medicine traumatologists.” Under SB628, the newly formed Traumatology Committee will be composed of six members. Four of the six members will be licensed physicians and surgeons or members representing their interests.
CSOMA opposes the bill for several reasons. Under SB628, applicants may only apply for this certification between January 1, 2012 and December 15, 2012. After that, no new applicants will be allowed and there will be no future opportunities to obtain this certification from the Traumatology Committee. This makes SB628 a unique and unusual bill. It creates a medical profession and then only allows one year in which individuals may join it. CSOMA asserts that this provision satisfies the needs of special interest groups seeking certification without having to obtain licensure through existing opportunities.
SB628 requires no certification examination. No written or practical knowledge need be demonstrated to obtain the certification. This would make “Traditional Chinese Medicine traumatologists” the only medical profession in California that lacks the examination process for certification. CSOMA asserts that the absence of certification exams poses a “significant threat to consumer safety.” In addition, SB628 does not mention certification standards nor does it include a scope of practice. CSOMA notes that TCM traumatology will be the only medical profession in California without educational standards, program accreditation, exams, or a scope of practice.
No continuing education requirements will apply to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) traumatologists. California continuing education requirements apply to acupuncture CEUs and every other medical profession in California except for the proposed TCM traumatologists. This is unusual given the 50 acupuncture CEUs (continuing education units) required for acupuncturists every two years. Acupuncturists are trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and have enormous educational, licensing and examination requirements with a highly defined scope of practice, certification and educational standards. It is odd that a new group may emerge and be awarded the TCM title without any clear standard while acupuncturists work for years to obtain and then maintain licensure.
CSOMA also asserts that TCM traumatology is “part of the broader field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, a field already regulated by the California Acupuncture Board.” CSOMA notes that the term Traditional Chinese Medicine traumatology may cause consumer confusion with the acupuncture profession. CSOMA asserts that unethical or negligent practice by TCM traumatologists may reflect poorly upon licensed acupuncturists. CSOMA also notes that fees paid by acupuncturists to the California Acupuncture Board to maintain licensure may be used to run the TCM Traumatology Committee.