The University of Alberta (Canada) acupuncture program has been closed. For over 20 years, Dr. Steven Aung headed the medical acupuncture program designed for training physicians, physiotherapists, chiropractors, dentists and occupational therapists. Dr. Aung founded the acupuncture program in 1991. Originally located in the Faculty of Extension, the program later moved to the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. The official release from the university is that the acupuncture program closure is not related to recent budget cuts.
The program included 200 hours of acupuncture training administered part-time on weekends as part of graduate level instruction. In the USA, an acupuncture license requires thousands of hours of training prior to sitting for state and national boards. However, like Canada, MD’s and dentists in the USA may administer acupuncture with limited training. There is a historical precedent to this type of minimalist program throughout Chinese history wherein basic training is provided to ‘barefoot doctors’ in an effort to provide acupuncture to villagers who would not receive any care absent this type of effort. Dentists, for example, can learn simple acupuncture anesthesia and relaxation techniques with minimal training but would not be qualified to treat advanced medical conditions with acupuncture.
Dr. Aung is an Order of Canada recipient and has received interest by Harvard University (Boston, Massachusetts) for a possible move. He served as a professor at the University of Alberta and is an associate professor at the New York University College of Dentistry. Dr. Aung is the president of the Canadian Medical Acupuncture Society and has a visiting professor appointment at the California Institute for Human Science (Encinitas) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia). He is widely published and is the credited consultant for one of the most important Chinese Medicine theory publications printed in English: Syndromes of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Analysis of 338 Syndromes. Published by the Heilongjiang Education Press, this extensive work compiled by Prof. Huang Bing-Shan includes all known Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnoses and includes a western medical analysis of TCM theory.
The closure of the University of Alberta acupuncture program comes closely on the heels of the liquidation of the oldest acupuncture college in Victoria, British Columbia. The Canadian College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine recently went into receivership and the building has been sold. The British Columbia Supreme Court ordered the sale of the building and put the college in receivership to settle an imbroglio of financial and legal battles. A British Columbia government career training program stepped in and refunded students pending tuition payments in an effort to help them complete their college educations at another school.