Chinese medical practioners with a Doctor of Acupuncture degree could soon be recognized as medical doctors in California, World Journal (世界日報) reports. The State Senate and Assembly have passed a bill recognizing the degree, and it is waiting for Governor Jerry Brown to review.
Backers of the legislation gathered at Alhambra Hospital Medical Center on Sunday. According to Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat representing part of San Francisco and San Mateo counties, the American medical community generally lacks an understanding of Chinese medicine and does not regard an Eastern medical education as equal to that of the West. In California, Chinese medicine practitioners with a doctorate degree cannot use the title “doctor,” only "acupuncturist" or "massagist." This bill will help raise the status of Chinese medicine in California and provide protection for patients by making it illegal for a practioner to use the title "doctor" unless he or she has earned the degree, according to Around the Capitol.
The legislation comes at the same time as a new, rigorous study featured in the New York Times, which found that acupuncture actually eases migraines, arthritis, and other forms of chronic pain. According to the study, about half of acupuncture patients report improvements, compared with about 30 percent of patients who undergo other types of pain therapy, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and standard medicines.
Since the state's legalization of acupuncture in 1975, California has had 15,000 to 20,000 registered acupuncturists, according to World Journal. Of the 20 Chinese medicine colleges in California, 15 offer doctorate programs. It is estimated that about 1,000 acupuncturists with a Doctor of Acupuncture degree would acquire the medical doctor title if Governor Brown signs SB628. The Chinese medicine community is optimistic that Brown will pass the legislation, World Journal reports.