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Dr. Tom Haines Receives AAAOM 2007 Leadership Award

Thomas Haines, Ph.D., the Coordinator of Doctoral Studies and Assistant to the President at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, was awarded one of the 37 coveted Leadership Awards presented at the 25th anniversary conference of the AAAOM held in Portland, Oregon in October 2007. These awards were given to honor some of the pioneers and leaders that helped expand Oriental medicine in this country over the past 25 years.  Dr. Haines spent more than 35 years in higher education before coming to the field of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM). Since joining the AOM community over a decade ago, Tom has been highly influential in bringing higher education standards to the field of Oriental medicine and in the development of the postgraduate doctorate degree in Oriental Medicine. His role as an Academic Dean for ACTCM in San Francisco for four years then later serving as an administrator for the past eight years at Pacific College along with his 12-year membership as a public board member on the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance board helped him to promote and shepherd the development of the postgraduate clinical doctorate standards. His involvement with the Council of Colleges of Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) doctoral task force and later the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) doctoral task force allowed him to help guide this process to fruition.

In 1998, Dr. Haines attended the biannual CCAOM meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, armed with a set of doctoral standards that were designed for implementation within the profession of Oriental medicine. Present at this meeting were most of the 41 colleges of Oriental medicine that were accredited at that time. The CCAOM had been contemplating the doctorate degree for the profession for over a decade. The new interest among the colleges was in the development of a postgraduate clinical doctorate for licensed practitioners of OM. “Each school had a different idea of what they wanted the doctorate to be and there was a 'hand shake' agreement between the colleges that no school would start a doctorate program until they all agreed on the standards. Obviously, consensus had to be developed before the process could move forward. I mediated a process (with invaluable input from Dr. Richard Hammerschlag) over a 61 hour period using the Delphi technique to establish agreement,” Tom said. CCAOM members at this meeting eventually agreed to the doctoral standards and later that year, the standards were passed on to ACAOM for review.

At the end of a two-year public review process, the ACAOM Doctoral Task Force accepted almost 95% of the recommended standards established by CCAOM. In May of 2000, ACAOM, which oversees accreditation of the degrees in this field, published the standards for a clinical, postgraduate doctorate degree. The first OM colleges began offering postgraduate doctoral degree programs in 2002. Today there are over 10 colleges approved to award the Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM) degree. As of October 2007, Dr. Haines said, "there are approximately 65 DAOM graduates with another 150 to 160 doctoral fellows currently seeking their doctorate degrees in a variety of clinical specialties ranging from pain management to family medicine. The DAOM process has gained a critical mass and we will see many more practitioners elect to take advantage of this option."

Dr. Haines stated he had one primary goal when he agreed to come out of retirement and become involved in the field of Oriental medicine. This goal was to help develop a clinical doctorate degree for the Oriental medicine profession. However, with his involvement at the national level as an Alliance board member, Dr. Haines soon acquired a second mission. This mission was to help bring about the unification of the profession, or in his words, "the establishment of 'one voice' for the medicine".

Due to the hard work and compromise from many in the profession, Dr. Haines was able to help facilitate an agreement acceptable to the colleges, and the often opposing, but similarly invested groups of the American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM) and the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance (AOMA). These two professional membership groups were once united as the AAAOM, but a separation occurred over fifteen years ago due to major philosophical differences within the original AAAOM group, many revolving around the role of doctorate level education in the field of Oriental medicine.

After many years of confrontational politics, the major differences between these newly formed groups were set aside when Dr. Haines and Dr. Will Morris were selected to co-chair the Visioning Search Task Force (VSTF, Acupuncture Today, November 2004, Vol. 5, Issue 5), which attempted to consolidate the profession through a Future Search process, a well known conciliatory course of action.

Although the VSTF did not bring about full unity, it contributed significantly toward developing a climate that allowed the two national groups to continue a dialogue directed at unification of the profession. With behind-the-scene facilitation from Dr. Haines and other leaders in the profession, and through invaluable support from the American Acupuncture Council (primarily represented by Vice President Michael Schroeder), this continued effort toward unification was fully realized at the 2007 January meeting of the two boards in Dallas, Texas. As a result of this landmark meeting, both national groups agreed to once again reform as a united front as the AAAOM beginning February 1st, 2007.

Dr. Haines played an important part in this merger, urging the groups to focus on their common goals regarding the advancement of the field of Oriental medicine. It was a long road to success, but this joining of the two associations was part of Tom’s second goal: he wanted to bring the people in the field together. “When I am at legislative or national meetings, I want to be able to say ‘we’ have consensus on the major issues influencing our profession. The perception of 'unity' is very important for those looking at us from the outside,” Tom said.

Dr. Haines is currently working on a third AOM career objective, the development and implementation of an entry-level doctorate in the field of Oriental medicine. The entry level doctorate will allow people to go straight for their doctorate in AOM instead of first having to receive an elongated master's degree (which is almost four years long) before moving on to the postgraduate clinical doctorate. “An entry-level doctorate will add credibility to the field by providing greater patient care, much needed visibility and, ultimately, be more time-effective and economical for students. ” Tom said.

Dr. Haines is currently a member of the NCCAOM Joint Task Analysis Taskforce, which is conducting a national occupational survey to establish appropriate credentialing guidelines within the field of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He is also working closely with the California Acupuncture Board in their efforts in completing the California 2008 Occupational Analysis, which will help to define what items the entry level California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) will contain.

Dr. Haines said he was  "drawn to this medicine because of its potential to address the major health issues in America, i.e., high levels of stress, poor diets and the lack of exercise." The Leadership Award granted to Dr. Haines from the AAAOM is in response to his unfailing efforts to help people work together in the field of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to improve and create more educational opportunities as well as increase the awareness of this wonderful medicine's potential.