Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine

Doctoral Degree Proposal

SIOM's Doctoral Degree Application

Recently SIOM applied to our accrediting body, ACAOM, to receive approval to offer a doctoral degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. This application is based on a recent decision by ACAOM to allow colleges to offer a doctoral degree as a first degree in this profession, rather than a master's degree. If approved, this would mean that any applicant coming to SIOM interested in studying acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine would be enrolled in a four year doctoral program rather than our present masters degree program in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. In our proposal we would maintain offering a master's degree in acupuncture (M.Ac.). This article is to be the first of a series of updates on our progress with getting the doctoral degree approved. This first report will provide an overview of SIOM's proposed program.

SIOM presently offers a master's degree (M.Ac.O.M.) that provides students with extensive experience working with practitioner/faculty that have had over ten years of practice in the field. These faculty come from various backgrounds in this discipline (Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, French and ancient and contemporary methodologies). This diversity provides the student with a wide array of strategies for approaching patient care. The training includes ongoing study of Chinese medical language to insure students can access native resources that can assist in making clinical decisions. The program emphasizes qi gong and bodywork and a range of palpation methods to insure a practice grounded in direct awareness of the energetics of the patient at the moment of care. All of these program attributes will be continued in the doctoral degree.

What we are recommending to our accrediting body to be the additional emphasis of our doctoral degree is more in depth inquiry by the individual doctoral students into their personal clinical interests, and the manifestation of development of those interests through clinical practice, academic inquiry, research, translation and instruction of others. In other words, once each learner has identified their personal clinical arena needing development, he or she will then work with a doctoral advisor to articulate a study plan to achieve their goals that will include the following:

1) Specialty clinical practice.
2) Scholastic research.
3) Evaluation of outcomes in clinical practice.
4) Collaborative efforts with other health care professionals.
5) Capability to provide professional educational presentations to the public and health care colleagues.

This is a natural capstone to the SIOM training provided at present. Students receive a grounding in a wide range of approaches and interact with a wide range of patient conditions. The three years of training provide the foundation for effective care of patients and capacity to work in this profession. The proposed fourth year of the doctoral program would then offer an opportunity for personal reflection and the refining of personal skills towards the individual clinical goals set by the students for themselves. It could allow learners to integrate the academic and practical skills attained in the first three years into a cohesive practice in which they demonstrate the well rounded traits of being a physician. This includes the capacity to be a compassionate healer, effective teacher, respectful colleague, and inquisitive researcher of personal clinical outcomes, the Chinese medical literature, and the work and publications of other practitioners.

This program is for the independent learner who wants to establish a strong foundation in the therapeutic paradigms and modalities associated with east Asian medicine, and then hone their skills that suit there personal path of practice. If you are interested in this approach, please check back in to our website to get updates on the proposal to our accrediting body and the timeline for its implementation.