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15 Acupuncture Schools with Failing Programs in the 2017 Official Gainful Employment List

  • 17 Mar 2017 4:27 PM
    Reply # 4673867 on 4671064

    Ouchchch! Rebecca, why would you pour salt on my/our wounds ÷[  ?   

    Of course, our abilities (as healers and as those who need to earn and provide) depend on us, but (there's always some butt on the face) the schools should have an adequate programmes with knowledgeable teachers who can teach. 90% of our teachers didn't know much and, obviously, didn't know how to teach; i gave up asking teachers about anything after a couple months, and if I did later - that was only just for some "mean fun" (sorry, shouldn't have done it). 

    The colleges can't charge so much for lousy teachings. At least they have to prepare students for the boards intense, not practical, questionable, speedy and brutal "crosswords". The information given in classes has no depth, it is not expanded, without the big picture, the points combinations are very limited and don't even reach the level of Board exams what to speak of "unlimited reality of life/practice", and the approaches are quite narrow-minded and outdated (especially concerning "nutrition"). Pharmacopia is just for memorization - not for using; Five elements is just an "outdated" theory; scalp points - forget it (how can one forget something didn't even know ;) ; everything is based on pages numbers from Maciocia, Bensky and Deadman which is very difficult, questionable and not holistic,... I hear all the time that someone went to an acupuncturist and ..."nothing". Why? Many reasons. Some of the main reasons are that one can't heal cluelessly needling only ST36, SP6, KD3, CV12, CV17, LI4, LU7, UB23 points and business won't run just on a good website and "brown smiles"... Now anywhere I go there are so many acupuncturists and massage therapists...Big competition, not much money (for most of them) and at the same time I, personally, knowing/feeling who is who, have a hard time to find someone I can trust or like.

    There are not so many acupuncturists who do make lots of money: if someone does than it means that this person knows how to run business, has good karma and good location...everybody else - out of statistics.

    I don't blame my college for my problems, failures and so on (it is my own responsibility and karmic reactions), but clearly it didn't help me at all and the level of teaching and organization is very polar to fees. And I was a bad student (theoretically, is what it is...Saturn, Rahu, Ketu) - the "smart ones" were even more pissed off (but their good karma and brains took care of the loans and already forgot about big payments, tensions and boredom). But everybody have a different background and most of the people interested in acupuncture come not from riches.     And I wish I was more informed and not cheated about the future and reality.

    I had a friend in California...a beautiful and interesting person...who committed a suicide because she couldn't pay her debts and survive (she got sick in China, couldn't function for awhile, difficulties, depression, couldn't coop no more...). And she was very good as a practitioner as well...

    Actually, this topic is very important. Thank you for bringing this up.

  • 17 Mar 2017 4:43 PM
    Reply # 4673878 on 4671064

    Actually, the government is looking at all schools, not just for-profit schools. While for-profit schools are the biggest demographic of failing schools, public universities also have failing programs, such as the University of California's music technology program. So, the argument that only for-profit institutions are being targeted, is not on point. Also, big name institutions (Harvard, Johns Hopkins - for profit; USC - public) have failing programs, so there really is no favoritism being played here, public or private.

    It is true that there are many factors that come into play after graduating from an OM school. However, the fact is that graduates are struggling, and are not making the money that they need, to survive (eat, pay bills). One note though, the government has estimated that in Arizona, the median income for OM graduates is $15,000, and Texas is about the same. I believe that the federal poverty level is somewhere around $12,000. So OM practitioners, in these states are earning wages/money, that basically, is around, or just above poverty level. Even with all the tax write offs (business expenses), I would still have to say that these people are struggling!

  • 17 Mar 2017 4:56 PM
    Reply # 4673890 on 4673447
    Me wrote:

     I have a few words for the acupuncturist who wants some "student relief"  for their loans.   Interesting phrase "students relief".  What that actually means is They want somebody else who does pay their taxes, who has paid their ow loans and is working hard and is successful, like another successful acupuncturist, to pay for this student. And this is because They are not willing to work hard, or full-time, or work smart, in order to pay back the debt that I personally signed for and accumulated.   Do they think that the government actually grows this money on trees to help students who don't know how to be successful once they leave school? 

    I wonder how this person expects to be successful while having such a dependent attitude, expecting other taxpayers including other acupuncturists to take care of them?

    That is quite a mouthful and hatefull assumption coming from someone who does not know me at all.  I toiled in my practice for 4 years but was never really able to make a living wage.  This is not because I am lazy, unintelligent or unwilling to work hard as you presume.  I was a great student, graduating 3rd in my class and have had a job since the age of 13 when I was legally able to work.  Do you make such bewildering assumptions about your patients who get sick?  Are they all disgusting pigs who deserve their malady because they are fat, lazy and dumb?

    True, there are some successful Acupuncturists, but the overwhelming majority are struggling or out of practice. Meanwhile, the DOE allowed students to borrow as much as MDs for school for an occupation that had no Bureau of Labor Statistics info on income when I started school.  How is that possible?  Seems like a risky loan to me.  So while the minority of practitioners are able to make ends meet, the majority are left making nowhere near the amount an MD, Chiro, PT or similar practitioner with comparable debt are earning.  The he debt to income ratio is just too high.  I think that the government ought to forgive these loans and write them off just as any business or other entity that makes a bad loan has to do when someone can't pay.  No force them into forbearance while the total debt grows for years because of the interest rates.  I don't think that the taxpayers (of whom I am one and have been for 23 years as you erroneously suggested I wasn't) should necessarily have to foot the bill.  The government surely has enough fat to trim for a few acupuncture students.

    You should be embarrassed at your lack of empathy, understanding and compassion for others. Especially as a healthcare practitioner

  • 17 Mar 2017 6:18 PM
    Reply # 4674109 on 4671064
    J. Paul Abadie, PT, L.Ac.

    The profession needs strengthening thru NCCAOM and other national groups that have the money and contacts to do so ... when willingness is added. 

    The profession is strong in some regions; weak in others -- fact of life -- though the national groups could offer a national campaign to help bolster in deficient regions.   State associations, thru legislative action -- and member/professional support, can help accomplish better laws and regulations to strengthen our practice; though it's expensive -- add that to student loan debt!

    Big reform can come with insurance companies paying for claims rather than carte blanche denying them and making  practitioners spend inordinate time (& possibly external expense) to try to resolve these situations -- usually with less than favorable/just reimbursements, if any.

    And Oriental Medical Schools can continue to do their jobs in education of technique & practice; though without expectation to turn out L.Ac.s with an MBA.  Some effective business management education is justifiable; but, needs to be coupled with the new grads willingness to pursue practice management and marketing thru post-graduation endeavors.

  • 17 Mar 2017 7:01 PM
    Reply # 4674149 on 4671064
    Steven Stumpf, EdD

    CN wrote: "these AOM colleges show that they have extremely low default rates, and that most of their graduates are achieving successful, meaningful careers where they are making a positive difference in health care"

    Please share that evidence. Post a document here or send the link.

    CN wrote: “The DOE looks at net earnings for private practice, which is affected by the tax preparer's decision to utilize as many tax deductions to reduce net income and pay less taxes.”

    Not exactly. “The Department calculates debt-to-earnings rates using debt information from the Department’s records and as reported by institutions and earnings data obtained from the Social Security Administration. Source:

    The argument being offered is that LAc earnings are manipulated by tax preparers. The question is moot. Earnings are validated by the Social Security Administration. Let Ms. Niemic share her data illustrating the "lowest default" claim made in their lawsuit. This argument has been made repeatedly throughout the extended struggle by the US ED which states in their announcement “while many postsecondary programs offer value to students, there are a significant number of career training programs—specifically for-profit programs—that do not provide their graduates with a reasonable return on investment.” With 25% of all AOM programs on the GE list it looks like our career training programs are not doing very well in preparing grads to earn a living. Read for yourself…Source:

    For the most recent review of acupuncture workforce outcomes use this link:

  • 18 Mar 2017 12:25 PM
    Reply # 4675086 on 4671064
    Ron Holt, Esq., Counsel to AOM Schools

    Regarding the question about the low loan default rates of the AOM schools in the lawsuit, read the Complaint, which can be found at the link provided in the Stumpf article, The Complaint lists the specific published loan default rates for the last 2 to 3 years for these schools. You can also check out loan default rates on the USDOE School Date Center, . As for the commenter who attempts to diminish the import of low loan default rates by pointing out that borrowers can avert delinquency and default through deferments, forbearances and income based repayment plans, the same can be said of borrowers of any college or university, including state universities and elite nonprofit institutions. And most of those institutions also have single digit default rates. The fact is that the USDOE considers the loan default rate to a key indicator of the quality of an institution and its programs. Rates of 10% or lower lead to favorable status: "A school applying to participate is exempt from submitting a default plan if the school, including its main campus and any branch campus, does not have a cohort default rate greater than 10% and the new owner of the school does not own and has not owned any other school that had a cohort default rate greater than 10% during the owner’s tenure." 2016-17 FSA Handbook, Vol. II, Chap. 4, p. 2-85. While loan default rates apply to all institutions, the same is not true for gainful employment rates:  degree programs offered by nonprofit and public institutions are not subject to GE rates. If GE rates are a valid and reliable measure of program quality - a premise that is belied by the rule's failure to account for numerous economic and student specific factors beyond the control of an institution - then they should be applied to all programs at all institutions. As matters stand now, the GE rates are a misleading metric resulting from flawed methodology. 

  • 18 Mar 2017 12:48 PM
    Reply # 4675095 on 4671064
    Frank Grill,

    Here's a practical idea that won't cost anything.  Every school applicant should be REQUIRED to interview a graduate of that school, and ask a series of questions about what their experience was really like, and what it took to become an acupuncturist.  They should be also be required to interview an acupuncturist who is successful and has paid off their loans, and be educated to the reality of what it takes to make it in business, what it is actually like to bear the burden of that debt.  Let them hear the stories of working a full time job while starting a practice, of struggling and sacrificing, of having to push yourself out of your comfort zone constantly.  Let people hear the truth about what part of the education is valuable and what is time-wasting nonsense.  Yes the schools do not prepare you for running a business but many of the people entering school don't really have the full set of skills for doing that anyway, and may not truly realize that is what is needed.  Don't sell them any illusions about hospital jobs, let people really realize from day 1 of school, that they should be working on their business plan, that they should start their website and social media from the first day of school.  Truly this isn't for everyone and maybe the schools should be more selective with those who don't get it.

  • 18 Mar 2017 1:30 PM
    Reply # 4675164 on 4671064
    Cynthia Cates' L.Ac.

    Frank Grill, what a great idea!  Completely agree.  In order to be successful in ones practice, it's imperative to have an "entrepreneurial" bend in your personality.  It takes dedication, work, & guts, all while being trying to be the best healer you can be.  It would be great to have classes where students visit & report on successful acupuncturists.  They could visit different practices & really get a taste of the variety ways they can design their future practices.  I am a big believer in "reality" checks.  It helps to know ahead of time - what works & the best place to focus ones energy.

    My professors always told me that their job was to make sure we pass the boards.  Being a successful acupuncturist was something we'd have to learn later.  I think with some thought & creativity, our schools can accomplish both.  Especially in this day/age of Skype, FaceTime, etc.

  • 18 Mar 2017 2:49 PM
    Reply # 4675241 on 4671064
    Dr. B

    I recommend before anyone passes judgement on whether or not Acupuncture Physicians get paid enough, let's level the playing field with REAL numbers. As we were given federal loans for our education, we should in all real number fairness be able to be backed by Medicare which hasn't been mentioned. The biggest factors aren't even looked at, just schools are being targeted. Factors are age of Patients needing long term health care like seeing physical therapists and chiropractics are up in age exceeding 65 years old into the Medicare category, a big reason we aren't seeing the pay-off is because federal loans aren't matching federal programs. If we were able to bill medicare this article, plain and simple, WOULD NOT EXIST. PERIOD.

    Do not compare schools with economics if in fact there isn't a true equation. And if you'd like to see the truth today about how much acupuncture physicians really make, simply poll the insurance companies that are billed by Acupuncture Physicians with hard data provided on EOB'S. Going to colleges and asking colleges for data about students professional success isn't factual, it's personality, wealth driven and human nature that will depict student success and outcomes. Some students never took boards, some never wanted to have a full time practice and the big kick in the mouth are those who refused to give their true income in the poll. Yes, it was based off of a college poll. I work at one of the colleges on this list. 

    This is a back door attempt. 

  • 18 Mar 2017 3:19 PM
    Reply # 4675266 on 4673350
    Catherine Niemiec, JD, L.Ac. wrote:

    AOM college loan default rates are extremely low, mostly in the single digits. This means our students are able to pay back their loans. 

    This is poor logic.  Low default rates mean graduates aren't defaulting, thanks to Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plans.  Those with low income are repaying loans in small amounts relative to their small incomes.  If income is small enough, they aren't repaying them at all--and I know L.Ac's who aren't.  The issue at stake is "gainful employment"--that is what the DOE is calculating.  Low default doesn't equate with gainful employment--not by a long shot.

    And many don't "choose" to work part time--it's all they can get.

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