By Rachel Brumberger, President, AAAOM Student Organization
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeannie Kang, LAc, president emeritus of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), for an exclusive update on her experience at the American Presidential Experience in early September. Kang and other AAAOM representatives exhibited at the nonpartisan, interactive show of the American presidency that took place during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The story begins with a telephone call that took place between Kang and C. Daerr Reid, LAc, a representative with Acupuncture Advocates, an affiliated political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCAAOM). Dry needling, a controversial topic in the AOM community, was the focus of the discussion. Kang had received an article about a football player treated with acupuncture by a physical therapist practicing dry needling in North Carolina. Wondering what the AOM community could do to appropriately respond to the article, Kang sought Reid for support.
One of the most exciting events for AAAOM
Who knew this would lead to one of the most exciting events that AAAOM has ever participated in? After Kang and Reid conversed about the article, she mentioned that North Carolina had secured a booth at the DNC in the American Presidential Experience exhibit hall (a non-partisan venue) via their association lobbyist, but the association was finding it a challenge to secure the funding to participate in the event. Kang and Reid put their heads together and turned this situation into one of the most successful teamwork moments the profession has seen in years!
Within minutes, Kang was on the telephone with AAAOM colleagues, including President Michael Jabbour as well as people she knew from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and the American Acupuncture Council (AAC). Within hours they secured over 6,000 dollars to pay for and attend the event, booth included. With each group committing monies, supplies, and materials, a team was off to North Carolina, with less than ten days to spare.
Donations started coming in
Reid followed up with the members of the Council of State Associations (CSA) and, despite challenging economic times for the states, donations started coming in from the individual state associations. One hundred dollars here, 300 dollars there, and a generous 500 dollars from NMSAAM, the acupuncture society in New Mexico. “The states really came through, and we are so appreciative,” states Kang.
With the expenses and materials in hand, Kang, representing AAAOM, Kory Ward-Cook and Mina Larson with NCCAOM, and Marilyn Allen, faculty at Emperor’s College as well as other schools, from AAC flew to Charlotte, North Carolina and connected with Reid, Jeremy Linquist, LAc, and many other NC practitioners. With the booth featuring a brand new “Acupuncture in America” banner, newly published AOM info-cards, 800 acupuncture books from AAC, and many more informative materials, the group prepared to engage as many DNC participants as possible.
Nearly 600 DNC attendees at the acupuncture booth
Over 2,500 people from all over the country attended the convention. Nearly 600 participants either received an acupuncture treatment or discussed the high impact of AOM care with the booth reps. Special guest practitioners, including Dr. Jongbae Park, a researcher and practitioner with the UNC School of Medicine, Brian Kramer of Kramer Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and M. Cissy Majebe, the very first chair of the North Carolina Acupuncture Licensing Board, provided the treatments.
Kang reported that four different physicians visited the booth and were delighted to see acupuncture at the convention. Each said they frequently refer their patients for acupuncture treatments. Additionally, the group received guests from the Taiwanese Government Delegation, including representatives from both the ruling and opposition parties.
Moving the profession forward, together
The highlight of the event? As Kang puts it, “Just being there. The fact that three national organizations joined forces to be there in such a short time period was incredible. We are setting precedent, and each year we will be more prepared to engage more people.” The gratitude in Kang’s voice was undeniable; she was very moved to be able to work with colleagues like Reid and Linquist in North Carolina as well as her colleagues at AAAOM, NCCAOM, and AAC. This experience shows clearly that we move the profession forward, together.
What does the future look like? Kang discusses the importance and desire to be at the Republican National Convention in four years and explained that we couldn’t participate this year because there were no booths at the event. She notes, for the DNC, “We plan to be there in four years from now, and we are looking forward to it.”
Rachel Brumberger is a third year clinic level student at Tai Sophia Institute in Maryland and currently serves as the president of the AAAOM Student Organization. The deep value and healing that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can bring to people is the driving power behind Brumberger’s passion for practicing acupuncture and working with AAAOM to ensure the accessibility and integrity of our medicine. Brumberger holds a BA in communication from the University of Maryland College Park and a certificate in non-profit management. www.acupuncturewithrachel.com
AAAOM, acupuncture and AAAOM, acupuncture at the DNC, American Acupuncture Council, American Presidential Experience, Dr. Jongbae Park, NCCAOM