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AB 918 Education Packet
The following materials are provided to legislators to explain the purpose of AB918.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – last updated March 3, 2021
(CSOMA also mailed this 1-page FAQ in late February to all members.)
Does my licensure get grandfathered in to this new NCCAOM requirement?
Many current CA licensees are eligible to apply for NCCAOM certification through a pathway offered directly by the NCCAOM. It requires updating your Clean Needle Technique (CNT) with the CCAOM, submission of other key docs (CA acupuncture license, degree diploma), plus a certification fee.
Details are found here: https://www.nccaom.org/certification/california-route/
Does this new national affiliation now make it possible for me to practice in other states without having to take additional exams?
Acupuncture licensure is specific to each state. Some states require that you pass all of the actual NCCAOM exam modules, other states require only a few modules, and other states require only an NCCAOM certification with no mention of specific tests.
Licensure requirements in each state are found at: https://www.nccaom.org/advocacy-regulatory/state-relations/
I’m an acupuncturist from out of state, but residing in CA. I have my NCCAOM certification. If this passes, would I then be able to practice in CA, without taking the CALE? What is the timeframe?
If/when AB 918 passes into becoming law, there will remain many details to work out through the policies and procedures that guide law change.
There will likely be an additional exam required for California-specific laws, rules and regulations in addition to passing all of the national exams. The date when national exams were taken could affect eligibility/portability. For example, I believe it was not until 2016 (around then) that an independent auditor found the NCCAOM examinations and the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) to be comparable in demonstrating practitioner competency. https://www.acupuncture.ca.gov/pubs_forms/nccaom_audit.pdf?fbclid=IwAR12ktuKayyceXnbNtETIzvkSoROzc7oiHNhSiCjhfKJN6qzfeXy-SxyU40
If you are already licensed in California will this automatically convert you to an NCCAOM diplomat?
No, AB 918 will not automatically convert currently licensed acupuncturists into NCCAOM diplomats. This bill focuses on allowing new license applicants to take the NCCAOM examination series (plus maybe an additional CA specific module about rules/regs) instead of the CALE.
For currently licensed CA acupuncturists, the NCCAOM is offering a “short” route to become NCCAOM diplomats without taking the NCCAOM exams. (Be mindful that each state has different criteria for licensure, and many require that you take the actual exams, and not just have a diplomat status.) Please see https://www.nccaom.org/advocacy-regulatory/state-relations/
This “short route” opportunity lasts until August 2021, so consider planning ahead to insure your paperwork is in order. Details can be found here. https://www.nccaom.org/certification/california-route/
If you have completed Route 8 for national licensing (as a California licensed acupuncturist), can you then just use your national license to practice acupuncture in California after this bill is passed?
Licensing is specific and unique to each state. Some states only require NCCAOM diplomat status, while others require specific exams. Moreover, each state has different education requirements (hours, topics covered, clinical practicum, etc). There is no “national license,” only national certification, which is only one aspect of gaining a state license.
How does the passing of this bill impact which continuing education requirements need to be fulfilled? Will this be based on which state you are practicing in, as each state has different CEU requirements?
AB 918 currently does not affect CEU requirements for either CA or NCCAOM licensure renewals.
How will the bill, if passed, affect when our renewal is due? The NCCAOM is every four years, California license is every two years.
AB 918 currently does not affect license renewal for either CA or NCCAOM status.
I have already been approved by the NCCAOM. If this bill passes, then will California LAcs still need CEU’s specific to California, or will NCCAOM CEU programs suffice?
AB 918 currently does not affect the structure of state nor national CEU credit requirements.
Does AB 918 get rid of the California Acupuncture Board (CAB) and their jurisdiction on public safety and oversight of CA Licensees?
No, this bill only replaced the CALE with the NCCAOM exam. The CAB will be able to focus more so on public safety, issuing CA state licenses.
In summary, here’s what AB 918 doesn’t do:
- AB 918 does not affect currently licensed practitioners.
- AB 918 does not “open the doors” for people with less education or training to practice in CA.
- AB 918 does not change any requirements for licensing (other than which exam is required).
- AB 918 does not affect professional oversight by the California Acupuncture Board (CAB).
- AB 918 does not change continuing education.
- AB 918 does not change license renewal fees or CE provider fees.
Q: Will AB 918 help students have greater access to jobs in California and in other states?
Yes, AB 918 is designed to support new acupuncture graduates by updating CA’s license requirements to a new “gold standard” of credentials that includes CA’s high education standards, plus a licensing examination process that grants NCCAOM certification in the process.
This change would allow a new CA licensee to be automatically credentialed for jobs at the VA, hospitals, etc. and make it easier to practice in other states (since most other states have lower education standards but require NCCAOM certification.)
AB 918 is for the next generation of CA acupuncturists. This change would set-up our new graduates with nationally-recognized credentials so they can practice in any job in CA (hospital, VA, Medicare) and also access licensing in other states with far greater ease. (Note: license requirements vary state-to-state.)
Q: Does AB 918 change education requirements in CA, or any other aspect of license eligibility?.
AB 918 does not affect the current education standards required for licensure in California. California requires 3,000 hours of education, in very specific areas of study (i.e. 950 clinical training hours, clean needle technique, etc). That does not change.
Anyone applying for a CA license still has to meet all the other requirements (fingerprinting, background check, etc.) None of that changes, either.
The California Acupuncture Board (CAB) would still oversee all aspects of licensing and consumer safety, just as it does now.
AB 918 simply allows the California Acupuncture Board to accept the NCCAOM exam instead of the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) for the exam requirement of a new license application.
It is possible that CA would still require a CA-specific exam module (in addition to the four NCCAOM modules) that would cover CA acupuncture rules, regulations, reporting laws and business codes.
Q: How does AB 918 help establish a “national standard” for the acupuncture profession? Why are national standards important?
Demand for acupuncture services is growing quickly – at hospitals, the VA, Medicare, in other integrative medicine centers, etc.
The organizations that create new national healthcare programs want to work with professions that are well-trained, well-organized, and that can prove they provide “consistency of care.”
Our profession needs to make sure that when new legislation includes “acupuncture benefits” that it also includes something like “services provided by a licensed acupuncturist.” We need to prove why licensed acupuncturists are the safest and best choice to provide acupuncture medicine.
National standards for our practitioners are essential to being included in these discussions. NCCAOM is a respected national standard for our profession that has meaning to legislators and the people who build healthcare programs.
Will AB 918 make it possible for practitioners from other states to gain licensure in California without meeting the other requirements?
AB 918 will make it easier for CA acupuncturists to go to other states after practicing here because they already will have passed all of the NCCAOM exams.
Practitioners from other states who have fewer didactic or clinical training hours, or who do not meet CA standards in any other aspect would not be eligible for licensure in CA simply because they have NCCAOM certification.
(Keep in mind, each state has its own unique requirements. For example, Nevada requires more education hours than CA, while other states require training on point injection therapy or other interventions specific to the scope of practice within that state.)
Licensing exams are intended to prove competency for entry into a profession and are meant to be combined with other criteria to create standards. Not long ago, it was a widely perceived that the CALE was far more difficult that the NCCAOM. Fortunately, the NCCAOM worked hard to improve their exam. More specifically:
In 2016, the NCCAOM exam was found to have “parity” to the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE) through an independent audit conducted by the CA Department of Consumer Affairs. Even the California Acupuncture Board (CAB) made a recommendation at that point to adopt the NCCAOM exam modules (plus add a 5th module that is CA-focused) for people to get licensed in CA. Visit https://www.acupuncture.ca.gov/pubs_forms/nccaom_audit.pdf?fbclid=IwAR12ktuKayyceXnbNtETIzvkSoROzc7oiHNhSiCjhfKJN6qzfeXy-SxyU40
CSOMA will continue updating this FAQ. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.