Sunday, February 25, 2018

The BLS Standard Occupational Code for Acupuncturists


keywords:  occupational code, SOC, hospital credentialing, profession tracking, issues in student loan repayment, the development of a profession, why and how a federal occupational code (SOC) makes a difference for a profession


Did you know, that, for the first time in our profession, we have a unique Standard Occupational Code (SOC), published and being tracked by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics since Jan. 1st, 2018?


This is a major milestone for our profession.

29-1291 Acupuncturist


Two other major milestones for hospital-practice Acupuncturists have occurred within just 40 days of this.

  1. The Joint Commission Pain Management Standard began official implementation Jan. 1st, 2018 for any accredited facility (most U.S. hospitals strive for accreditation by the Joint Commission).  This includes requiring facilities to provide non-pharmacological pain management therapies (such as acupuncture/East Asian medicine, chiropractic, yoga, physical therapy, health psychology) by qualified, licensed practitioners. 
  2. The VA Occupation/Staffing Handbook was updated February 7th, 2018 to include a professional occupation distinction, Acupuncturist.

So, how does having a standard occupational code (SOC) make a difference?

In my experience, this makes a difference in at least 2 ways:

  1. Potential for the profession to be eligible and included as in federal student loan forgiveness programs
  2. Makes it easier for health care organizations to create job descriptions and credentialing packets for your occupation.  
    1. So, if you are the first or one of the first people in your profession to work in that health care facility, civilian OR federal, the facility now has this basic standard that they are accustomed to reference, the BLS SOC Handbook, to write the basic outline for the job (position) description and the outline for your credentialing packet.



Storytime
Time period:  2006 - 2010
Hospital Credentialing Office:  What is the occupational code for your profession? 
Me, as a volunteer in the early 2000s:  I don't know.  Let me find out.   
Calling my mentors and national organizations:  What is our occupational code?
...crickets...then, 
Someone in the NCCAOM® office:  Actually, we are working on it. 
Me:  Cool.  What does that mean? 
NCCAOM®:  It's complicated.
[Check out all of NCCAOM® (staff and volunteers) work on how they worked on this process over the past decade or so on their webpage
Me, to the Credentialing office in the early 2000s:  My profession does not have a specific BLS federal occupational code at this time. Here are some related standards and the current update on the process. 
Hospital Credentialing Office:  [that dreading look of "this means I have to pull together something from scratch"].  Do you have any examples of how Acupuncturists have been credentialed at other facilities? 
Me, calling the few contacts I had at hospitals Can you share with my facility a copy of what your credentialing department? 
Answers:  "no, this is proprietary information".  "yes, we would love to!"

Fast-forward to 2018:
Hospital Sponsor/Credentialing office:  What is your occupational code?
Acupuncturist:  29-1291 Acupuncturist.
Hospital Sponsor/Credentialing office:  Thank you.  Do you have any examples you can share of other facilities' credentialing standards for your profession?
Acupuncturist:  Yes.

  1. Here is the VA's published occupation staffing code for Acupuncturists, published in Feb. 2018
  1. Here are my national organization, NCCAOM® Hospital-based Task Force guidelines on credentialing documents, published in 2016:
  • "Credentialing of Acupuncturists for Hospital-based Practice:  A Resource Guide for NCCAOM® Diplomates".  July 2016.
  • "Credentialing Licensed Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Professionals for Practice in Healthcare Organizations:  An Overview and Guidance for Hospital Administrators, Acupuncturists and Educators".  October 2016. 



...end of storytime...


Where can I find the federal BLS Occupational Code Manual to revel at the code, finally published?

Go to the Standard Occupational Code (SOC) webpage on the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics website and follow the links to the 2018 Manual  

You can view a pdf of the 2018 Manual from here.  For the published occupational code listing for Acupuncturist, go to p. 107 in the document (114 in the pdf).  This Manual has been officially in use since Jan. 1st, 2018.  




References
The 2018 Standard Occupational Code (SOC) Manual
The NCCAOM® multi-year work on the SOC for Acupuncturists
The Joint Commission Pain Management Standard Clarification
Publications:  Hospital-based Task Force papers and Recognition of Acupuncturist as Licensed Independent Practitioner (LIP)

Related Blogposts
The VA Occupational Code for Acupuncturists
Why this Project?  Megan's story

Want to learn more on documenting clinical change in your patient-centered practice? 
Check out our Metrics series posts: The Pain Scale and Medication Review:  Calculating Morphine Equivalent Dose (MEQ).

If you have found this blogpost useful, please contribute $5 or $25 today to support the Hospital Practice Handbook Project resource.  
Thank you. 


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