BAAB letter: a clarification
The British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB) recently sent the letter below to all students, outlining what they are doing to help you continue on your course.
We would like to make a correction to the paragraph third from the end: 'Finally, you will be aware that BAcC members are not able to practise at the moment because of the risk they may carry of passing on the Covid-19 virus to their patients.'
In fact, some members are choosing to work remotely, and we have been able to offer them a cheaper temporary category of ‘short-term insured’ membership.
Most BAcC members have chosen to close their practices for the time being, and we have transferred them to 'non-practising' membership, saving them considerable expense whilst they cannot see their patients in clinic.
Some members have even chosen to continue paying their full subscription, despite the limits on practice, as a gesture of support for the continuing work of the BAcC. Operating with a reduced staff team all working from home, we continue regular communications to members, as well as lobbying on behalf of acupuncturists with the government and maintaining our accredited position with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
On behalf of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB), we are writing today to reassure you that we are doing all we can to ensure that you will be able to continue progressing through your course and achieve your goal of becoming an acupuncturist.
We appreciate the huge changes you have had to make in the way you study and take your assessments, and how much you will be missing being at your college/university, seeing patients, friends and teachers and maintaining your clinical practice or observation. Many of you will be facing the difficulties of managing housebound children, the responsibilities of being key workers, and the health of your friends and families, alongside keeping up with your studies. Inevitably, there will be worries about money, and the uncertain future the pandemic has brought to our lives.
In the short term, along with universities, schools and other education providers, we all have to be flexible about what is possible and reasonable during these weeks and months. Obviously, for you, this has meant that all of your teaching, learning and assessment has been moved online. This can be a big change, and we are very grateful to you and to the staff of the accredited course providers, who have worked tirelessly over recent weeks to ensure your education is able to continue during the COVID-19 emergency. It has involved enormous skill and effort on their part to re-schedule teaching and put activities online.
We want to let you know that the BAAB has agreed that, while the emergency continues, your course provider can change arrangements for teaching, assessment, and other aspects of your course, provided that the basic standards for accreditation are met. We have asked them to inform us of the changes, so we can assure this. Some have been in direct contact with us about their arrangements, and all course providers will let us know in due course about the re-arrangements they have made.
Significantly, practical skills teaching and clinical practice and observation are not possible at the moment, and will inevitably have to be undertaken outside of your expected timetable, or taken in extra time in your following years. As you will see below, the BAAB and the BAcC has been able to make special arrangements about clinical practice requirements for students who are graduating this year. For those of you currently at levels 4 and 5, you may think that the current situation will have a knock-on effect for you as well. Hopefully, you will have caught up by then, but if it’s necessary we will discuss with BAcC whether similar arrangements can be put in place for those of you due to graduate in 2021.
As the outcomes of the present crisis becomes clearer over the next few months, we will be able to talk with you, the course providers, our BAAB colleagues and the BAcC to make sure that you are given every opportunity to complete your course in a meaningful, flexible and effective way which meets the necessary standards.
As the accrediting body, the BAAB’s responsibility is to make sure that every graduate meets the requirements in the BAcC Standards of Education and Training for Acupuncture (SETA), which you can find on the BAAB website. The key issue for us, is to balance a flexible response to the current situation, whilst making sure that the standards are met by every graduating student for the next few years. Getting this balance right achieves two things. Firstly, that we can assure the BAcC that every graduate from an accredited college has done everything they need to rightly gain membership. Secondly, to ensure that you have the confidence that your training and education is every bit as good as any other BAcC member. This is our challenge, and we are ready and able to meet it.
Those of you approaching graduation in the coming months are naturally concerned that it will be impossible to complete the required 400 clinical hours by your expected date of graduation. The BAcC has agreed, exceptionally, that graduating students who have completed all other course requirements may be granted provisional registration for four months following graduation, with the following conditions:
- Course providers must be confident any graduating students applying for provisional membership are able to practice safely.
- Course providers must continue to log these students’ clinical hours, in the expectation that by the end of this four-month period, the full 400 hours will have been completed.
- Course providers may utilise the final 40 hours of clinical practice via ‘indirect supervision’, as long as the guidelines in the BAAB Accreditation Handbook are fully met.
- Graduating students applying for this provisional BAcC membership are provided with documents to submit to the BAcC evidencing:
- the number of clinical hours already completed
- the plans for completing any remaining hours
We are confident that the changes we and your course providers have made and will continue to make will give you the best possible chance of fulfilling your goal of becoming a successful practicing acupuncturist, despite all the current obstacles. We are keeping the situation under review and will take further action as necessary.
Finally, you will be aware that BAcC members are not able to practice at the moment because of the risk they may carry of passing on the Covid 19 virus to their patients. This is the subject of huge regret, as we know that acupuncturists could contribute very positively to the health of their patients. It also leaves members without an income, and new graduates with huge challenges in setting up their new practices. The BAcC has quite rightly transferred all its members to non-practicing status, as a result of their advice. This is a great help to members, by substantially reducing their membership fees. Naturally, this creates a significant loss of income to the professional body, so many members of staff have been furloughed. This includes Natalie Johnson, the Admissions & Student Membership Officer, so if you have trouble getting through to her, this may be why. Other staff are taking over her responsibilities, and they are all working very hard to cover everything, but there may be delays in responding to you at this time.
Meanwhile, the BAcC are preparing for the acupuncture profession to return to practice once the immediate crisis is over. They are researching the evidence from China to explore claims that TCM may be able to reduce the effects of the virus; preparing promotions for the potential that more people will be interested in using acupuncture to improve their health and their immunity; and lobbying for acupuncture to be accepted as a valid healthcare option.
Despite all the current difficulties, becoming a practicing acupuncturist is a wonderful career choice. Your course provider, supported by the BAAB, is doing everything they can to help you to succeed in your chosen career. The BAcC is responding appropriately to the situation and will be there to support you, both as a student, and as a professional when you graduate. We are all committed to you and doing our very best to make sure you achieve what you set out to do in becoming a professional acupuncturist and a member of the BAcC.
Professor Mike Saks, Chair, BAAB
Harriet Lansdown, Lead Accreditation Officer, BAAB