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How to Hang a Shingle: Tips for Success after Graduation

  
  
  
You’ve done it!  4 or so hard years, bushels of tests, late night studying, endless intern clinics, harrowing Board exams; your diploma is clutched in your rosy hand, and the future waits just outside the door of the auditorium.  Then it hits you – you have no idea what to do next.

For the last four years, your life has been more or less ordered for you – class times, clinic times, study times, work times – and now it’s totally up to you.  How do you take all your training and make it work for you, to build a future?  There’s no sure pattern for success, and your mentors and teachers are no longer watching over you every day to give guidance. The world can look very scary out of the school setting, but before you pull your lab coat over your head and hide, take heart.  You can survive, and thrive, as an acupuncturist.

Hopefully, you started working on what you were going to do and where long before you graduated.  Finding a good location that’s not in a saturated area is important, and establishing a name for yourself in that area is vital, even before you graduate.  If you joined your local Chamber of Commerce, some local networking groups and service groups, you have a head start, because all your fellow members are prospective patients.  If you haven’t joined those organizations yet, now is the time to do it. You’ll probably have a few months before your license is granted, so use the time wisely. Network, meet people, shake a lot of hands – your enthusiasm will be contagious, and people will be curious.  Make sure you’re armed with business cards, brochures, and a website before you go into battle.  Get a name registered as a DBA in your county, and get yourself a shirt with the name and logo on it.  Then wear it.  Everywhere.  You’d be surprised how many people will ask about it.

Find someone who is established to start with so you can learn the ropes.  Most established acupuncturists are more than willing to take on an intern to work the front desk and learn the business; you can also find a lot of chiropractors who are happy to take an acupuncturist on.  Even though some of them advertise they can do acupuncture, most of them don’t have the time to do it, and welcome new graduates.  When your license comes in the mail, you’ll be ready to jump into the pool, so get your feet planted somewhere while you’re waiting.

Once licensed, use all those contacts you made.  Hand out gift certificates – one free treatment isn’t going to break you, and those people will come back for more.  Use them for door prizes at local events, especially women’s events. Use them in Chamber Auctions, for Chamber Lunches, or to support an auction at your local High School.  Give them as gifts for birthdays.  Soon, those patients will tell others, and you’re on your way.  Participate in events and go to some health fairs – let people see and get to know you. Utilize social networking as well, you can learn a lot from other acupuncturists, both established and just beginning.  Use free time wisely to learn more about running your practice. Before you know it, you’re treating 20 patients a week, then thirty, then forty, and your first year will be coming to a close.

As long as you realize that learning doesn’t stop when school ends, you’ll do just fine.  Reach out, and your practice will grow.  Above all, trust in yourself, and your hard-won skills.

 

Kathy Kerr acupunctureKathy Kerr, LAc, MAcOM, AOBTA, is an Acupuncturist practicing in Georgetown, TX.  She graduated from AOMA in 2008 and has taught several brown bags and business development classes.  Her undergrad is in marketing and management, and foreign language. Kathy lives in Round Rock with her husband, two dogs and a bird named Qing Long. Visit her website here: www.orientalmedicineassociates.com.

 

 

 

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Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

 

Retrospective Reflection: An AOMA Career Observed

  
  
  

When I came to AOMA, all I really knew was that this stuff was magic and I wanted to do it.  I knew very little about traditional Chinese medicine, although I was fairly learned in general Taoism.  It was a long path, beginning in my religious studies curriculum in my undergrad program that culminated with me enrolling here ten years later.  I changed a lot in that time, but I’ve changed more since.

I started in the program having most recently worked as a sixth-grade teacher, something I knew I never wanted to do again.  But I got into that business to “help people”, or whatever I assumed would bring some personal value to my professional life.  This would be a one-on-one version of helping people, and that was something I’d never really done.  Also, I would be touching people familiarly, which I’d also never done.  I was nervous, but it was still very theoretical at that point, and clinic was still two years away.

I felt very at home in class from the outset.  I’ve been a scholastic overachiever my whole life, so reading interesting texts, listening to brilliant professors, and getting A’s on tests fit right into my established personality.  Only in Point Location did I really start to see a different side of the coin: we’d be touching each other, and we’d be taking our clothes off in front of each other to some extent.  I’m modest and wasn’t particularly excited about this second part.  But I realized immediately that this business required people taking their clothes off in front of me.  I challenged myself and volunteered to be a Point Location model anytime it could be embarrassing, and eventually got pretty comfortable with it.

I made some friends my first term, but they moved on without me when my father died during my second term and I withdrew.  I joined the next cohort and had to reestablish myself.  It took some time, but I forced myself to be open to the new class, partially because they were with me all the time and partially because it was an exercise in fighting my shyness and practicing networking, neither of which come naturally to me.

My father’s death had a profound effect on my time at AOMA.  I questioned my new path and decided his death didn’t change what I was going to do.  But depression settled into the lives of my wife and me, and I took little pleasure in anything.  But somehow, at school I didn’t feel the same.  I was working on something larger, and I was able to divorce my emotional turmoil from my sense of purpose in my education.  Still, I was always cognizant of an inescapable fact: I would never have the opportunity to put needles in my dad.

There is a varied student body at this school.  My wife and I threw a Super Bowl party every year, and one year I realized I was sitting on my couch between two doctors, one a chiropractor and one a naturopath.  I never previously saw myself as being in a social circle with doctors, but there I was.  Equally notable among students are the esoteric, energy-focused students, the kind who always know what the moon is doing, the kind who regularly speak about feeling the love in a group or about their heart energies opening.  I am not this kind of person.  I am analytical.  I majored in English because it interested me, not because it came naturally to me.  The theoretical and informational aspects of this education are right in my wheelhouse.  The energetic, esoteric aspects I’ve had to develop, and in this I am still very incomplete and must continue to progress in it.

Herbs was the first subject here that really tested me.  It was more information than I’ve ever had to learn, with more detail and various angles than I’m used to dealing with.  I actually had to study, and this was difficult.  I made myself do it, and I found that I could be successful in it.  This gave me more confidence that I was doing the right thing.

By far, the clinical education in this program has been the most transformative.  I’ve seen the power of the medicine promote healing, even when I thought I’d performed a sub-par treatment.  I’ve seen patients cry right in front of me, and I’ve learned how to maintain a professional but caring presence for them.  I’ve grown comfortable with touching patients of all genders, sizes, and ages.  I’ve seen the ravages of disease, both physical and psycho-spiritual.  I’ve learned what it means to have a level of trust put in me that I would have previously thought impossible.  I’ve feigned confidence, and then grown into it.  In my time in clinic, I’ve felt myself grow from a student into an acupuncturist, and I like the way it feels.

As I graduate and move into this profession, I must stay motivated.  Typically, I excel in formal classes, because I feel a sense of obligation to the professor and I want to get good grades.  I usually want to use my free time to read fiction and watch movies.  But now there are many aspects of my professional career that I need to study, and I must study to promote my abilities.  Initially, I will focus on subjects to support building a new business, accepting insurance, recognizing red flags.  I feel that I still need significant practice with herbal medicine to be truly effective, and I have several resources that I will begin studying, primarily from a Classical viewpoint.  I also want to continue developing my acupuncture technique, and I think I will focus first on perfecting my mirroring and imaging techniques and on Master Tong acupuncture. This is just the beginning of my life-long learning in the field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Concerning the educational outcomes at AOMA, I would say I feel very confident in collecting and analyzing patient data, producing a correct diagnosis, and coming up with a solid treatment, both with acupuncture and with herbs.  I have a fair understanding of the basics of biomedical assessment.  I’m comfortable with recognizing red flags or important times for referrals, as well as in basic physical assessment for range of motion and determining involved structures.  I’ve grown more effective in including the patient in their treatment in a collaborative way, but I can continue to improve.  I want buy-in, I want their trust, I want their compliance, and collaboration is the best way to earn these.  I’m confident in my literature reviews and outcome measures of any single patient, though I must stay on top of current studies and outside literature to continue to increase my efficacy.

I’m comfortable with my professionalism at this point.  I believe that I act, behave, and perform in this medicine as professionally as I possibly can at this point.  I have a strong sense of medical and personal ethics, and I keep the good of the patient always at the forefront.  This is not to say that I cannot continue to improve.  I can, and I will.  I truly do believe in the utmost importance of true rectitude and professionalism.  I believe that what we as acupuncturists, moxibustionists, and herbalists can drastically alter the health outcomes for a wide range of people, and eventually for the Western medical landscape as a whole.

As I look back at this educational experience, the place that I have the most room for improvement is in implementing what I’ve learned in my own life.  At times, I feel like a dried-out husk of a person.  As a new father and soon-graduate, I’ve been burning the proverbial candle on both ends, as well as in the middle.  I picture my adrenals as a couple of dehydrated raisins.  Finally, in just one week, I will again have some time to devote to myself and my own health.  I know the transformative abilities of qigong, daily exercise, regular acupuncture treatments, meditation, herbal intake, and rest.  For the most effective clinical outcomes, I want my clients to grow in each of these areas.  It is now time for me to do the same.  I need to show my clients that I buy what I’m selling, and that I’m the better for it.  It’s time for me to be an example of a life well lived and enriched by Chinese Medicine.

bryan ellettBryan Ellett, MAOM, L.Ac.

Bryan was first introduced to acupuncture while studying Eastern religion at SMU.  When acupuncture successfully treated his own allergies and saved his wife from undergoing surgery, he decided to pursue this ancient science as a full-time career.  Bryan graduated from the prestigious AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin where he was recognized as a top student of acupuncture, herbology, and Asian bodywork.  He is licensed by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners and is board certified by the NCCAOM.  Bryan has training in modern biomedicine, allowing him to work together with physicians to address varying health issues.  In his clinical practice, he has successfully treated clients for a wide variety of conditions including digestive disorders, pregnancy-related discomforts and menstrual irregularities, emotional issues, smoking cessation, chronic hepatitis, vertigo, sports injuries, and chronic pain.  Most recently, he edited a book on pediatric acupuncture with respected physician and acupuncturist Dr. Jamie Wu.  He speaks conversational and medical Spanish, and is trained in cosmetic acupuncture.

Bryan believes that the best way to benefit the world is to enrich his corner of it, which is why he is committed to staying local and treating the people in his very own neighborhood.  When he is not curing what ails his community, Bryan can be found playing frisbee golf, strumming his guitar, or reading.  He lives in Lake Highlands with his wife Heather, young son Emerson, loud dog Capote, and ornery cat Syd Franklin.

Lake Highlands Acupuncture serves the communities of Lake Highlands, East Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, and Richardson, Texas.

Master of Acupuncture \u0026amp\u003B Oriental Medicine

InterTransform Mentoring Circle: Professional & Personal Prowess

  
  
  

Calling all leaders, coaches, teachers, role models, and guides!mentoring

After in-depth assessment & re-envisioning, AOMA Admissions is pleased to present a newly-designed  mentor program for new students that better reflects the needs, goals, and ideals expressed by AOMA’s student body.

AOMA is excited to introduce the NEW InterTransform Mentoring Circle!

Mission Statement:

InterTransform Mentoring Circle offers a structured extracurricular environment for students to build peer relationships and cultivate professional prowess. The program:

  • Fosters community amongst and between  student cohorts,  helping new students lay a  foundation for success,
  • Features  group-mentoring cohorts,  positioning the program as a
    microcosm of the AOMA community at large,
  • Trains participants to model collaborative, inclusive, and
    appropriate relationships in a professional and academic setting,
  • Provides opportunities for self reflection, and to practice building
    confidence in networking with peers .

Program Description:

For many new students, AOMA’s MAcOM program represents their first entry to a professional career. For others, the MAcOM is a reimagining or transformation of their professional career. InterTransform Mentoring Circle helps new students from any background acclimate to the culture of AOMA’s student and academic communities.

The program’s model featuring group-mentoring cohorts positions the program as a microcosm of the AOMA community at large. The program benefits participants and the greater AOMA student body by increasing and promoting sustained, meaningful connections across cohorts, levels of study, and social groups.

Program participants are trained to model collaborative, inclusive, and appropriate relationships in a professional and academic setting. The program sets a standard for thoughtful communication and relationship building, thereby encouraging similar behaviors across all facets of AOMA’s student community.

The program provides opportunities for students to reflect upon, and practice building confidence in networking with advanced peers, ultimately supporting the development of behaviors that may be beneficial in future professional and/or academic settings.

Program Components:

Joining the Program:  Nominations for mentors are solicited from faculty members, AOMA Student Association representatives, and staff. Eligible students must be in good academic standing and have completed at least 6 terms at AOMA or have begun clinical internship. All mentors must complete an application form to be considered for the program.

Participation as a mentee is voluntary and new students may apply to participate as mentees at the start of their first 3 terms within the master’s program. Mentees are required to complete an application form prior to enrollment in the program.

Training: Mentors are required to participate in all training activities and to review all training materials. Training for mentors focuses on developing effective leadership and communication skills, establishing interpersonal boundaries and expectations, and goal-setting. Both mentors and mentees have access to student services support throughout the program and mentors are given information about how to make appropriate referrals for student services.

One of AOMA’s faculty, Rupesh Chhagan, LAc, MSOM, LMT, serves as an advisor to the program and assists with mentor training. Chhagan teaches the Clinical Communication Skills series within the graduate program.

Duration: An individual mentoring period lasts 3 academic terms. Participants’ satisifaction with the program is assessed at the end each mentoring period.

To apply to be a mentor, or to request more information, contact Elizabeth Arris at student@aoma.edu.

 

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