Gail Daugherty never expected a chronic shoulder issue to land her in acupuncture school, studying Chinese medicine. As a competitive swimmer and triathlete, she had been experiencing severe shoulder pain and limited range of motion that began affecting her sleep, mood, and ability to perform certain tasks. The doctors wanted to inject steroids and were even thinking of surgery.
Gail, with her PhD in holistic nutrition and abundance of body awareness, wasn’t interested in either. A fellow triathlete recommended acupuncture and she thought, “No way! That sounds like it hurts and it probably doesn’t even work.”
A year later with worse pain and greater limited range of motion, another triathlete gave her the number of her acupuncturist. Gail begrudgingly committed to 10 sessions with major reservations. Although it took three months to notice a difference in her shoulder, she eventually ended up pain free with complete range of motion returned. Gail was hooked. Not only was she an avid believer in the effectiveness of Chinese medicine, she began cultivating a strong interest in learning how to do it herself.
After her personal experiences with the medicine, acupuncture school was always in the back of her mind, and she would check out schools every time she looked for a new place to live. Her opportunity to study acupuncture serendipitously presented itself at last while she was working in Mexico. She received a call from Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine asking if she would be interested in teaching Biochemical Nutrition at their school. It was an irresistible opportunity to live in a beautiful community by the ocean and learn more about acupuncture. After her first trimester of teaching, she began taking classes. Though she began her studies in California, Gail eventually decided to transfer to AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine where she completed the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program.
Three days after her 2009 graduation she went to work on cruise ships as an acupuncturist. She traveled the world and saw places she never thought she would get to see (like the Great Sphinx of Giza), all the while learning how to talk to people about acupuncture and encourage them to try it.
“I was very fortunate to work on the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. I saw between 80-100 patients per week, which really allowed me to hone my skills and find my specialties,” Gail said.
Now Gail is a licensed practitioner and the Clinic Director of Pain Free Acupuncture Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Her clinic has two locations, one in Plano at the Willow Bend Wellness Center and one in Craig Ranch inside The Cooper Clinic. She will be opening a third site at The Cooper Clinic’s Dallas location next year and is in the process of interviewing and hiring several acupuncturists. She specializes in pain management, injury recovery, allergies, and stress reduction using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Dr. Tan Balance method, and NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques).
When reminiscing about her time spent at AOMA, what sticks out most to Gail is working at White Crane (now AOMA Herbal Medicine) and smelling and touching the herbs, seeing how people were using them, and being immersed in the learning environment there. “The people I met at AOMA were incredibly diverse, but we continue to be uniquely bound. It’s wonderful to share an intense experience with so many wonderful people,” she said
One of Gail’s current business ventures involves acupuncture business coaching services and a related workbook.
“I've written a workbook and have a coaching practice to help acupuncturists be successful and inspire them to get over their fears and obstacles,” Gail said. “I've been working with therapists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists to help them want to get out of their comfort zone, because that's where the magic happens.”
According to Gail, it’s all a matter of perspective. “Once practitioners can get to the point where they see no other option but to be successful, they are,” she said. “The trick is for them to know where they are right now, where they're heading, and finally -- how to get there.”
Growing her practice, all the while helping other practitioners be successful, has really brought Gail’s love of helping and healing people to a whole new level.
With a blossoming career to show for all of the hard work she has put in, she clearly has an abundance of excellent advice for other acupuncturists entering the field.
“Find which acupuncture styles and conditions you are the best at using and treating; it’s important to choose 1-3 things that you are really, really good at treating,” Gail said. “I think it’s a mistake to want to treat everything. Would you go to a doctor that treats asthma, delivers babies, and does heart surgery? I wouldn’t. I want to go to the best doctor for each issue that comes up.”
Gail’s secret formula to success in the field?
1. Get out of your office and talk to people
“If you want to work for yourself you have to wear many hats,” Gail says. “Most of those hats are things you don’t like doing. Make a commitment to get out of your office four hours a week and go talk to people. Since my practice focuses on pain and injury, I set up a table with my liquid herbs, brochures and some needles and let every single person that walks by me know that I’m an acupuncturist and I’m here to answer any of their questions. Some people breeze by and try to ignore you, but most people are very interested in TCM. It’s uncomfortable, but so is sitting in an empty office waiting for the phone to ring.”
2. Know your craft and be the best you can at what you do
“Don’t be afraid to refer. I specialize in pain, stress, injury, and allergies. I have gotten to know several acupuncturists in the area and I refer to them when it’s an issue that doesn’t fit my style. The growth of my practice has not suffered. There are plenty of people to support your practice.”
3. Have passion for what you do
“Ask for help,” Gail says. “Most people want to help, especially if you ask for something specific. For example, I’ve asked patients to mention me to three people they talk to that day and give them my card. Your patients love you and love the work you’re doing. They want to help you be successful, but they may not know how.
Collect testimonials while you are in school and with every patient once you’re out. Ask your patient to take a moment before or after their treatment to write a few words about you, your clinic, and their experience working with you. I also keep a flip camera on hand and a waiver to record them and post it all over the internet. You can check them out at www.PainFreeDallas.com.”
She also highly recommends not being afraid of competition. “The more people there are talking about acupuncture, the more people will know about it,” Gail said. No matter where you live (even Austin or California), there are plenty of people to support your practice.”
But Gail’s most important recommendation is this: Enjoy every minute of it. “Most people don’t have the ability to transform lives. We get to do it every day. You have an amazing gift.”
Moving is no small feat - finding a place to live, packing up your belongings, recruiting helping hands, finding a friend with a truck, tying up the pieces at your old place and remembering all of the little details for getting settled in smoothly at a new home. It is no wonder that moving is often considered to be one of the most stressful events in life!
Austin is a rapidly growing city with much to offer new residents. Depending on how far you are moving (i.e. across town vs. across the country); the process of finding a place to live may be different. No matter where you are starting from, the following insights will help you stay organized as you navigate the Austin rental market.
What to Consider When Searching For a Place to Live:
Consider Your Exact Move-in Date
Knowing your move-in date will help you determine when you need to be ready to sign a lease. Some apartments only list their availability 30 days prior to a potential move-in date whereas others list availability 60 days prior. Privately owned houses, condos, and duplexes usually have openings based on 30 day notices, possibly even shorter times, and are generally looking for quick move-ins. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to start your housing search 45-60 days before your anticipated move date.
Before starting your search, it’s important to have an idea of what you are looking for. Most apartment communities in Austin offer one year leases. Some properties may offer nine and six month leases, however leases lasting less than six months can be very difficult to find. Many apartment communities charge an up-grade fee for leases shorter than one year, and such fees can be as high as an extra $150 per month. Privately owned properties like rental homes or duplexes almost always offer one year leases.
An alternative option for a shorter term lease is to sublet. Subletting a property can offer a temporary home-base while you explore Austin’s many neighborhoods and search for longer-term accommodations.
Rental Application Fees & Deposits
When you have found a place you like and you are ready to submit an application, it is important to keep in mind that there will be associated application fees and deposits required. Planning for these fees will help you create a realistic moving budget.
Application fees can range from $35 to $150 and will vary depending on location. These fees are applied to the cost of running criminal background and rental history checks for potential tenants.
A rental deposit is typically required to be paid to the property owner or management company. Deposit amounts are variable and can range from $200 to $1,000 per unit. Newer apartment communities that offer more amenities typically ask for higher rental deposits. Some apartment communities may include an “administrative fee” as part of the deposit that is frequently non-refundable and may be as much as half of the deposit. However, this type of fee is usually only found in larger, newer apartment communities. Owners of houses, duplexes, and condos often ask a new tenant to deposit the first and/or last month’s rent up front.
With many animal-loving residents in Austin, pet deposits are a very common feature of the rental market. Amounts and specific policies may vary depending on individual properties; though, a typical pet deposit will be around $300 - $500 for one pet. Half of this deposit is usually refundable while the other half is typically a non-refundable cleaning fee. Having more than one pet usually incurs additional deposit costs (often $250 per additional pet), and many communities limit the number of pets allowed to three. In some cases apartment communities may charge pet rent instead of a deposit. Pet rent is a monthly fee paid in addition to rent and can vary from $15 - $50 per month, per pet. If you have furry friends, it’s important to ask about a property’s pet policies before applying.
Before paying any deposit, it is important to verify with the leasing agent whether a deposit is refundable if the rental application is cancelled, withdrawn, or refused. Once an application is approved, the rental deposit is no longer refundable.
Qualifying Criteria for Rental Applications
When evaluating a rental application, apartment communities and property owners will consider/ verify the following:
- Applicants must be 18 years of age or older
- Previous rental history (broken leases, evictions, lack of rental history)
- Criminal background checks (any convictions, misdemeanors, felonies, etc.)
- Credit history (outstanding housing debts/payments, utility or rental payment history, etc.)
- Whether renter’s insurance is required (many properties require policies for $100,000 worth of rental insurance)
- Number of vehicles or pets owned (properties may limit the number of each allowed)
- Current income
When considering a potential tenant’s credit history and income, apartment communities typically expect to see that an applicant’s monthly income is approximately three times the amount of monthly rent. Combined income from roommates, financial aid received by students, and potential co-signors’ income are additional factors that may be considered. Most communities will allow co-signors for applicants that do not meet the earnings criteria. Co-signors are generally expected to own a home and earn five to six times the amount of the unit’s monthly rent. Depending on employment status, applicants may be required to present paystubs, income tax information, bank statements, or confirmation of financial aid eligibility to verify income.
Applicants with less than 6 months of rental history or a low credit-score may be required to have a co-signor on a lease or pay an additional rental deposit. Factors such as a history of broken leases, evictions, or a criminal background will generally result in co-signors being refused. While apartment communities always perform criminal background and rental history checks, not all private owners do so. New residents should discuss the qualifying rental criteria in detail with the apartment community or property owner during the application process.
Apartment rental rates are generated based on city-wide occupancy rates, meaning prices can fluctuate frequently. Rental prices will also vary based on the type of unit available (e.g. number of bedrooms, square footage, amenities, etc.) and exact location. In addition to checking rental prices for specific properties online, it is also advisable to contact a property directly to verify the current rate and to inquire about any move-in specials that may be offered. Cost of living calculators can help new residents moving from another city or state to estimate housing costs in Austin.
Getting Help with Your Housing Search
It’s always ideal to visit a potential house/apartment in person before making a commitment and signing a lease. Unfortunately, this is not always an option if you are moving from a different city or state. Recruiting the help of a leasing agent or apartment locator can help to narrow down your options and find a place that meets your criteria and standards for quality of life. Many apartment locating agents in Austin offer free services to clients looking for housing and it’s important to choose a locator that is responsive, professional, and respectful of your housing needs.
In addition to individual leases, alternative housing opportunities exist including roommate arrangements, house shares, and cooperative living. Check out our next blog post in the Moving to Austin series for more information on this topic!
Michelle Gonzalez is an Austin-based real estate agent and AOMA student. Prior to beginning her studies within AOMA’s master’s degree program in acupuncture & Chinese medicine, Michelle worked as a full-time licensed real estate agent at Team Real Estate. She has years of experience and expertise within Austin’s rental and home-buying markets.
As AOMA’s Admissions Coordinator, Jillian Kelble works one-on-one with new students to support their transition to graduate school and is the administrator of AOMA’s bi-weekly new student housing digest. In addition to her role within the Admissions Office, she has also worked as a property manager for a privately owned rental property in downtown Austin. A transplant from the west coast, Jillian brings personal insight about the process of relocating to her work.
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, 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.
In honor of The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, AOMA is partnering with East Communities YMCA
to offer FREE acupuncture for nicotine cessation.
NOVEMBER 21 & 22
Free, walk-in appointments
East Communities YMCA
in the portable building
5315 Ed Bluestein Blvd
Austin, TX 78723
Despite all the well-researched facts regarding the negative effects of smoking, people continue to smoke cigarettes because of the addictive nature of nicotine. Many smokers try various quitting methods with not much luck, struggling to find a solution that is sustainable, lasting and healthy. Acupuncture has been shown to have great success with treating the full range of addictions and addictive behavior, and has been proven to be especially useful and successful in helping people stop smoking[i].
Acupuncturists are trained to address addictions, especially nicotine addiction, following the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The addiction is analyzed from several perspectives, all of which include the full spectrum of physical, mental, and emotional addiction.
How Acupuncture Treats Smoking Cessation
Acupuncture works to adjust cravings by balancing the body's brain chemistry and also helps heal the physical damage the body undergoes from smoking. There are many recognized protocols to help people stop smoking.
Auricular acupuncture, or ear acupuncture as it is commonly known, is often used in the treatment of addictions. Protocols for nicotine addiction may use ear points alone or along with other body points [ii] to help balance a person's overall pattern. In this technique, fine needles are inserted into a set of five acupuncture points on the ear, as promoted by The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), a not-for-profit organization who teaches and endorses this acupuncture detoxification protocol.
For this protocol, the patient may even be sent home with small beads placed on the ear using adhesive tape. When stimulated, these small beads continue to help curb withdrawal symptoms (an application of auricular acupressure). In general, one can expect frequency of visits to be several times per week for the first week or two (recommendations vary per acupuncturist and patient’s condition).
Beating the Addiction Symptoms
The goal of the practitioner in the treatment plan is to support patients through the acute phase of withdrawal, improving their success at kicking the nicotine habit. Commonly, patients experience a decrease in cravings, changes in sensory perception as the taste and smell of cigarettes becomes intolerable, and an increased state of calm and relaxation.
The multiple withdrawal symptoms that one can experience when trying to quit are well-known, including but not limited to insomnia, fatigue, feeling jittery, cough, chest tightness, dry mouth, constipation, irritability, depression, anxiety, and lack of concentration. Acupuncturists routinely address these issues independently, and improvements in such symptoms are commonly experienced as side benefits by patients. In the scientific community, there has been a huge influx of insightful findings on acupuncture’s complex mechanism of action, offering explanation of why this ancient treatment works. Research supports acupuncture’s role in influencing the various aspects of the nervous system, thereby modulating things like your gastrointestinal system, heart rate, stress response, and mood.
In 2011, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a subsidiary of the US Department of Justice, in collaboration with the American University, evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture as an adjunct to substance abuse treatment. This initiative ensued as a result of many drug courts using acupuncture as an adjunct to the substance abuse treatments provided to drug court participants. In the BJA review of the literature, they determined a number of acupuncture studies demonstrated reduced cravings and symptoms of withdrawal when coupled with conventional treatment plans.
Helping You Quit - For good!
Here at AOMA, we take a vested interest in the life quality and health of our patients and community. That means we not only want to help provide affordable and sustainable care for those who are committed to quitting smoking, we also want to offer treatments for those who are simply curious to exactly how effective acupuncture can be in treating addiction!
Not only does AOMA host the Great American Smokeout every year in November, offering free treatments to those in the community wanting to stop smoking, we also have a special herbal remedy specially tailored to smoking cessation. This formula was masterminded by one of our renowned professors and doctors, Jamie Wu, LAc, MD (China), MS, Vice President of Faculty. The formula, called Clear Lung, Calm Shen formula, or Dr. Wu’s Stop Smoking Formula, is a specially formulated herbal remedy made of herbs that specialize in treating addiction, lung health, and the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of withdrawal. These herbs are powdered and encapsulated in our herbal dispensary (AOMA Herbal Medicine) and then sold through prescription from practitioners in our clinic.
There are multiple other herbal prescription formulas available at AOMA Herbal Medicine that are tailored to treat addictions based on your specific pattern, constitution, and individual needs and preferences. Come see us at the clinic for more information!
If you have never heard of the Great American Smokeout, check out the details below. Don’t miss this special yearly event -- get a start on your New Year’s resolution to give up the cigarettes early!
Free acupuncture for the annual Great American Smokeout!
In honor of The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout AOMA is partnering with East Communities YMCA to offer FREE acupuncture for nicotine cessation.
NOVEMBER 21 & 22
Free, walk-in appointments
East Communities YMCA
in the portable building
5315 Ed Bluestein Blvd
Austin, TX 78723
For more information, call 512-693-4373
[i] Starkey, J (LAc). Acupuncture Can Help You Kick the Habit. Retrieved online on November 3, 2013.
AOMA alumna Sadie Minkoff was a modern dancer in a company based in New York City when she injured her sacrum in a rehearsal. Minkoff says, “I was studying Eastern philosophy and Shiatsu and was petrified of needles so I was hesitant to try acupuncture until I got injured.” Minkoff finally mustered the courage to travel to New York’s Chinatown to try out acupuncture.
Most “needle phobic” patients are generally surprised to find out that acupuncture needles are a thin metal filament about the width of a human hair and cannot deliver the same kind of impact as a needle used for a flu or tetanus shot. Minkoff, being terrified of needles, was no different. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the sensations from the needles were minimal and the treatment itself was very enjoyable and effective. Minkoff says, “The injury resolved quickly but what was even more exciting to me was how good I felt after my acupuncture treatments. So I continued getting acupuncture and started learning about Chinese Medicine.”
Eventually Minkoff found herself at AOMA studying acupuncture. Her journey as a practitioner has taken her many places including an interdisciplinary clinic in Washington, DC and a western medical clinic in Austin. She has also worked in a couple of integrative settings with IUI and IVF patients. In 2012 Minkoff received hospital privileges when a local doctor invited her to do acupuncture during fertility treatments in the hospital where he worked.
Currently, Minkoff owns a private practice with her partner Michelle Schreiber in Austin. Sage Acupuncture focuses on both fertility and oncology. Minkoff reflects, “We have created a beautiful sanctuary where people can feel comfortable and supported in their healing process.” As Minkoff’s clientele grows she holds the intention to continue to work from her heart and serve her community.
Since Minkoff has been in the acupuncture field she has learned that listening and compassion promote success in her practice. She has also learned that no matter how many tools she has to share with her patients she does not heal the patient, the patient heals herself. This philosophy has kept patients coming back to her years after they get pregnant and have their children.