Students are the heart of any academic institution and AOMA’s students in particular are passionate, motivated, intelligent, and caring individuals. AOMA offers a wide and diverse range of student services, including brown bag seminars, a China study trip, individualized career counseling, and more. All of our services are designed with the intention of supporting students on the personal and professional healing journeys they experience in acupuncture school.
Brown Bag Seminars
Studying Traditional Chinese Medicine is a deep, lifelong learning experience with a myriad of topics to be explored. Brown Bag seminars give students the opportunity to enrich their practices with free one-hour lunchtime lectures and demonstrations. Topics range from practice management tips to Five Element acupuncture to herbal quality discernment, and more.
Brown bag seminars are hosted by alumni, outside experts, current students, and staff. All brown bags are free and open to the public. They are held throughout each term on campus from 12:45-1:45 pm. View the summer schedule and see examples of past brown bags here.
Joining an extracurricular student organization is a great way to learn new skills, share your knowledge, practice leadership, and meet other students while in acupuncture school. AOMA is home to a number of student-run organizations, including the AOMA Student Association, Ju Jutsu Club, Qigong Group, AOMA Herbs Club, Research Club, and the Chinese Culture Club.
Students are welcome and encouraged to start new clubs at any time. To learn more about AOMA’s student clubs and their events visit the Student Organizations site.
China Study Tour
AOMA offers a biennial China Study Tour in collaboration with Chengdu University of Traditional Oriental Medicine in Chengdu, China. The China Study Tour combines cultural, educational, clinical, and recreational activities to provide students an enriching, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Specific details of the China Study Tour change year to year. In the past, students who participated began their trip with a sightseeing trip to Beijing before flying to Chengdu, the capital and cultural center of Sichuan Province. At Chengdu University, students had the opportunity to study herbs and gained valuable hands-on clinical experience at the university, working in treatment centers under supervising professors.
The 2013 trip concluded with study at Emei Mountain, the highest of the four sacred Buddhist mountains. There, students practiced tai chi, qigong, and meditation. Students also had the option of extending their tour an extra week to visit Tibet.
Studying medicine in China is an unforgettable, life-changing experience for those who are able to participate in the trip, and one that AOMA is proud to offer. The next AOMA China Study Tour will take place in the spring of 2015.
Starting an acupuncture practice or securing a job after graduation is a top priority for students and for the Student and Career Services Department here at AOMA. In order to assist students and alumni in their work after school, AOMA provides a number of career resources.
Each week AOMA receives job opportunities from practitioners across the country hoping to grow their practices. Student Services also searches the web for relevant employment postings and shares these opportunities on the website and on the LinkedIn group for students and alumni. Last year, AOMA shared more than 600 job opportunities on LinkedIn!
Having trouble building a resume? AOMA offers a Resume Builder—a free online tool to assist students in creating a professional resume. The Resume Builder provides tips, templates, and helpful suggestions to make the resume writing process as smooth as possible. AOMA also offers free individual career counseling to help students and alumni apply for jobs, receive feedback on their resumes, and clarify their personal and professional goals.
More Career Resources.
Austin is consistently ranked in the list of top cities to live in the US so it’s no wonder that more and more students are moving here to attend AOMA. Student Services is able to help students with their search for housing. We maintain a housing opportunities website as well as a Student Housing Forum on LinkedIn. Long-term housing, short-term opportunities, and roommate requests are posted regularly. Students in need of housing support should visit our LinkedIn group and join the Student Housing Forum.
AOMA is happy to offer additional support to students when life presents challenges that interfere with student success. Julie Aziz, LCSW, Director of Student and Career Services, meets with students individu
ally to help them develop the support system they need, and to create a clear, intentional plan for personal and professional growth. To set up a meeting with Julie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
For students in need of counseling, AOMA is partnered with Sol Community Counseling in Austin. Students are able to take advantage of reduced-rate counseling services, including individual and couples sessions. Rates are currently $20 per session for individuals and $30 per session for couples. To learn more about Sol’s offerings, call Sol Community Counseling at (512) 366-0954.
We’re lucky to work with such a great student body here at AOMA and we’re always happy to hear from prospective students, students, and alumni. If you have any questions, comments, or would like to host a brown bag seminar contact Student and Career Services Director Julie Aziz.
I did it. I spent four and a half years in Chinese medical school. I packed the contents of a ton classes, more than a thousand hours of clinics, about a hundred books, and uncountable hours of study into my brain. And when all was said and done I found I had learned far more than the facts I plugged into my head. Acupuncture school isn’t so much of a school where you learn skills as it is a hero’s journey right out of the mind of Joseph Campbell. What follows are a few things I gathered that are even more valuable and longer-lasting than the Master’s degree I earned.
“Be here. You get one absence free. The 2nd one will cost you a full grade letter off the final grade. The 3rd one costs you 2 full letter grades. That would be bad. You’ll probably fail.” -Dr. Xiaotian Shen, Point Locations 1
“Be present” is a phrase that gets a lot of press in some circles. I suspect we all have some concept of what it means to be present, but being aware of the concept and actually being able to do it are two very different things. Our minds are in a constant state of living in either the past or the future.
Engaging in too much preoccupation with the past or excessive worry about the future means that we miss this moment that we are physically in. And this moment is all that there truly is. Only this moment is real. How much do we miss by not experiencing it? What amazing richness walked right past us while we were texting, worrying, fretting, or just daydreaming?
Living in this moment, paying attention to all that is and doing it purposefully can bring incredible peace and insight. Setting an intention to be conscious of this moment and to fully inhabit it also has amazing implications for healers. Truly hearing and being present when your client walks into your office is a tremendous gift that not many of us receive. Who among us doesn’t want to be truly seen and heard?
Setting time aside in your life to be quiet and present with your own mind gives you the calm center and peaceful soul you need to also offer this gift to another being.
Strive for Understanding.
“Seek first to understand.” -Dr. Xiaotian Shen, Point Locations 1
I won’t lie to you: when Dr. Shen uttered this in my first acupuncture point locations class I knew it was profound, but I didn’t have the life skills to know this on a deep level. The majority of time I was in school I was driven to make A’s; anything less than perfection was unacceptable. But somehow during my quest for A’s I also knew that the concepts my amazing professors were offering to me also contained wisdom worth a thousand gold pieces and transcended the memorization of facts.
This is true of all of life. Wisdom begins when you realize that the surface facts you have been memorizing have a whole lot of depth and truth underneath them. When you understand the deeper structures you can tell which bits are important, you can see how and why the individual components fit together, and you can use the information you have memorized to draw new conclusions. Your actions become purposeful, efficient, and confident.
This takes time, patience, and the perseverance to build your foundational knowledge. It also takes the discipline to bypass the shiny fun tidbits (for now) in favor of making sure you are on solid ground.
“All C’s spells Doc.” -Dr. Will Morris
I touched briefly on what I like to call The Tyranny of A’s in another point in this missive from my heart to yours. I thought I had defeated this devil, but when I started acupuncture school, there he was, sitting on my shoulder, screaming, “Not good enough!!” even when I got a low A. I drove myself mercilessly in school, which in turn caused a decline in my health and drove a wedge into my personal relationships.
It took a long time before I realized I was trying to please this unpleased-able demon that was actually my own internal critic telling me I had to be perfect and personable. I wanted my colleagues to see how brilliant I was so that they would acknowledge that I had worth and relevance. Deep down inside where I kept it good and hidden I didn’t believe I had worth or relevance and wasn’t worthy of being loved unless I was perfect.
Let me say this clearly: you matter, you have worth, you are worthy of love regardless of the grades you make, regardless of the clothes you wear, regardless of who and what you are. You deserve to love yourself fully and to feel confident about your ability and right to be on this planet. You are here for a reason.
When you can drop the baggage of living for the approval of others and approach your relationship to yourself as your primary relationship you can accomplish anything. And you’ll be doing it from your heart not from some perceived need to fit into someone else’s version of you. That’s when the grades and the outcomes stop mattering.
And this is a very good place to get to because I guarantee you that the world will not celebrate your triumphs. Never is this clearer than when you pass that first (or last!) board exam and there is no one cheering except you when you do. This is a lonely medicine in many ways. I guarantee you that no one, not even your significant other or parents, understands how difficult Chinese medical school is unless they’ve been through it.
“Yin and yang can also represent two related aspects of one thing…Yin and yang properties are relative, not absolute, and can be changed.” - Dr. Qianzhi Wu, Foundations of Chinese Medicine
We live in a time that is characterized by wars of various kinds – the war on terror, the war on drugs, the wars in the Middle East, and the war on women just to list a few. War might have once been a struggle for the physical survival but now it seems that most armed conflicts are a struggle for the supremacy of beliefs. This is often true not just on a global scale, but on an interpersonal scale as well.
The thing is, ideas and beliefs are largely a product of perspective. I used to work in technical support at a company whose name rhymes with “hell.” When I worked in tech support all I heard were problems and complaints. After a while I started wondering why I was working at this crappy company which produced this crappy product. This attitude evaporated about a year after I left the company and started working in the corporate world. These “hell” computers turned out to be pretty darned bullet proof on the whole, demonstrating incredible resilience, even when handled with flagrant disregard by co-workers who treated them an awful lot like the gorilla in the commercial treats Samsonite luggage. They quickly became my go-to computer of choice.
What changed? The computers? The design? No. Same design, same manufacturers, same company. The only thing that changed was my perspective. Human beings spend their lives looking through a tiny keyhole in life and form a whole life philosophy from this extremely partial view. That’s where our limited (and limiting) beliefs come from.
If you want to change your world, change your perspective. Try to look at a different view of your challenges and you will find that those challenges change. All you have to do is change your mind.
“The course of our everyday lives requires that we balance the interior process of nurturing the self (Yin) with being engaged in the exterior work of the world (Yang)."
“Wang Dao. This is the way to treat the patient without resulting in harm. Take the body as a whole rather than focusing on the problem and forgetting about the whole person. When you write a formula, always think of Wang Dao.”
“Yin Yang philosophy should be in all formulas. This gives the formula structure.” -Dr. Ma, Formulas 1
Acupuncture school seems to take every brain cell you have. School can become this huge thing that blocks your view of the rest of your world, even though it is only a small portion of your total life on this planet. We all know that if you ignore a plant, it will wither and eventually die of neglect. You can think of school as the big Yang portion of your life – it’s bigger than life, takes an awful lot of energy, and will float away and out of control unless you are careful.
Watch your relationships with yourself, your family, and your friends. There’s no quick and easy way to do this. You just have to remind yourself to pay attention. This is part of walking in balance, even if it means you have to do it deliberately.
“When there is qi, there is life. When there is no qi, there is no life.”
“As one experiences the opening of the heart, this allows the qi from the universe to go to the entire body, removing the negativities that rob one of a life of perfect well-being.” – Master Li Jun Feng
When you sit down on an airplane and it finally takes off the staff stands up and starts giving their show about how to buckle your seatbelt and how to use your seat cushion as a floatation device. During the spiel the announcer says that in the unlikely event of loss of cabin pressure masks will fall down from the ceiling. In this rhetoric is an instruction to put your own mask on first if you are traveling with someone who is dependent on you for his or her physical well-being. For a long time this seemed to me like the height of selfishness. At some point I realized that this is not selfish, but vital. If you are incapacitated you cannot care for those who depend on you.
The same is true for those of us who have chosen to be healers and care givers. If you cannot care for yourself, you cannot care for your patients either. It is a great irony that the demands of going to school to become a healer can really break down your own health. Though it can be difficult to be consistent about caring for yourself while you are in school it is one of the most vital things you can do for yourself as a healer and as a human being.
Open your heart. Let the qi flow in. Care for yourself. Thrive.
Follow Your Own Path
“Each channel has its’ own regular pathway, which includes an internal and an external course.” - Navigating the Channels of Traditional Chinese Medicine
When I squared my shoulders, took that deep breath and committed to the path of Chinese medicine I thought I was just making a career change. I’m still laughing over that one! That was my external path. I did not know at the time that there was an internal pathway as well. As it turns out, the internal path fuels the external. Without the internal path my acupuncture practice is just a hollow shell, a façade.
The internal path I’m talking about ties back into living from the love I feel for myself, the compassion for others that spills out of a heart full of love, and the connection with and guidance I feel from the Universe. I think all of us are here for a reason, to work our way through this life outfitted with those three components. This is your journey and the journey is the whole point of being.
A word of warning: the road may not go where you think it’s going to when you begin the next leg of your journey! Plan all you want to, but don’t get too attached to the plan or the outcome. The important thing is to follow your intuition, your path through this life.
About the author: As the owner of Calhoun Acupuncture & Wellness in Austin, TX, Catherine Calhoun maintains an active clinical practice treating patients with conditions such as pain, allergies & respiratory infections, and substance addiction, as well as chronic disorders like arthritis, diabetes, neurological disorders, endocrine disorders, and cardio/circulatory disorders. A certified Usui Reiki practitioner and trainer, she also specializes in relaxation and meditation therapies such as reiki, medical qigong, and guided meditation. Ms. Calhoun is committed to implementing affordable healthcare options using oriental medicine and manages an on-site corporate wellness practice in addition to her private clinical practice. She is the owner and creator of CatsTCMNotes.com and has instructed at AOMA since 2012.
Each month we will be featuring fun information about a faculty and/or staff member to introduce the wonderful community of people behind AOMA's graduate program!
This week, we'll introduce you to Nicole Rivera, Financial Services Administrator, who works with applicants and current students to answer their questions about financial aid.
Where are you from?
"I'm a native of Austin!"
List 3 hobbies/ activities you enjoy:
"Having fun with my kids- we do a LOT! I also like to watch documentaries and to go hiking."
What's the best thing about working at AOMA?
"All of the interesting people with very different backgrounds we get to meet."
What's your favorite/ most memorable 'AOMA moment'?
"The BIG move!"
What's your favorite thing about Austin?
"All of the really wacky festivals that happen each year!"
To learn more about AOMA's financial aid office, please explore our website at www.aoma.edu/financial-aid/.
Remember to check-back soon to meet someone new!
Insomnia is often not used to refer to a disease or condition, but rather a symptom of several sleep disorders. According to Western medicine, there are two types of insomnia, primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is not directly related to any other health problems whereas secondary insomnia is difficulty sleeping due to another issue such as asthma, pain, arthritis, cancer, depression or due to a side effect of a medication.
Common symptoms associated with insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking too early in the morning and feeling tired upon waking. Insomnia is also categorized based on the duration of the symptoms.
Episodes of insomnia may occur naturally from time to time, but when the condition continues for some time it can become pathological and sets off a whole cascade of events. Acute insomnia is short term and may last for a few nights to several weeks. Chronic insomnia is defined as having symptoms at least three nights per week for one month.
How Is Insomnia Treated with Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
Chinese medicine and acupuncture have been used to treat insomnia for thousands of years. TCM recognizes the proper flow of Qi of the body to be influential in healthy sleep. We look at the underlying issues causing sleep disturbances such as pain, stress and anxiety or night sweats and work to eliminate these issues.
An ancient Chinese physician, Zhang Jing-Yue, wrote: “Sleep is yin and ruled by the spirit. If the spirit is quiet there will be sleep. If the spirit is not quiet there is no sleep.” TCM theory begins with the theory of yin yang. Most basically, Yang is associated with day, activity and wakeful hours. Yin is associated with night, stillness and sleep. The spirit, or ‘Shen’ in Chinese, is a combination of the heart and mind; the two are inseparable in Chinese medicine.
Insomnia, often associated with disturbances of the psyche, will affect the state of the heart. The spirit is quiet when anchored by the yin. When the yin is deficient, or the yang energy overactive, the spirit has nowhere to rest. Yin is the energy responsible for night time and sleep and if our bodies are depleted in yin energy we experience insomnia, often with night sweats and a host of other symptoms. With the TCM treatment of insomnia, there is also a strong focus on the health of the kidneys and the balance of the fluids of the body.
Practitioners of Chinese Medicine treat insomnia by taking into consideration your overall balance of mind, body, and spirit. The condition may be treated using acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet and lifestyle changes, and relaxation techniques. Treatment will be highly individualized and will depend on the underlying cause of the insomnia, which will be differentiated by your practitioner. A proper diagnosis is key to successfully treating insomnia, which may be caused by a number of factors including physical strain, mental and emotional stress, or improper diet. All these things must be examined in the patient’s life and adjusted to increase their state of balance. This will be different for each person and tailored to fit their specific needs. Patients with insomnia often have deeply relaxing treatments and fall asleep during their sessions.
Western science has recognized acupuncture's effects on insomnia and attributes it to the natural release of melatonin and dopamine with acupuncture. Read an article about curing insomnia with acupuncture here: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-cure-insomnia-with-acupuncture/.
If you are suffering from insomnia you can start by working to eliminate stress and worry from your life. Acupuncture can help you begin to do this by identifying factors that trigger these emotions and take steps to reduce these triggers. Chinese medicine practitioners can also help you manage and reduce your emotional stress and reduce your dependence on sleeping pills or stimulants like smoking, alcohol, coffee or tea, all of which can affect your sleeping patterns. A bit of physical activity each day will help further reduce stress and regulate the flow of blood throughout the body. Practices such as taiji, qigong, and meditation can also help to calm the mind.
For a complete consultation, individual diagnosis and treatment for insomnia, visit our request an appointment page to schedule with a licensed practitioner.
I was groomed from a young age to love watermelon. Growing up in Florida, almost every week in the summer my father would stop at a roadside stand and carefully select one of the heavy, green melons. There would be thumping, weighing and sniffing and finally he would select his prize. When we got home, he’d cut off the watermelon in large rounds, place it on a plate and eat it with a spoon--leaving behind just an empty, cylindrical rind and seeds floating in sweet juice. He would always cut me off a piece too and I’d enjoy this summertime ritual with my dad.
It wasn’t until I became a practitioner of Chinese medicine that I learned watermelon was way more than a sweet summer treat. It is actually a useful medicinal food in the summer, especially for those of us that live in very hot climates.
In Chinese medicine, foods and herbs have energetic properties that have specific healing capacities. Watermelon is described in Chinese medicine as affecting the heart, bladder and stomach. It clears heat and is cold in nature. As we all know, it is full of delicious juice, which nourishes the fluids of the body while helping to promote urination. This is a very effective strategy to help clear that summer heat from the body! In Chinese medicine it is said that heat can cause constipation, and watermelon is a wonderful antidote for this common ailment as well. Perhaps best yet, watermelon has a calming effect on the spirit and helps to ease frustration, restlessness and worry. So if rising mercury is making you irritable—make sure to cut yourself off a juicy slice!
Waste not, want not: the seeds of the watermelon can also be used as medicine as well. Dried seeds can be boiled in water and consumed as a tea. The seeds are said to help the kidneys in Chinese medicine—helping to promote urination and also acting a vasodilator to lower high blood pressure.
Those who have a weak digestive system should enjoy watermelon sparingly. In Chinese medicine it is understood that cold foods and raw fruits and vegetables are hard on the digestive tract. Because of this, if you have gas and bloating, eat watermelon in moderation. You could also visit an acupuncturist in your area to help you improve your digestion-either using acupuncture, herbal medicine, or both.
From a western nutritional perspective, watermelon is high in carotenoids such as lycopene and antioxidants such as vitamin A and C. It is also high in electrolytes, which is why it is so good for helping us stay hydrated.
East or West—any way you look at it, watermelon is a healthy and delicious summer food. Watermelon is tasty enough on it’s own, but also check out the recipe below for another “cool” way to enjoy this yummy fruit.
Recipe—Cooling Watermelon, Tomato & Basil Salad
2 cups ripe tomato, cubed
2 cups watermelon, cubed
¼ cups pine nuts
1 Tbl. fresh mint, minced
1 Tbl. fresh basil, minced
Pinch of sea salt
1. Place all ingredients, except for salt, in a bowl and toss together until combined.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the top and stir again. Chill, then enjoy!
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
The Tao of Healthy Eating by Bob Flaws
The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan
About the author:
Kendra Lay, AP, LAc, ACN is a graduate of AOMA practicing in Florida. She specializes in combining Chinese medicine with modern nutrition. Visit her website at www.KendraLay.com
Cat Calhoun is the first in her family to go to college and the only one thus far to receive a master’s degree. Before she came to AOMA she was a Senior Network Administrator for the city of Austin. Cat was involved in several car wrecks that damaged her neck. She found an acupuncturist who not only fixed her neck, but also cured her recurrent tension headaches. When her job shifted to more desk work and less face-to-face interactions with clients she decided to do some soul-searching and change careers. She researched and visited many acupuncture schools and found that AOMA was one of the best schools in the country. She says “we have some truly world class professors, both in knowledge and spirit. They are the power and the gems of the school.”
While in school Cat became known for her giving, communal spirit that is always ready to offer encouragement to her fellow students. She became famous at AOMA for her donation based website called CatsTCMnotes.com. The website started when a fellow classmate missed a couple of classes and asked Cat to take notes for her. Her notes were so detailed that other classmates wanted copies. She decided to put them on the web to share them with anyone who wanted another perspective on the information presented in class at AOMA. This website is now being viewed by people from all around the world. Cat says, “I’ve gotten appreciation e-mails from TCM practitioners and students in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Thailand, and most recently from Israel.” She has done a fantastic job organizing complex ideas and putting them into accessible charts for current students to study.
Cat graduated from AOMA in Summer 2011 and is already well on the way to becoming a successful business owner and practitioner. Although she has done most of the “normal” things graduates do once they leave school to become business owners, her philosophy is starkly different than most. Cat’s approach to building her patient base starts with building community. She is drawn to “communal style acupuncture” and has always been open and willing to help anyone who crosses her path. Her first piece of advice to new graduates is to remember “there are going to be rough spots you will hit and you will live through them. Get serious about a meditative practice like yoga, tai chi, qigong, transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation. You’re going to need it!”
Cat has continued this philosophy of building community by moving her practice into her own zip code. She thinks “our culture suffers from lack of ‘neighborhood’ and connection. I want to work in my own community, helping people to find healing and connection.” In the next five to ten years Cat desires to start a residency program for students that are newly graduated. “I want to build a clinic with a ‘neighborhood’ of acupuncture specialists in different fields who are willing to take on a new graduate protégé, teach them our business model and help them get on their acupuncture feet before we send them out into the world.” She currently gives students discounted acupuncture rates to both keep them in her life and share what she has learned with them on her path. She is also currently offering Reiki and herbs to treat a variety of health concerns, but focuses on insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, gynecological, hormonal imbalances, and pain relief. She says, “I want to make acupuncture as accessible to as many people as possible while still giving a quality treatment in a safe private space.” Visit Cat's website.