AOMA Blog

Sarah Bentley

Recent Posts

Pamela Ferguson on Compassionate Palliative Care

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 @ 12:23 PM

 

Why do so many of our colleagues shy away from palliative care? A few years ago, when I stood up at our Southwest Symposium to give a thumbnail sketch prior to my afternoon workshop in palliative care, two thirds of the delegates rose and left the conference hall. I kid you not. “Wow,” I said, “This can’t be because I’m wearing the wrong deodorant, surely!”

The dozen or so who attended my workshop later were all accomplished Licensed Acupuncturists who were also Asian Bodywork Therapists or Massage Therapists. Therein lies the key. Those of us with bodywork skills aren’t afraid to work with clients who are terminally ill. In fact, it’s a gift – an honor. Especially if you have the chance to work on a long-term client through their final few months or weeks. The experience can be profound, which is why it’s great that AOMA offers offsite clinics in hospice care!

On a practical level, pain control is crucial. This can often mean stepping outside standard protocols and working patiently with the client to see which combination of acupoints eases both physical and emotional pain. It’s helpful to focus on the client’s hands and feet, especially in a hospital or hospice setting. Having a skilled, compassionate, and mindful touch with a minimum of points is essential. It may not always be wise or possible to use needles. I often teach family members of clients some simple acupressure work for those long hours when they sit beside a terminally ill loved one, feeling helpless or staring at some noisy game on TV. Sometimes a practitioner provides a calming center or focus in the room (at home or in hospital) when family members of the client fall apart – or – start heated arguments. I’ve seen all shades of behavior. Qi work is paramount. Not only to keep the practitioner centered and focused, but to maintain a calming atmosphere around the client. It’s equally important to remind family members that the sense of hearing is the last to go, and to never assume that a loved one can’t hear even while appearing unresponsive or in a coma.

 

For more info – see Pam’s column “Compassionate ABT for Palliative Care” in Acupuncture Today of February 2014 (15,2).

Pam will teach a Palliative Care workshop on April 18, 2015 at AOMA for PDA points and LMT CEUs. Find out more at https://aoma.edu/calendar/event/2673/, and register at http://store.aoma.edu/product/cc-palliative-15.html.

pam_matte_300_350Pam Ferguson Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA® – CI, LMT (TX) teaches advanced classes in Asian Bodywork Therapy, mainly in Europe. She is AOMA’s Asian Bodywork Therapy Dean Emerita.

Topics: asian bodywork therapy, palliative care

New Book by AOMA Staff, Julia Aziz, LCSW

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 @ 09:55 AM

Author_PhotoWe’d like to introduce you to the new book Lessons of Labor: One Woman’s Self-Discovery Through Birth & Motherhood by Julia Aziz, LCSW, Director of Student and Career Services at AOMA. Julia has worked at AOMA since 2012, supporting students through and after their time in school. Before AOMA, she worked as a counselor and hospice chaplain, and she has continued to lead private workshops and classes on rediscovering purpose and the self. Her new book is about the emotional and spiritual challenges of birthing and parenting, looking at the transition into motherhood as an opportunity for personal growth. You are all invited to her book release party at BookPeople on Thursday, February 26 at 7pm!

Lessons_of_Labor_Front_Cover-1About the book:

What if instead of trying to avoid the pain and uncertainty of labor, we asked what we could learn from it? In telling the intimate birth stories of her three children and miscarriage, Julia shows us how giving birth can be one of motherhood's (and life's) greatest teachers. Rather than giving advice on how to labor or how to parent, this book consistently offers the message that a woman can grow through the challenges that life presents her and learn to trust herself. For women who share a tendency for "getting it right," this honest and unguarded memoir is a reminder that the pretense of control is no match for the freedom of letting go.

Lessons of Labor is available now at BookPeople, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Congratulations, Julia! AOMA is very proud of  you.

BP

The Artemis Art Group for Women Veterans and AOMA's Connection

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

For years AOMA has raised awareness regarding the complex and subtle medical needs of our returning military veterans, many of whom are regular clients of the professional and student clinics. Some veterans (including military RNs, PTs, and Medics) expand their medical training at AOMA and now rank among the great list of alums and current students.

But there are limited creative opportunities for returning vets, especially women vets, in Austin. The ARTEMIS ART & PEER GROUP for women military veterans and those in active service was co-created by AOMA graduate Kim Layne LAc, AOBTA-CP, Director of Integrative Medicine at the Samaritan Center; Pam Ferguson, Dipl ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA-CI, AOMA’s ABT Dean Emerita; and Annie McMillin, decorated Army vet and artist. Annie chose the name after the free-spirited Greek goddess of hunting, strength, and health.

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The Artemis theme – From Combat to Art – provides a friendly, supportive setting for women vets who are accomplished artists, along with those who are just exploring their creativity in oils, watercolors, mixed media, and crafts. The first group exhibit was held recently in the art gallery at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Grover Lane at 49th Street, where the group met twice monthly during 2014 in an airy classroom space overlooking a garden. The eclectic mix of exhibits included Zentangle black-and-white drawings; aprons made of recycled materials; painted skulls to honor roadkill; jazz artworks in oil; and collages of art, photography, and verse. The exhibit was a huge success. Visitors were in awe of art by veterans ranging in age from 30 to 90 in all branches of the military (from WW2 to the present day). Folks stopped in their tracks to read ad hoc comments from the meetings, pinned between the artworks. Most reflected problems that veterans experienced adjusting to civilian life after deployment, especially around non-military family and friends. Quips included: “I was there for Them. Not for Myself,” and “I lost the normal range of emotions,” and “Civilians don’t understand.”

Upcoming 2015 exhibitions are planned at the Samaritan Center in May for Armed Services Day, and in October at the George Washington Carver Museum. Some members of the group are clients of Kim’s and Pam’s. Ongoing meetings will be held at the Samaritan Center, an appropriate shift as the center takes a comprehensive treatment approach and is home to the Hope for Heroes program, offering military veterans alternative integrative care on a sliding scale.

Some Artemists have experienced various layers of PTSD following combat and/or sexual abuse by military colleagues. But the Artemis purpose is not to be a “therapy group.” Annie McMillin describes it as empowerment through “non-therapy therapy.” That’s its charm. No one is under a spotlight. Artemis is just an informal gathering over coffee, muffins, and fruit, where participants talk freely and openly about their experiences while exploring different art forms. Accomplished artists generously share their technical expertise with those who haven’t touched a sketchbook since childhood.

All women military vets and those in active service are welcome. Yes, it’s free, but everyone chips in for refreshments! The next meeting is Saturday, February 21, 11 am-1 pm. Contact Kim at [email protected] or Pam at [email protected]

Pam’s regular ABT column in Acupuncture Today will feature the Artemis Group in May.

Topics: veteran affairs, AOMA community collaborations

Type 3 Diabetes: Sugar-induced Alzheimer’s?

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 10:50 AM

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Why a poor diet may be contributing to a rise in age-related cognitive problems

We often use the way our body looks as the barometer for health, but what if it was your brain that was suffering the consequences of our sugar addiction? New research suggests that Alzheimer's disease is intrinsically linked to insulin resistance of the brain and may be, in the most simplified terms, diabetes of the brain or Type 3 diabetes.

Millions of Americans with insulin resistance problems like Type 2 diabetes are being ravaged by health concerns, including heart disease, which is still the number-one cause of death in the United States, as well as a host of other maladies like eye problems, kidney disease, and neuropathy, to name a few.

Most of us are familiar to some degree with diabetes, but at times it can be confusing. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin and is something one is born with. Type 2 diabetes is acquired and used to be labeled “adult onset” until we saw the spike in childhood cases in recent years. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a breakdown of the body’s insulin receptors and is typically associated with over-consumption of processed carbohydrates and sugar. So what’s Type 3 diabetes? It appears to be an insulin resistance of the brain, causing memory problems and personality changes; in essence, Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease, discovered more than a century ago, is characterized by amyloid plaques building up in the brain, contributing to cognitive problems such as memory loss and personality changes. For as much as is known, it’s still a largely mysterious disease.

In 2005, a neuropathologist from Brown University, Suzanne de la Monte, published her research proposing that for those with Alzheimer's the brain has become insulin resistant and essentially the brain cells are starving to death. This appears to be especially true in the parts of the brain that have to do with memory and personality.

So what does this mean in Traditional Chinese Medicine? A few of AOMA’s most knowledgeable teachers and supervisors weighed in on the issue.

Dr. "Nelson" Song Luo explained some aspects to consider:

“In TCM, insulin resistance is related to stagnation of the Liver qi that begins to over-control the Spleen. Because of this, the Spleen either cannot generate blood, causing poor memory, or phlegm will accumulate which disturbs the memory. We call this phlegm ‘misting the mind.’ Memory issues are the primary early manifestation in Alzheimer’s disease.”

When exploring this further, AOMA’s Dr. Yongxin Fan brought up that in TCM, the brain is called the Sea of Marrow and is controlled by the energetics of the Kidney. If there is chronic Spleen and Kidney qi deficiency, which is what we will often see in Type 2 diabetes, it stands to reason that the Sea of Marrow, the brain, would be impacted by this.

Dr. Qianzhi “Jamie” Wu added that Type 3 diabetes likely involves the energetics of the Heart, Kidney, and Spleen, and is a complex condition involving both excesses and deficiencies in the body.

“We know that memory is supported by blood and essence. Poor memory could be a result of Heart blood and Kidney essence deficiency. To be more specific, the short-term memory is supported by Heart blood, while the remote memory by Kidney essence.”

Wu also suggests that the excess would be seen from phlegm misting the mind, leading to symptoms of forgetfulness and personality change. All of this leads back to the Spleen “as the source of blood, source of phlegm, and the postnatal root of essence.”

Wu notes that some TCM experts believe that what we call the Spleen in Chinese medicine is very similar to the pancreas in biomedicine. “Therefore, the TCM treatment should also focus on these three organs, but the Spleen could be the most important one among these three.”

Additionally, sugar in all its forms—white starches to straight off the cane—can cause dampness and damp retention in the body. Dampness is a result of poor diet and digestion when the energetics of the Spleen is not functioning properly. It’s that heavy feeling you may know so well. Slow to get moving until you mainline a pot of coffee. It can affect the body and the thought process, so theoretically the dampness could accumulate in the brain in a more permanent way with years of neglect. Dampness transforming into invisible phlegm which causes those cognitive changes.

There are myriad reasons to moderate our consumption of processed foods, and this is just another in a long list. For now, listen to your body and talk with your healthcare team, including your acupuncturist, if you have concerns about poor memory, lack of mental clarity, and insulin resistance.

acupuncture appointments in Austin

About the author:

lauren_st_pierre_acupunctureLauren St. Pierre-Mehrens, MAcOM, L.Ac

A recent graduate of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Lauren is in the process of setting up her practice, earthspring | acupuncture.

Lauren has begun working with the Texas Center for Reproductive Acupuncture to support their staff, and she continues to work with The American Cancer Society as a cancer information specialist.  

She has lived in Austin since 2006 by way of Lake Tahoe, California, and counts Austin as her home with her husband and two Boston terriers.

Topics: Dr. Yongxin Fan, Dr. Qianzhi Wu, Dr. Song Luo, alzheimer's

Winter Recipes for Optimal Health according to Chinese Medicine Nutrition

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 10:22 AM

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With the gluttony of Thanksgiving behind us and a just few weeks until the next-biggest eating holidays of the year, maybe it is time to give your body what it is yearning for: nourishment. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) nutrition principles, during the winter months our energy begins to move inward. It is a time of quietude and the best season to tonify and store essence internally. We asked two of our esteemed faculty members to share their favorite recipes for the season. We hope you enjoy!

Winter Tonic Oxtail Soup

Dr. Violet Song recommends this Winter Tonic Oxtail Soup. It is warm in nature and is a great kidney yang tonic. It’s a superb dish for the winter season! Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls for “Winter Daikon, Summer Ginger.” Winter cold can bring the coagulation of qi flow in the human body. The oxtail can be so much of a tonic that it can be too greasy, but the daikon can move qi and offset this consistency. The soup can be served 1-2 times per week all through the winter.

tcm nutrition daikon

Ingredients:
1 lb oxtail
1 tbsp cooking wine
Water
1 lb daikon radish
Carrots, greens (optional)
Salt
Cilantro as garnish (optional)

Instructions:
1.    Chop the oxtail into 1-inch cubes.
2.    Put the oxtail cubes into pan with 1 tbsp of cooking wine and 1 cup of water. Boil for 5 minutes.
3.    Strain the liquid and use warm water to wash the oxtail cubes.
4.    Put the washed oxtail cubes in a crock pot with plenty of water (more water, more soup) and stew for 3 hours.
5.    Cut the daikon radish into 1-inch cubes. Add the daikon radish to the crock pot with the oxtail and continue to stew for 1 more hour. You may add other vegetables, like carrots and greens, depending on how long they will take to cook.
6.    Add salt to taste. You may garnish with cilantro.

tcm nutrition oxtail soup

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Nutrition

Ginseng and Walnut Congee

Dr. Grace Tan recommends Ginseng and Walnut Congee for a healthy sweet treat in the wintertime. This rice porridge boosts the qi and warms the kidneys. It also calms the spirit and generates moisture in a typically very dry season. It is not suitable for patients with a cold or fever.

nutrition ginseng

Ingredients:
5g ginseng (approximately 1 inch of the root)
½ cup walnuts
2½ cups rice
Water
¼ cup honey


Instructions:
1.    Soak ginseng in water at room temperature until soft. Cut into small pieces. (5g is a good amount if you are just starting to take ginseng, you can gradually increase amount up to 10 or 15g)
2.    Place first four ingredients in a clay pot and add more water. You can also do this in a crock pot, although if you do it overnight, make sure to add extra water.
3.    Bring the pot to the boil on high heat, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
4.    Add honey and continue to simmer until the soup turns into a paste-like consistency.

tcm nutrition walnut congee

Get more traditional Chinese medicine nutrition tips as well as a recipe for each seaon by downloading our TCM guide to nutrition.

acupuncture appointments in Austin

 

Topics: nutrition, tcm nutrition, tcm

Chinese Medicine for Addiction and Recovery

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 09:58 AM

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Claudia Voyles, LAc, is the founder and director of Remedy Center for Healing Arts, anclaudia voyles, acu detox training acupuncture and psychotherapy practice in south Austin. In her private practice, Claudia typically will treat about 10 patients per week who are recovering persons, as well as others with mental health diagnoses. “The goal of acupuncture is always to restore balance, flow, and maximum functioning.”

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a unique way of assessing physiology and psychology. One fascinating pattern in the assessment of addiction is called "empty fire," the flaring up symptoms, including emotions and behavior due to the loss of a calm center. Treatment then is designed to nourish the Yin aspect, restore balance, and support the recovery process by making the person stronger from the inside. Treatment is appropriate as support throughout the continuum of care, from pre-treatment or harm reduction through aftercare and recovery maintenance (relapse prevention). “‘Addiction’ is not a Chinese medical diagnosis. Sometimes we are supporting the withdrawal process, minimizing the symptoms and cravings. Sometimes we are working on the underlying complaints which can be triggers: stress, anxiety, depression, and/or history of trauma and abuse. People in recovery are eager to manage symptoms of chronic illness without medication whenever possible and often have chronic pain or other imbalances that will undermine their recovery and/or quality of life if not addressed."

The NADA protocol – Acudetox

acupuncture for addictions and recovery

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) promotes the integration of acudetox, a simple ear acupuncture protocol with appropriate modalities of care. NADA is a not-for-profit training and advocacy organization that encourages community wellness through the use of a standardized auricular acupuncture protocol for behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster and emotional trauma.

Texas allows a limited set of treatment professionals to cross-train in the NADA protocol. This includes acupuncturists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, registered and vocational nurses, chemical dependency counselors, medical doctors, and osteopathic doctors. “Acudetox is not a stand-alone treatment, and in my opinion is best provided by a clinician on a treatment team, not by an independent acupuncturist,” said Claudia.

AOMA Provides Acupuncture at Austin Recovery

nada protocol

Claudia is also a clinical preceptor at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas. She supervises interns at a specialty clinic in behavioral health at Austin Recovery. Claudia is a NADA-Registered Trainer and co-chair or training for the organization. She also conducts continuing education programs at the acupuncture college and in the community.

In early 2014, AOMA interns began providing auricular acupuncture treatments (NADA protocol) at Austin Recovery’s Hicks Family Ranch, a 40-acre, in-patient addiction treatment facility in Buda, Texas. Austin Recovery serves between 800 and 1,000 clients each year, providing individual and group counseling, education about addiction processes, 12-step programs, life skills classes, musical journey experiences, and now acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

AOMA incorporates the NADA training into the Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program. At Austin Recovery, acupuncture students provide acudetox with the treatment staff for 10-25 clients, and then a full-body acupuncture clinic for eight. “We treat withdrawal--usually post-acute with that population--as well as chronic/acute pain, anxiety, stress, insomnia, digestive issues, libido/sexual function issues, etc.,” said Claudia. After a recent acupuncture treatment an Austin Recovery, a patient shared, "I have never breathed so deep before. I didn't realize I wasn't fully breathing." Restoring simple quality of life to recovering persons can be truly transformative.

Natalie Villarreal, a senior acupuncture intern at AOMA, feels very lucky to be able to learn and treat patients at ‘the Ranch’.  “Austin Recovery provides a unique integrative clinic opportunity.  The integrative team encourages a supportive environment, with acupuncturists and social workers working side by side. I love that we can get a better perspective on the experience of our patients through attending classes and meetings that they are going to. This advanced clinic epitomizes the true meaning of integrative medicine.”

Introduction to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, addiction, recovery, NADA, Claudia Voyles, tcm

AOMA Student Veteran Spotlight: Tasha Gumpert

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

Tasha Gumpert

Tasha Gumpert veteran

Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Degree Student
Class of 2016

Military Branch: US Army
Rank: Sergeant
Years Served: 4.5

What prompted you to return to school?

I spent four and a half years in the Army. I deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic, and spent my deployment patrolling in combat situations. My deployment affected me tremendously both physically and emotionally. After western medicine failed me I began searching for other healing modalities, and found natural medicine- including Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. I always knew that I was meant for the medical field, but wasn't sure where. The amount of healing I was able to achieve through Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine prompted me to look for a school and enroll. I knew for the first time in my life what my calling was, and had a tremendous need to learn more about it and share it with others.

Why did you choose AOMA? 

My first acupuncture experiences were from people who had attended AOMA, and they were fabulous!!! They encouraged me to check it out. After spending a lot of time searching for/researching schools, it became apparent that AOMA was one of the best schools for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, and here I am...

What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use while attending?

I am currently using the Vocational Rehabilitation program through the VA. It is a program much like the GI bill, but is only for medically retired/disabled veterans. It is an outstanding program. 

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What has your experience been like as a student?

For the most part my experience has been phenomenal. I love the campus, the administration has been more supportive and helpful than I ever could have imagined, all of the teachers/doctors have exceeded my expectations, and most of the student body has been accepting and become a family to me. Going to school this time has been different than before I deployed- I definitely have some different cognitive functioning, and it has taken some time to figure things out and adjust to how my brain works now.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?

My biggest advice is be kind to yourself, and give yourself grace. Some of the discoveries I made about my personal learning process were hard and unexpected- take them in stride, and understand that the school admin knows and understands these things happen, and are there for you. Give yourself room to make adjustments and get to know the scholarly side of yourself again, because it probably won't be the same. Don't be afraid to ask for help or make changes. It is important for you to understand that school in itself can trigger stress responses because it is so challenging at times- if you are prepared for this ahead of time you will be able to deal with it in a much better way. Also, give the same grace to your classmates, they can't ever understand what you've been through or how different you may be, and you should never expect them to. Be proud of what you have done and who you are, embrace your experience and knowledge, and use it to be an outstanding practitioner.

What challenges and rewards have you experienced while working with military and veteran populations in clinic?

 I have only observed [in clinic] thus far, but my strong advice would be to make sure you get acupuncture once a week and take herbs. Take care of yourself, take care of your health needs- especially if you have PTSD or anxiety. I would also recommend staying connected with a social worker or counselor. Situations will arise in clinic that may take you to a place you don't want to go- if you are taking care of yourself and your needs, it will be easier to stay present and focused and deliver a good treatment. Use your ability to relate and experiences to your advantage- your clients will be able to respond to you in a way they couldn't to a civilian, and you will be able to understand them better than a civilian could if they struggle from the same issues. It is incredibly rewarding to see another veteran or trauma victim helped and healed using our medicine, there are few better feelings in the world than seeing someone walk in or out of clinic feeling better than they ever could have imagined! This is a powerful medicine for us, and now is the time to share it. I am honored to be a part of something so great.

Watch a video interview with Tasha

 

 

Topics: student spotlight, veteran affairs

What Acupuncturists Should Know about Ebola

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 @ 02:45 PM

facts about ebola

Many questions have emerged pertaining to how acupuncturists should deal with the threat of Ebola. Your state association wants you to be aware of late breaking news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the message set forth by one of its epidemiologists with special CDC Ebola training. This epidemiologist states that the CDC has only published official guidelines for acute care facilities. However, more recently, the CDC addressed outpatient facilities that include acupuncture practices. We wanted to provide you with the following information and key resources to assist you to educate your patients, your staff, and your professional and student practitioners.

Among the most important points made are the following:

  • Ancillary services, such as acupuncture clinics, should have a plan of action.
  • Before treating clients, ask if they have been in areas affected by Ebola during the past 21 days.
  • Ask if they have been in contact with anyone else who has been in areas affected by Ebola in the past 21 days and has been sick or experiencing any fever.
  • If the answer is yes, ask the patient to step into a private area, after which a trained medical professional should complete further screening (call either a Health Department official or other contracted service).
  • Patients are not contagious until they have a fever and do not feel well
  • Even at the first signs of fever they are not contagious in general.
  • If you screen patients and rule out any with risks of Ebola, clinical staff should be able to practice safely.

Given this vital information, it would be wise for acupuncturists to develop a plan as soon as possible.  Access a checklist that you could use for patients with suspected Ebola Virus Disease in the United States.

Be aware of the instructive posters pertaining to Ebola developed by the CDC that can be hung in your clinic. Click on this link to access.

We recommend checking the CDC homepage for late-breaking information.

Topics: infectious disease, Ebola

3 Ways Essential Oils Helped Me Grow My Acupuncture Practice

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 10:55 AM

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With all the powerful benefits acupuncture and Chinese herbs have to offer my patients, you may be wondering why I chose to add an additional modality to my practice. For years, I was a closet essential oil user. I used them at home in my own personal wellness routine but feared sharing this information with my patients would somehow dilute my focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, once I began to study essential oils through the lens of TCM taking into account the temperature of the oils, their indications, and their affinity toward particular organs and meridians, my confidence level grew and so did my practice. In particular, three keys areas of my practice expanded: patient empowerment, complementary treatment options, and patient education.

Patient Empowerment

On a good day, my patients leave my office (or report back later) feeling relief from whatever brought them to my practice. On a great day, they’ve left not only feeling better but have learned some sort of valuable skill that helps keep them well and enhances their ability to handle future challenges. Along with proper diet, exercise, and acupressure, essential oils are a wonderful way for patients to extend the healing benefits of our time together as well as handle some common health challenges when they arise.

Complementary Treatment Options

I have also found essential oils to be beneficial when my patients are taking a large number of prescription medications and the uncertainty of adding an herbal formula would be too great (either due to possible herb/drug interactions or due to the uncertainty of how well their liver and kidneys are functioning under the additional stress). For them, essential oil inhalation or topical application can provide much needed stress relief, mental clarity, and soothe overworked muscles.

Patient Education

Since essential oils can be used to make natural household cleaners and as part of a healthier skin care routine, the addition of essential oils into my practice has opened up a broader discussion of how to eliminate unnecessary exposure to chemicals and toxins in our environment and replace these products with ones that support and boost our immune system.

Over the years, essential oils have become a fantastic way for me to connect with my patients and teach them additional tools to enhance their health and well-being. I hope you will give it a try! 

diane lowryAOMA alumna, Diane Lowry happily resides in Glen Allen, VA where she is the owner and Licensed Acupuncturist of HealthFocus Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She holds Diplomate status in both Oriental Medicine and Asian Bodywork Therapy from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and is an American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA)-Certified Practitioner. www.HealthFocusAcupuncture.com

Topics: alumni, acupuncture school, practice management, essential oils, aromatherapy

Rewards and Challenges of Starting an Acupuncture Practice

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Sun, Sep 28, 2014 @ 09:31 AM

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When you chose to become a licensed acupuncturist (LAc) you chose a fulfilling, exciting, and sometimes challenging career. To become a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine you must complete a 4-year master’s degree, pass the national certification exams, and apply for state licensure. As many practitioners of Chinese medicine will attest, that is just the beginning of the journey. AOMA alumni share their experiences starting their acupuncture practices.

Jacob GodwinJacob Godwin, Class of 2005

Where do your practice?
Spokane, Washington | godwinacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Having to realize where and how acupuncture fits into modern healthcare was a grueling lesson. Most acupuncturists are woefully unprepared to face the harsh realities of practice, and I was no exception. Learning to prioritize my understanding of biomedicine, particularly the biological approach to acupuncture, and to communicate effectively with other doctors has made an enormous difference. Those skills plus time and clinical effectiveness have helped me create a successful practice.

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
Making a living by helping thousands of people simply by following my passion is the best reward for me.

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Acupuncture has the potential to make huge contributions to medicine. The future of acupuncture relies on our participation in science and research. Learn your biomedical science. Indulge in the mystery and the tradition of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, but don't let them prevent you from developing acupuncture into a modern practice based on science. Accept nothing on authority or tradition alone. Press, probe, and investigate every nook and cranny of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine theory.

alison larmee, lacAlison Larmee Born, Class of 2006

Where do your practice?
Wilmington, North Carolina | capefearacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Community

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Educating the public on the advantages of community acupuncture (though I provide both community and private treatments). Finding the right space (physical building) to accommodate both styles as my practice grows.

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
Being able to help many different walks of life by offering both private and community. Being my own boss, setting my own hours. Making a profit!

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Starting your own practice is very rewarding but also extremely time consuming. There are no days off like when I was an independent contractor for another practice. Now with a 10 month old child some days running the business, attending to patients and my child seems really... well, overwhelming. It's not an undertaking to be taken lightly - it's wonderful in many ways - but oh so hard in others. Just my two cents. Feel free to contact me through my website if you'd like to talk about challenges and rewards.

Alyson BayerAlyson Bayer, Class of 2009

Where do your practice?
Conroe, Texas | clearchoiceacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Getting over the fear of starting my own business.      

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The most rewarding part of having my own practice is the confidence it has given me.  I also enjoy setting my own schedule to give myself plenty of time with my family and to relax and enjoy life.         

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Networking is one of the best ways I have found to grow my business. This field is very much up and coming.  More and more people are seeking alternatives to allopathic, overly busy doctors with little time for them. One thing I do in my practice is to make sure to give every single one of my patients enough of my time to listen to them every time they come into see me.

Cynthia ClarkCynthia Clark, Class of 2011

Where do your practice?
Sarasota, Florida | longevitywellnessclinic.com 

What type of practice are you in?
Private

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Figuring out my identity as a practitioner           

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
It's who you are as a person that has the greatest effect on your patients.                          

Acupuncture Career Guide

Gregory CareyGregory Carey, Class of 2011

Where do your practice?
Old Bridge, New Jersey | oldbridgeacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
Generating Patient Visits  

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The opportunity to engage in a profession that I deeply care about is the most rewarding aspect of running my own acupuncture clinic.

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Follow your passion and you can create success in what you do.

Josh SaulJoshua Saul, Class of 2012

Where do your practice?
Atlanta, Georgia | SunWellATL.com

What type of practice are you in?
Private, Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
I think this question should be " What ARE your biggest challenges and starting practice?"   While I am seeing a study number of patients I am still not where I'd like to be. I think some of the biggest challenges to starting a practice is getting a system in place so that each new patient who walks in the door has a consistent, rewarding experience.  

Right now, my biggest challenge is getting all the administrative things done that I should have done in school like building a fully functional website that helps people know I’m out here and able to help.  Other administrative items include getting my LLC setup, setting up my practice management software and electronic health records (using Office Ally) and getting together promotional material like a business name, logo, business cards, informational rack cards, signs and other material.  If I had done this in school, even if I didn’t know what my business name would be, the content would be in place and all name information could be easily changed. 

Part of the system should also educate new patients as to what we do, how it works and why it's valuable to them and their healthcare.   Figuring out how to do this properly has definitely been challenging and is an ongoing work in progress.        

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The most rewarding part for me has been feeling like I have started to create something out of nothing. While starting a business is extremely difficult  I feel good about saying that I have worked harder at this than anything in my life. School was challenging but starting a business was by far much more difficult.  As I start to see patients and watch them get better there is something humbling, motivating and exciting in the  realization that I am serving my purpose.

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
I love what I do and I knew it when I started school.  What I didn't know was how much work was in store for me after school! If you are a current student my advice is to get started now! Whatever it is that you can do to start your business do it now!  Decide in what area you want to specialize, build your website, start figuring out your business model, start saving some cash - the list is long and time in school is not the hard part. If you aren't working on school and getting your business ready a solid 40 or more hours a week you aren't working hard enough.  Start now.  It will be worth it.

Abigail KarpAbigail Karp, Class of 2013

Where do your practice?
Austin, Texas | reproductiveacupuncture.com

What type of practice are you in?
Collaborative

What were your biggest challenges in starting practice?
It's a challenge knowing where to begin when starting your own practice, and I found it to be a blessing to join a practice of experienced acupuncturists.                      

What has been the most rewarding part of starting practice?
The most rewarding party of starting practice has been getting to know a new community of patients and working closely with seasoned acupuncturists in my chosen specialty. It has been amazing having the opportunity to gain new insights from my coworkers. So much learning and growing happens outside of acupuncture school, and I've been loving having the chance to continue to grow!

What else would you like to share with prospective and current students?
Trying to keep an open mind and being flexible has been very helpful for me in finding my way. It's hard to know what sort of practice you will enjoy until you try different options post-graduation.

Careers in Acupuncture: Download free eBook!

Topics: job opportunities, alumni, alumni spotlight, practice management, acupuncture practice

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