Please introduce yourself! Where are you from? Where did you go to undergraduate? What did you study? How far along/When did you start at AOMA?
My name is Katie Shea and I grew up in Chicago. I went to Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) for undergrad and received a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I began attending the master’s program at AOMA Fall of 2017.
What were you doing before you came to AOMA?
Before coming to AOMA, I was practicing as a registered nurse. I spent over a year in the emergency room immediately after graduating from college then transferred departments to work in a cardiac electrophysiology lab. I am continuing to practice as a nurse and work with cardiac patients while attending AOMA.
What was your first introduction to acupuncture and what was your impression?
My first introduction to acupuncture was at AOMA with Dr. Luo. I have always been interested in alternative therapies and was curious about TCM. I learned right away how effective acupuncture and herbs could be, as it quickly alleviated multiple vague symptoms I was experiencing at the time. Eventually, I began having regular treatments for both chronic and acute issues (I was training for a marathon at the time) and felt a deep connection to the subtle yet powerful nature of this medicine.
When did you become interested in studying Chinese medicine and why? What made you choose AOMA as your school and/or shift your career focus to come to AOMA?
Many factors were involved in my decision to embark on this journey into Chinese medicine. As a nurse, I understand the importance of providing safe and effective care to patients. I was also becoming familiar that one medical paradigm is not sufficient to solve all of the health concerns that face our modern world. As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I am also aware that there is much more to health than simply not getting sick; it is about learning how to listen to your body and act in a way that promotes balance. To me, that is the exact nature of Chinese medicine - to correct the small imbalances and promote harmony in the body in a nuanced yet long-lasting and sustainable way.
What are some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?
My favorite class at AOMA so far is Foundations with Dr. Wu. I could take this class over and over (which I did) and continue to learn so much from a professor that has an abundance of knowledge yet presents the material in a very simple way.
What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why? Describe your experiences at AOMA.
My favorite aspect of AOMA is that everyone is so open, generous with their own personal challenges and health journeys, and unsparing with their energy and attention. I frequently find myself in an insightful conversation with a group of intelligent people that have very diverse backgrounds. I have also noticed the willingness of AOMA students to help one another in a time of need. On multiple occasions, I have been truly touched by the acts of kindness or simple gestures to help and support a fellow colleague. I feel very lucky to be involved in this community.
Have you started treating as a student intern yet? If so, please describe a unique experience or something that surprised you.
I have not yet started to treat as an intern but there have been many unique moments that have surprised me, particularly in the acupuncture clinic at the Kerrville Folk Festival. It was incredible to see the amount of patients that AOMA students were able to serve, free of charge, in a modest, four-bed clinic. The complaints ranged from joint pain from worn-out musicians and heat-related issues from camping outside in Texas in June to deep emotional pain from years of trauma. Each patient displayed openness and gratitude and showed a willingness to contribute to their own healing by taking what the practitioner said seriously; this was something I did not expect in such a casual setting.
What, if any perceptions of Chinese medicine have changed from when you started the program to now? What vision would you like to see for the future of healthcare?
For the most part, my perceptions of Chinese medicine have been consistent with my expectations entering the program. As I learn more, however, I realize that TCM and conventional medicine have more in common than many people realize. The two disciplines are simply describing the same body using a different language (both literally and figuratively) and coming to very similar conclusions. My hope for the future of healthcare is that we continue in a direction toward a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. It is no coincidence that one system picks up where the other leaves off; it is because both are necessary if the healthcare team intends to both treat illness while also maintaining positive health.
What are you plans after graduation?
Following graduation, I would like to travel and volunteer my time and skills while acquiring the experience necessary to start my own practice. Eventually, my goal is to combine both eastern and western modalities in order to provide patients with well-rounded care. This will ideally include a multidisciplinary practice that utilizes many different approaches to healthcare in a way that not only treats illness but also supports optimal functioning.
Want to learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA? Contact the AOMA admissions office!