AOMA Blog

6 Things You Can Do with a Degree in Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 @ 04:22 PM

 

6 Things

Have you ever considered a career in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine? Many students choose this path because of a personal journey to serve others, while some have profound experiences as a patient that inspire a lifetime of study and a new career path. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a growing field within healthcare in the United States. Many new doors and opportunities are coming available to licensed acupuncturists, therefore boosting an overall growth of the integration of Chinese medicine into the western healthcare system. More and more healthcare providers are adding employment opportunities for acupuncturists, leaving the profession very hopeful for its future workforce. As of today, there are many different things you can do with a degree in acupuncture – including some you probably haven't heard of yet.

Currently, in the United States, to be a licensed acupuncturist, one must earn a four-year master’s degree as well as pass the national board examinations (NCCAOM). You will also need to qualify for state licensure requirements depending on your location. Doctoral degrees are also being offered in the field now, including a Professional Doctorate and Clinical Specialty Doctorate. Chinese medicine continues to grow as a field and more and more opportunities are being presented, such as hospital positions, solo practice, treating on a cruise line, or working as a professor. There are no limits to what the future may hold for acupuncturists. Here we will dive into some of the exciting opportunities that are presently available.

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Photo Credit: ELIZABETH FLORES, STAR TRIBUNE

Become a Hospital Acupuncturist

As acupuncture becomes more highly regarded in the medical field, healthcare delivery institutions are taking notice and discovering for themselves how powerful acupuncture can be. In Austin, Texas, one of the top hospitals – Baylor Scott & White, currently employs acupuncturists for their integrative medicine program. This program includes an integrative care program working with other specialties including massage therapists.

Acupuncturists have the ability to work with other healthcare providers in a dynamic setting, allowing them more hands on experience with western medical diagnosis and ways of thinking. Two AOMA graduates, Tiodoso Bustillo and Ashley Oved are working at Baylor Scott and White as acupuncturists. Some benefits acupuncture can serve specifically for the hospital setting could include anesthesia and post-surgery recovery. In addition, Adam Reinstein, an AOMA alumnus, serves as one of the first emergency room acupuncturists in Minnesota working with high trauma patients.

Work in an Integrative Healthcare Clinic

Integrative healthcare clinics are becoming a popular new model for clinics around the country. In an integrative healthcare office, an acupuncturist will work with other practitioners such as chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, psychologist/psychiatrists, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. This model is very patient-centered, that is, a patient can go to a single location to get the care they need, also while health data can be shared by all the practitioners to ensure collaborative care. This is also a good setting for acupuncturists, as they can offer their services to any patient of any other specialist in the practice.

Working cooperatively, these integrative practitioners can share practice costs, and approach patient care from a teamwork perspective. Patients are searching for more than one answer to their illness and want various options for treatment strategies, which is why integrative clinics are being sought out. One of our alumni and current faculty, as well as clinic supervisors, Anne Cusick, works at a Family Care Clinic in an integrative setting. Her environment allows her to work collaboratively with a family medicine doctor.

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Work at an Established Acupuncture Practice

Don't want the stress of opening up your own practice? Another great option is to work at an established acupuncture clinic looking to expand or rent out a room. Many have offices with more patients coming in than they can handle in their schedule and would love to have another acupuncturist to take on some of the workload. This could allow you to make a paycheck and not worry about overhead costs. Modern Acupuncture is one example of a clinic emerging in Austin with plans to expand and hire recent graduates. This model also gives you time to apprentice and learn from more advanced acupuncturists, and develop client rapport with patients that have already developed trust with the office. There are also other local acupuncture clinics in the Austin area that regularly hire recent graduates, such as Turtle Dragon and South Austin Acupuncture.

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Sail the World as a Cruise Ship Acupuncturist

A big attraction for recent graduates in the field is to work on a cruise line. There you gain experience giving health related talks to crowds, marketing acupuncture to people on the cruise line, and seeing a variety of patients with a steady income. Plus, you have the bonus of travelling the world on a cruise line! The Onboard Spa by Steiner offers jobs to recent graduates as well as other licensed acupuncturists on their cruise lines. There is a three day training prior to the job, and each contract lasts seven months. Many graduates love this option because it gives them time to save money on living costs, while earning money to put towards their loans, and travel the world at the same time.

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Teach Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

As the acupuncture field grows, so does the need for passionate teachers. There are more than 50 acupuncture schools in the United States, with three in Texas. This can give one the opportunity to share their passion for the field of acupuncture by teaching. While a master’s degree is currently required to seek licensure as an acupuncturist, many TCM schools such as AOMA offer doctoral degrees, designed to add advanced clinical speciality training, but also provide an avenue to achieve more prestigious teaching jobs at the nation’s top AOM schools. This environment can help you get support for research in the field. Schools such as AOMA hire esteemed acupuncturists in the field from all over, such as Elizabeth Fordyce who teaches advanced needling classes focusing on AOMA’s Dr. Tan’s Balance Method, as well as Aaron Rubinstein who teaches an advanced needling class focusing on Japanese style acupuncture.

Conduct TCM Research Projects

Acupuncturists are turning to other avenues to use their education as well, such as participating in and conducting research. With goals to help promote the awareness and education of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, research on acupuncture is growing with support from large healthcare organizations and medical research universities, funding studies such as pain management with acupuncture in response to the current opioid crisis.

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Open your Own Acupuncture Clinic

Majority of acupuncturists want to open up a solo practice upon graduation. The appeal of being an entrepreneur and creating their own flexibility with scheduling and how they want to run their business is huge. The advantages include independence and being able to work for yourself. Through this enormous challenge, you will develop the skills to establish yourself in the field and be successful. Many schools like AOMA offer practice management courses to give you the skills you need to succeed after graduation.

Whatever career path you think is best for you in the field of Chinese medicine, know there are many options and the opportunities are growing. The AOMA Career Services department can help guide and mentor you to choose the best career path. An exciting career in one of the rising fields in healthcare awaits you!

Contact Admissions today to learn more about how AOMA can prepare you for a career in the field of Chinese medicine.

Contact  Admissions

 

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture school, chinese medicine school

5 TCM Apps for any Acupuncture Student

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 @ 04:48 PM

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As an acupuncture student, finding reliable and inexpensive clinic tools can be tricky. That’s why we’ve picked a few apps and laid out their pros and cons for you!

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First choice app would be A Manual of Acupuncture, from The Journal of Chinese Medicine ($35.99). The pros being that the app is just like the book with descriptive locations of points and detailed photos that are easy to follow. One of the other great aspects is the videos that show how to locate points as well on human models. This app is extremely user friendly and is a great aid in the clinic or classroom. Includes sections with point categories such as luo connecting points and six command points for easy reference. The only con about this app is that it is a little pricey for an app, although much less expensive than the book ($100-$150). 

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Runner up app is TCM Clinic Aid from Cyber and Sons ($14.99). This one may just be the best bang for your buck, because it not only has point locations but it also includes Chinese herbs. Included in the app is point descriptions as well as images for each point. For the herbal portion it has categories for all 487 single herbs, and categories for herbal formulas. A bonus feature is would be that the app has in app purchases which allows you to quiz yourself on both herbs and point locations, master tung point locations, as well as detailed disease diagnosis categories including pulse diagnosis and six stages. Cons are that the picture quality could be better.

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Acu Pro is the next app on our list, ($14.99). The pros are that it’s a good general reference for all the acupuncture points, has point categories and short descriptions for locating points. Con’s are that there aren’t videos for finding points and the photos are not super detailed. In comparison with TCM Clinic Aid, it lacks herbal information and costs the same.

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Acu Points would be the next app ($9.99). If you’re looking to spend less than $15 on an app this would be your best bet. Pros for this app are that it shows points in relation to each other along meridians, has a search area for general issues such as headaches and includes a categories search section (ex: shu points). Overall the pictures used for point locations are not the best quality, and if just learning point locations might not be the best reference. This app is also not as user friendly as all the others and can be a bit trickier trying to navigate.

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Our last and least expensive app is Acupuncture Assistant, costing $6.99. This app is great for just points. Pros include good pictures of acupuncture points, shows points along channels relative to other points and a description for locating points. App has other general information on meridians, actions and indications for points, as well as search feature for points in relation to diagnostic patterns. Bonus features are that you can add notes to points and save them to the app, as well as the patient timer. Price is very reasonable for what you get. Cons are that photo details could be better, no video feature, no herbs, and isn’t the most user friendly. If you’re looking for something inexpensive as a reference, this is the app for you.

Learn more about the AOMA   Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Programs

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture, apps

AOMA Welcomes New President, Dr. Betty Edmond

Posted by Rob Davidson on Tue, May 03, 2016 @ 09:35 AM

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AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine is pleased to announce that Dr. Betty Edmond is serving as the fourth CEO and President. Dr. Edmond brings strong leadership skills and experience to the organization, with experience as a physician, senior healthcare executive and advocate for the advancement of Oriental and Integrative Medicine.

She has 19 years of experience as Medical Director of Seton’s Children’s Hospital and VP of Medical Affairs at Seton Healthcare Family in Austin, and 20 years of academic and clinical experience as a faculty member and specialist in Pediatric Infectious Diseases. As former Governing Board member at AOMA, Dr. Edmond understands the challenges faced by integrative health practitioners seeking inclusion within the greater healthcare system.

Dr. Edmond employs a variety of healthcare modalities and has a passion for empowering people with the knowledge and tools to manage their own health. She studied at Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin as an expression of her interest in natural foods as preventative, health-giving care.

Regarding the future of medicine and patient care, Dr. Edmond feels the time has come for a rapid advancement of Integrative Medicine through collaborative teams of healthcare practitioners, coordinating care around the needs of each patient. Her unique perspective and experience brings new opportunities to AOMA to build bridges with western medical systems to offer patients a more comprehensive and collaborative approach to their care.

According to Dr. Edmond, a person-centered coordinated care model best meets patient needs and enhances patient outcomes – both in disease prevention and therapy. She is inspired by the holistic healthcare approach at AOMA and is excited about the organization’s position as a strong national leader capable of enriching Oriental and Integrative Medicine study as a critical healthcare field of practice and research. 

Dr. Edmond looks forward to working with the many committed leaders, faculty, staff and students at AOMA, to include AOMA’s past president Dr. Will Morris, a nationally recognized leader in Oriental Medicine who is continuing as President Emeritus and Research Scholar at AOMA.

About AOMA:

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine offers regionally accredited masters and doctoral level degree programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, preparing its students for careers as skilled, professional practitioners. AOMA is known for its internationally recognized faculty, award-winning student clinical internship program, and herbal medicine program. AOMA provides for over 16,000 patient visits annually in its student and professional clinics and collaborates with healthcare institutions including the Seton Healthcare Family, People’s Community Clinic, and Austin Recovery. AOMA gives back to the community through nonprofit partnerships and by providing free and reduced price treatments to people who cannot afford them. AOMA is located at 4701 West Gate Blvd. AOMA also serves patients and retail customers at its North Austin location, 2700 West Anderson Lane. For more information see www.aoma.edu or call 512-492-3034.

Topics: acupuncture school, aoma, aoma president

Will Morris: New Focus as AOMA Resident Scholar and President Emeritus

Posted by William Morris on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 @ 12:44 PM

Dear AOMA Community,

It is not without mixed feelings that I call upon the Board of Governors to begin a search for a new president. As I gaze upon the final 1/3 of my life, it has become necessary for me to release a portion of my work which has been a primary focus for the last ten years the role as president of AOMA. It is now time to refine and cultivate the teachings with which I have been gifted by family lineages and literate traditions.

Good leadership requires a timely and healthy transfer of roles and responsibilities. The transition to a new president will take place according to these values.

At this crossroad, I would like to take the opportunity to send gratitude and blessings to this community. I could not have had the success that has taken place over the last ten years without a team composed of remarkable grit and commitment. Especially, thank you to: Linda Fontaine, Jamie Wu, Anne Province, Lesley Hamilton, John Finnell, Donna Hurta and Cara Edmond. The AOMA board of governors has provided extraordinary wisdom and insight in guiding the mission of the institution; thank you for your commitment. AOMA has the finest faculty in the field and I am privileged to work at their side. AOMA students generate an extraordinary community whereby learning is extended through their passion for the work and each other. I would like to recognize especially those learners I have worked with in the clinic; that is the highlight of my week. The staff at AOMA is nothing less than amazing, pursuing institutional goals with enthusiasm and tenacity, thank you.

I am pleased that I will remain with AOMA in the role of Resident Scholar and President Emeritus. To this end, I am wishing health, wealth and happiness for every recipient of this note and to those lives which AOMA has had the opportunity to touch.

Warmly,

Will

Topics: acupuncture school, aoma students

From Patient to Practitioner: Two Perspectives on Chinese Medicine

Posted by Stephanie Madden on Thu, Oct 08, 2015 @ 03:00 PM

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Many acupuncture students begin their journey as patients before becoming fully invested in the academics and practice of oriental medicine. For one reason or another, this functional medicine resonates with the healing process better than others you have tried before and the interest is sparked. At some point the fascination exceeds the mystery and develops into a desire to understand how it works. Like many others before me, I was incredibly curious about this profound method of manipulating qi.

When I was having complications with my own health going to doctors became a fearful chore. In the waiting room I would work myself into a clammy sweat anticipating whichever test they would need to run next, but unfortunately, leave feeling the same as the day before and without conclusive results. There were so many follow-ups and referrals to get to a place of homoeostasis it seemed the horizon would never come.

The experience with my acupuncturist was a world of difference – the closer I was to the office the better I felt. As soon as it was my turn to be seen I could feel my muscles unlock from the base of my skull to the tips of my toes. I could release my tension onto the floor and finally take a breath. The building my acupuncturist worked in including the treatment rooms were nothing special, but there was something about the energy of the space my practitioner created for me that was more therapeutic than any other place I had known at the time. Walking into that space with her made me feel confident I would leave feeling better than I came, which I always did.

I admired her. She portrayed freedom with her personal style underneath her lab coat and by the way she was accompanied by her small child at work. I felt her mind was completely focused on me and my healing while I was in her presence. The passion and independence she had as a businesswoman was something I had only fantasized about. Seeing it right in front of me was promising for my dreams.  It was about more than the incredible healing I achieved while I was under her care that convinced me I had found my divine decree – the harmonious lifestyle she portrayed is what held a mirror to my future.

Now as a young practitioner and student of the medicine at AOMA, I aspire to create the same atmosphere my acupuncturist did for me. When I see patients I always try to meet them from wherever they are coming from. For several of them this is their last resort, a shot in the dark, because they have been in pain for so long. For others, it's an intricate part of a well thought out therapeutic plan. The essence of transitioning from patient to practitioner is that I am now the one who creates the space.

Whatever was happening before they stepped into my treatment room has lost all of its power. I open the space to allow my patients to leave whatever misfortunes they have on the floor, jump up on the table, and heal. At the end of each session I watch my patients walk away with a lighter heart as I wash their pain from my hands and, we both leave the day behind us on that floor and go home.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture clinics, acupuncture, acupuncture patients

Beyond the Yang of Acupuncture: Yin in Practice

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 @ 11:27 AM

The reason why most people choose to go into the field of Integrative Medicine and attend school at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine may not be what you think. More often, it is not about the money or the title. In actuality, people are choosing this field because, as acupuncturists and integrative medicine practitioners, they have a fantastic opportunity to connect with their patients on a deeper level than most medical professionals. Needling is only a very small part of what we learn in school and an even smaller part of an acupuncturist’s practice.

Needling is part of the yang portion of our studies- the part of physically doing something, of direct intervention. However, it is my opinion that the yin side of our studies here at AOMA may be the more interesting of the two. The yin nature of a practice – what goes on beyond the needles, is about nurturing; it is about presence and solidness. Yin is the substance with which yang can be utilized. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine know that one cannot have yang without yin; there has to be a balance of both within the body and within any good medical practice. Therefore, here at AOMA we learn and practice how to bring the yin into our practice.

Every Friday morning of the summer term of 2015, Rupesh Chhagan leads his Clinic Communication class in a mind-body practice – a series of qigong movements, followed by a guided meditation. Only after the students have taken the time to check in with their own wellbeing through movement and deep inner connection can class lecture begin. But class lecture in Clinic Communication is anything but a lecture.

As a practitioner of Hakomi, a form of mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy, Rupesh believes that the body is a gateway of the unconscious mind. The body reflects what is happening internally- emotionally, spiritually, and physically. In Clinic Communication class, Rupesh reminds his students that that their patients have individual feelings, emotions, beliefs, and thoughts, and they are not just a set of symptoms and complaints in the clinic.

Instead of being instructed on how to act in the clinic setting, students are asked to actively participate in listening exercises. Instead of formulating their next response and interjecting their ideas immediately, listening students are asked to embody the idea of “the person sitting in front of me is an inspiration to me." They practice feeling what real listening is like, what it looks like. Each of the students in the classroom teams up with another student and they each present the other with a mild problem they are experiencing in their lives while the other student listens. They are not just practicing listening, but they are learning to actually hear what the other student is saying and feeling. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, you learn to “listen with your whole body” and at AOMA you learn to embody loving presence, you learn to see your patients and those you listen to as inspirations for you.

If there is one thing to take away from the Clinic Communication course with Rupesh, it is that even when we feel that we have nothing in common with another person, we always share the human experience. Patients are people. We all have our own set of beliefs, emotions, histories, and thoughts but we are all so similar. We are all in search of balance. As acupuncturists, it is our job to find our own sense of balance so that we can help our patients find theirs. We practice listening to our patients and in turn, they inspire us. We are not just needling - we are connecting with our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters as student interns and one day as practitioners. Through empathic listening along with mindfulness in providing treatment, yin and yang are balanced.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: acupuncture school, yin/yang theory, acupuncture

5 Things You Will Learn in TCM School

Posted by Devan Oschmann on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 @ 04:38 PM

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In Traditional Chinese Medicine School, you will learn much more than you would expect. Because Chinese medicine and acupuncture has been in existence for many centuries and has manifested itself in varying cultures, the styles and theories are endless. This, among other reasons, is why I chose to go to TCM School. I wanted to be able to tailor treatments to my patient’s needs, in addition to consulting them as a holistic health care practitioner. With my education, license and degree, Not only can I give patients varying forms of treatments such as acupuncture and herbs, I can also consult them regarding lifestyle and nutritional modifications. At AOMA especially, you will be exposed to a myriad of theories and protocols. You will graduate with so many tools under your belt to chose and hone. As such, it was quite difficult to narrow it down to 5 things you will learn in TCM School. After much thought and consulting my constituents, here is what we have to say:

1) Acupuncture is an Art Form

There is no such thing as a perfect point prescription. Of course, there are certain points and combinations that are clinically effective. But whether you decide to use a certain point or not, guasha versus cupping, e-stim, or moxibustion, depends not only upon how you view your patients’ syndrome pattern (to what you attribute their symptoms) but also modalities that you resonate with the most and have had the most therapeutic success. You see, there is no “right” treatment. The only common factor that should exist from practitioner to practitioner is the patients’ differentiation (and this is sometimes up for debate, too). In TCM School you will learn various modalities from various practitioners and parts of the world. In the end, it is up to you to chose your focus and ultimately create a unique set of tools that fit you and your patients. The art form is a reminder that each patient you see, even if the complaints are identical, will need to be treated as their own unique piece of artwork. No two are the same!

2) How to Confront Ego

Along with the varying forms of acupuncture and TCM modalities, inevitably comes ego. Because there is room for a variation of methods when treating a syndrome, and varying forms of success between patients, it is common to feel confused, defensive, or disgruntled when comparing treatment strategies with other practitioners. It is fortunate that as TCM practitioners we do not slap a pill on top of a symptom, but rather view the patient holistically and treat the root cause through various methods. However, it is simultaneously unfortunate how the ego can sometimes lead one to find oneself in an uncomfortable conversation or even argument. In the end, it’s about the acupuncture. It’s about the patient, not the practitioner. TCM School teaches you how to be confident with your own mind and toolbox, while simultaneously respecting that of others.

3) The Importance of Emotions

A lot of us know that stress can make you sick. But it is one factor that is often overlooked when considering the etiology of diseases such as environmental factors, diet, lifestyle, and genetic risk. In TCM School, you will learn that individual emotions correspond with their respective organs. For example, grief correlates with the lung organ and stress or anger correlates with the liver organ. In TCM theory, when one organ becomes overactive with its respective emotion, it can become more vulnerable to external pathogens, decline in function, and even affect other organs. This also relates to western perspectives. The more stressed we are, the larger amounts of cortisol we release, and this in turn affects other hormone levels (and the brain and immune system) resulting in higher risk of developing diseases like diabetes, hypertension, allergies, and depression.

4) Western Medicine is Useful but Can Fail Your Patients

Clinically, biomedicine can often supplement TCM theories wonderfully. More importantly, it allows you to gain an even larger perspective of your patient’s health. In our graduate program at AOMA, about one-third of the courses are biomedicine. You will learn to take vitals, perform physical assessments, read labs, and become familiar with prescription drugs. All of these tools become critical when assessing your patient’s healthcare needs. This is what is incredibly useful about western/biomedicine. However, what you will inevitably encounter in clinic are patients who have been neglected by their primary care. In many settings, the conventional and current medical system has evolved into a quantity rather than quality-based model. Therefore, because we have considerably more time with our patients and the aforementioned biomedical education, we can educate our patients about their diagnosis, labs, and prescriptions so they can discuss any questions or modifications with their primary care. It is our role, as holistic healthcare providers, to educate and give patients autonomy so they can take control of their health. We are also trained to spot red-flags that need immediate referral. 

5) Inevitable Personal Transformation

When you first start as a student at AOMA, it is very exciting. You are making new friends and establishing connections, as well as learning the foundations of Chinese medicine. I only started school about two years ago and have already made large personal transformations, and so have all of my peers. This program immerses you in an environment that challenges and rewards you socially, mentally, and emotionally. Just wait until you start internship in clinic! That is when the real transformations begin. As a student at AOMA, be prepared to dig deep into yourself and find an even deeper meaning of what it means to be you, both as a person and TCM practitioner.

Learn More: Download an Overview of the Master's Program

Topics: acupuncture school, graduate school, tcm school

From Liberal Arts to Acupuncture

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 @ 02:30 PM

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I had just graduated from Austin College in May 2012 when I felt a sense of impending doom. I had completed my bachelor’s degree without deciding what I wanted to do for my career, what I wanted to be now that I was all “grown up”. This was a big deal at the time because I have always been the girl with a plan. I am always thinking about my future goals and what I need to do to accomplish them. Once I walked off the stage of my graduation, I felt that I had a big decision to make, and I wanted to make it quickly.

For a while, I was at a loss for what career I should pursue. I have always wanted to do something that helps people, that makes people’s lives better, but I did not know which career would suit me best. I had gotten my degree in Spanish because I really enjoyed the language and I wanted to travel during school, but I did not really want to be a Spanish teacher or a translator. I could use my Spanish speaking skills in almost any work environment, but I did not want it to be the focus of what I did or what I could offer people. I knew in my heart that I wanted something more.

I thought about my options for a little over a year. I spent some time figuring out who I was and who I wanted to be. At some point, I got tired of being sick all the time.  And even though I went to a liberal arts school and learned a lot, I had never heard of integrative medicine or acupuncture. My undergraduate education taught me to be open-minded and that there were things in the world which I did not understand, but that did not make them any less valid. So I went to an acupuncture clinic on a whim. And as strange and unfathomable as acupuncture was at the time, I am so glad that I chose to try it.

"If I had not taken that leap of faith, I would not be here telling you my story or even getting my master’s degree in oriental medicine."

Growing up, I was constantly developing new illnesses that needed prescriptions from the doctor. Unfortunately, I had not felt much relief of my symptoms working through modern western medicine, so I thought it was time to try something different. By the time I met Dr. Chapa at Valley Ranch Acupuncture in Irving, Texas I was on five different medications. Now, a little over a year later, with the help of acupuncture, herbs, and some hard work of my own, I am symptom free, 40 pounds lighter, off all of my medications, and happier than ever. Being open–minded and willing to try new things, like acupuncture, has deeply influenced my life in a very positive way.

If I had never tried acupuncture, I do not know where I would be now. If I had not taken that leap of faith, I would not be here telling you my story or even getting my master’s degree in oriental medicine.  And acupuncture has not only improved my life, it has improved the lives of my patients. There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that you have made a real impact on someone’s health and life. My patients give me that utmost sense of accomplishment- the handshakes and hugs I get in thanks for listening to them and treating them are the most rewarding part of this life I have chosen. It turns out that the gift of serving others is more rewarding than any work I have done for myself. 

Finally, if I have learned anything from going to school, both at the undergraduate level and now in graduate school here at AOMA, it is that my degree is a stepping stone that I can use to accomplish anything I desire.  When I first sought out acupuncture it was because I wanted to feel healthy. However, in turn, my own quest for health inspired me to show others that they could feel good too. Never be afraid to try something new. Do not worry if people will think you are crazy. Nothing stands in your way in dictating your own life. Do that which you truly desire and what really speaks to your soul; get there as quickly as possible. Trust me, it is worth it. 

 

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture students

The Path to Licensure: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Posted by Justine Meccio on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 @ 02:00 PM

For students considering a career in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it can often be confusing to interpret the landscape of professional licensure for practitioners in the U.S. Though it might seem daunting, developing a clear understanding of the licensure process for acupuncturists before you even begin your studies is an important part of preparing yourself to be successful after graduation.

  1. State Licensure

Just like other medical professions, licensure for acupuncturists is governed on state-by-state basis. Currently, forty-four U.S. states have laws regulating the practice of acupuncture. In most of these states, the laws governing licensure –such as eligibility, and scope of practice - are overseen by the state’s medical boards. Here in Texas, for example, the Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners is responsible for granting licenses to acupuncturists. As a new practitioner, you’ll apply directly to the board in your state for your professional license.

For students entering the field, where they choose to practice can impact their eventual scope of practice. Likewise, the requirements for eligibility and process of applying for licensure may vary from state to state.

If you’re thinking about practicing in a particular state, it’s a good idea to research the scope of practice defined by that state’s regulatory board. You can find a full list of state licensing agencies online.

  1. National Board Exams

Though licensure itself may be regulated at the state level, there are national standards for the practice of acupuncture & Chinese medicine.

In the U.S., an organization named the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), evaluates competency for practitioners seeking to enter the field. The NCCAOM measures competency by administering a set of board exams that, when passed successfully, lead to nationally recognized certification in the following areas: acupuncture, Oriental medicine, Chinese herbs, and Asian bodywork therapy. Of the forty-four states that regulate the practice of acupuncture, all but California require the NCCAOM board certification as a prerequisite for licensure.

As a graduate student in the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program, planning for the board exams is important. Students can choose to wait until after completing their degrees to take all of their board exams, or, choose to take each exam upon completion of the corresponding curriculum area. Preparing for the board exams does require extra study-hours, and students within AOMA’s graduate program prepare for the board exams through free board-prep, or “competencies” classes.

Currently, the pass-rate for AOMA students taking the NCCAOM board exams is 91%. 

  1. Professional Title

Just as the scope of practice may vary somewhat from state-to-state, so does the nomenclature used in professional titles. The most commonly used title is “Licensed Acupuncturist” and you might see this listed as L.Ac. or Lic.Ac. Other states, like New Mexico and Nevada, grant the title of “Doctor of Oriental Medicine” (D.O.M.) to practitioners who have completed a master’s degree. Currently the entry-level degree required for obtaining licensure in each state is currently a master’s degree.

In Texas, completing a doctoral degree program in acupuncture in Oriental Medicine, allows practitioners to add the title “Doctor of Oriental Medicine” to their professional names but does not alter their scope of practice.

If this sounds overwhelming, rest assured. The Registrar’s Office and academic advisors at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine are adept and guiding and assisting graduating students through the process of applying for licensure!

For quick reference, here’s a short overview of the process:

https://magic.piktochart.com/output/6945338-licensure-infographic

Licensure_Infographic

Topics: acupuncture school, licensure, licensed acupuncture

5 tips for Applying to Acupuncture School

Posted by Justine Meccio on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 @ 11:02 AM

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Pursuing a master’s degree in Chinese medicine is a choice that will lead you to a rewarding professional career, one that enables you to have a real impact on the health of people in your community.

Now that you have made the decision to attend acupuncture school, what’s the next step? Your journey will most certainly start with the admissions department!

Check out these handy tips for students applying to the graduate program: 

  1. Connect with admissions before applying.

    Before you apply, it’s a good idea to contact the admissions staff. Not only can they address any questions you have about the admissions requirements, the required application materials, they can even help you decide what term to apply for. It’s important to keep in mind that the admissions staff is here provide guidance during the application process – they’re ready and available to help you!
  1. Apply Early.

    AOMA conducts admissions on a rolling basis, meaning applications are processed individually as they are received. Applying well in advance of the application deadlines ensures that you have plenty of time to gather all of the required application materials. Similarly, by completing the application process as early as possible, you are giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for classes and make your post-acceptance plans.  
  1. Order your transcripts first.

    Official transcripts from your undergraduate education are required as part of the application process. Unfortunately, obtaining official transcripts can take several weeks, potentially extending the length of the application process. To prevent issue, the first step after completing the application form, should be to request official transcripts from your previous school(s) be sent to the AOMA Admissions Office.
  1. Address concerns in your personal statement.

    If you are concerned about factors such as your previous undergraduate GPA, limited experience with health sciences, or anything else that you feel may be relevant to the strength of your application, it’s best to address these issues in a straightforward manner. The personal statement is a wonderful place to do this!
  1. Choose your references wisely.

    As part of the application process, each candidate is required to submit two letters of recommendation. The individuals you select to write these letters on your behalf should be able to address your skills and abilities that are relevant to graduate-level study. Choosing references who can speak to your academic or professional background such as former professors, professional supervisors or colleagues lends strength to overall quality of your application.

With that stated, if you have an author in mind, and you’re not sure whether they’re an appropriate reference, you can always contact the admissions team for guidance.

For more information about applying to acupuncture school, visit AOMA’s website at aoma.edu/admissions or contact the admissions office today!

Begin Your Journey: Apply to AOMA Contact the Admissions Office

Topics: acupuncture school, admissions, acupuncture

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