AOMA Blog

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

Oriental Medicine 101: 5 MORE Reasons to attend Acupuncture School

Posted by Justine Meccio on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 09:58 AM

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Choosing to attend acupuncture school may seem like an unconventional choice, but for the students who choose this path, that’s okay. Completing a master’s degree in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can lead to a rewarding career – one where your personal values are aligned with your professional ambitions.

A Career That Matches Your Values

Many of the students who attend AOMA cite a desire to change the way health care is practiced in the U.S. as a motivating factor behind their decision to study Chinese medicine.  For some, it’s Chinese medicine’s inherently integrative approach – viewing the impacts of physiological, mental, emotional, and environmental factors, as equally important elements in human health – that makes it so different from other systems of care. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many acupuncturists seek out opportunities for professional integration and collaboration with other medical practitioners. For others, the practice of Chinese medicine provides an opportunity to address the health care needs of underserved patient communities and to expand access to genuinely patient-centered care.

Transforming your Life

One of the key themes expressed by students graduating from AOMA is just how truly transformational their experience in the graduate program was. Put quite simply, by the time you graduate from acupuncture school, you won’t be the person you were when you started. You’ll be someone different – a healer.

The decision to become a health care provider isn’t one that is made lightly. It’s often the result of much soul-searching, of listening to that persistent voice whispering of your desire to help others, of a vocation. No matter where you start from – whether it’s a corporate boardroom or undergraduate classroom – when you finish your studies at AOMA, you’ll be a competent, skilled health care professional ready to step out in the world and make a real difference in peoples’ lives. Getting there takes a lot of hard work and personal dedication, but it is this very work and the overcoming of challenges that fosters personal growth.

You’re an Explorer at Heart

Despite its history spanning over two millennia, the prevalence of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in contemporary health care is often considered a relatively “new” phenomenon within western medical communities. While organizations like the World Health Organization recognize the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of dozens of conditions, research into the mechanisms behind why and how acupuncture works is still relatively new within the scientific community. For curious students who always find themselves asking “why”, the field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine provides many avenues to explore uncharted territory and to enhance our understanding of human health and the human body.

You Want to Pay it Forward

Spend even a few minutes in AOMA’s student lounge on the first day of classes, and you’ll most likely overhear a new student talking about the impact acupuncture or Chinese medicine had on their own life. Graduate students often start out as patients – maybe acupuncture was the only form of treatment that provided relief from chronic pain, or maybe qigong helped restore balance to an unsustainable lifestyle, or perhaps acupuncture and herbal medicine even aided in the conception of a first child. Whatever the experience, many students often start out by experiencing the power of this medicine first hand before deciding they want to play a role in ensuring that others can find the same relief and benefit.

Your Social Network will get Bigger

One of the most interesting things about describing a “typical acupuncture student” is how hard it is to do. Students of Chinese medicine come from all walks of life – they’re former nurses, massage therapists, computer programmers, teachers, military veterans, biologists, social workers, yogis, writers, doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, and so much more. Despite these differences, there is a common theme – the desire to help others. Studying Chinese medicine introduces you to not only a new system of medicine – but also a new network of people with whom you can connect and relate to. After a few terms studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine, you might discover yourself feeling at ease amongst a whole new set of peers.

Can you think of another reason you’d like to study Chinese medicine? If so, feel free to leave a comment. To learn more about studying at AOMA, visit: https://aoma.edu/admissions.

Contact Admissions

Topics: acupuncture school, admissions, acupuncture students

Qigong: The Art of Staying Sane during Acupuncture School

Posted by Christina Korpik on Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 04:18 PM

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When I first started acupuncture school at AOMA, qigong was just another required class on the academic docket. It was a mysterious movement therapy and meditative spiritual practice that I had heard about but had never tried myself and wasn’t particularly excited to learn, to be honest. Sure -- I was open-minded and amped up about anything that was a part of my beloved, brand spanking new venture into a healing arts education. I can’t, however, say that I came to AOMA knowing enough about qigong to be thrilled about beginning a regular practice of it. Sure, it was reputed to be incredibly stress-relieving and relaxing...but it was also more credits to be earned in an excruciatingly long four year long program. Little did I then realize how crucial qigong would eventually become to support- my well-being in grad school, and more notably, my sanity.

As aspiring professionals in the field of the healing arts, we as students sometimes forget how the medicine we are engaging with requires us to become caretakers, to consistently be placing our time, energy and resources into helping others feel stronger, healthier, better, more joyful and balanced. This makes it extra important for us to be on top of our own self-care and ensure we are, ourselves, exceptionally healthy, strong, balanced and joyful. Because if we don’t embody these qualities, how can we model them to others?

Unfortunately, massively busy schedules and expected graduate school stressors, including hours and hours of memorizing foreign material such as tedious locations of tiny, specific acupuncture points and long lists of unpronounceable herb names certainly are not conducive to keeping us calm, stress-free and balanced. In fact, I can say in full disclosure that I have seen many a student panic under pressure and nearly run in the opposite direction from the stressors of this graduate program (myself included, ahem).

However, all breakdowns aside, the end rewards of completing the program are without a doubt, worth every ounce of personal challenge. Despite the multi-dimensional benefits of the profound personal growth that seems to be a necessary side-dish of enrollment at AOMA, it’s true that we as students need to continually be seeking outlets that ground us, help us nourish ourselves, release stress and calm our minds enough that we can continually revisit the magic of studying this medicine thoroughly despite the chaotic challenges that may surface along the journey.

One of these outlets that I accidentally stumbled upon was qigong -- and to this day it has become one of my primary anchors through this program. Initially I experienced resistance to it, I’ll admit...mostly because at the beginning of the program, I was so exhausted from the intense mental workouts that left me feeling like I would rather skip this “mandatory” class and just sleep more. The self-sabotaging aspects of laziness and burnout crept up on me more than once, but then something happened one day in my qigong class: I relaxed into what I was doing, pushed past the resistance and allowed for moving of the energy in my body in ways which felt incredibly healing and not the least bit tiring. I left the class feeling massively energized and WAY loosened up. Liver qi stagnation, be gone! I had renewed vigor and excitement for being in my academic classes and learning (aka, memorizing away until my brain exploded), my body felt stronger and healthier, and I felt noticeably more FULL: full of vibrant life force energy and more capable of caring for my clients from that place instead of from the droopy place of total burnout.

So that’s what truly sold me -- it wasn’t the proclaimed or advertised benefits of the practice, it was the undeniable personal experience with this ancient art that led to me being able to maximize and master my own energy in a myriad of ways, subsequently allowing me to be a better, more grounded, embodied (and mentally stable!) practitioner for my patients (and, simply put, a better person in general). Qigong helps me calm my nerves and emotions, it helps break apart any stagnation that accumulates from hours of sitting in cold classrooms, it allows me to tap into the qi from nature and the Universe in powerful ways which feed me and refill the places that get drained consistently from being a student and a busy, active woman with many a ball to juggle. It helps me come back into and connect to MYSELF: and this is a crucial task for anyone that is holding space for others on a daily basis, or learning to step into that role in their lives.

Not convinced or feeling the magic yet? Maybe you just need to find the right qigong form that is a good match for YOUR body and your needs, and there are so many of them that you won’t find a shortage of options to choose from. We learn a limited selection here at AOMA, but I have gone on to find some incredibly potent forms outside of what we are taught in the dojo that have become absolute necessities in my daily self-care regimens. And sure -- there are still some days where I am too tired to do much of anything, and that’s okay too. However, when I push past the hesitation and the excuses my mind feeds me and spend even 10 to 15 minutes in moving meditation, I absolutely never regret doing so.

One helpful resource to check out is the Qigong Institute:

Here is the list of AOMA’s qigong community classes in Austin,TX, for students interested in juicing up their practices outside of class requirements: https://aoma.edu/continuing-education/community-classes/qigong-classes/

To learn more about our Master's program here at AOMA, download the overview below:

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

Topics: qigong, acupuncture students

Acupuncture Student's First Clinical Experience

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Fri, May 08, 2015 @ 03:26 PM

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When I first came to AOMA in Austin to attend acupuncture school, I was thrilled. Yet, I have always been anxious about this day - I am about to go into my first clinic as a treating acupuncture intern. I am writing this only a few hours before I go into clinic. I am nervous, excited, and slightly nauseous. I've finally arrived at the day that I will meet a complete stranger and put acupuncture needles in them! This is what all oriental medicine students have been waiting for!

My only hope is that I can help someone. It is all a little nerve-wracking to have patients' care in my hands for the first time. Everyone in my cohort has been praying this week to only get patients with local qi and blood stagnation because it is supposed to be the easiest to treat. Please, please don't let me get a chief complaint of cataracts or really anything to do with someone's eyes. I don't know if I am ready treat such a sensitive area, although, I guess when the time comes I will have to be ready. It’s a good thing there are supervisors and residents there to assist me.

For those of you who are observing in clinic right now you might notice that some of your interns are doing their best but are very anxious. And you know what? That is perfectly alright. It is okay if you have to double check your school materials. I am going to have to do that plenty myself. Chinese medicine is complicated after all. Let's not forget that acupuncture is an art form; there is no one right way. If you don't happen to remember where a point is located or what energetics it has, don't fret too much. As acupuncture students, we are supposed to be learning right now. Mistakes will happen, but don't think it's the end of the world. The great part is, even if you don't do everything right, you are still making a huge difference in the lives of your patients. At least that's what I am telling myself right now. Wish me luck!

Learn more about Acupuncture  & Herbal Medicine

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture students

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