AOMA Blog

Anne Cusick: AOMA Alum Turned Faculty

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 @ 04:26 PM

Anne Cusick AOMA Acupuncture Faculty

Anne Cusick is one of AOMA's Master's program professors, teaching Acupuncture Techniques 2In addition to maintaining her private clinical practice, she is active in the local integrative medicine community, where she works collaboratively with a family medicine doctor to deliver comprehensive patient care. Since graduating from AOMA, she specializes in pain management, stress relief, digestive health, and the treatment sleep disorders in her practice. In addition to her studies at the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, she has also completed extensive training in Shen-Hammer Pulse Diagnosis and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. Anne is also one of the most beloved clinic supervisors by her students!

We caught up with Anne to find out more about getting into Chinese medicine, and the transition from study, to practice, to teaching!

When did you graduate?  April 2008.

When did you start working at AOMA? January 2014.

What’s your favorite thing about AOMA? The people.

Why did you decide to teach at AOMA?

Being a student at AOMA was one of the highlights of my path thus far.  To be a part of AOMA again was a blessing.

What’s your favorite part of teaching Chinese medicine?

The history, where the tools, philosophies and techniques emerged from and how they have transcended through the years.

What is a favorite book or favorite quote of yours, and why?  

One of my favorites is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It has great insights on balance.

What advice would you give to new acupuncturists?  

Plant roots. Choose a community you would love to work in, and help nurture it.   

What’s your favorite thing about living in Austin?

The micro and macro communities. It is possible to find something you love in Austin and easy to find people whom share the same interests. 

Want to learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA? Schedule a campus tour and sit in on a class with us!

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Topics: alumni spotlight, alumni, faculty spotlight

Alumni Spotlight: Tio Bustillo

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 12:42 PM

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Tio Bustillo, LAc, graduated from AOMA’s Master’s program in 2011 and currently is enrolled in the Doctoral program. Since graduating, Tio has been a big part of the movement to incorporate Chinese medicine into the Western healthcare system. Tio was hired to join the Integrative Medicine Department at Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, one of Texas’ largest non-profit healthcare systems. Through this position, he has been able to collaborate and work with some of the leading physicians and medical specialists in Texas. Tio is leading the charge to create even more new jobs for acupuncturists in the hospital system and also helping to provide substantial and meaning research for Chinese medicine.

Below is a brief interview with Tio:

What made you decide to study acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

Truthfully, it was never on my radar. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started. One day I was walking into Half-Price Books searching for several fitness references. While I was thumbing through a book I heard a ‘thud’ behind me. A random book had fallen off the shelf. I figured it was meant to be, so I purchased it for $7.98, plus tax. It was The Web That Has No Weaver. I went to a local coffee shop and started to read a little. Soon after, I visited AOMA and was enrolled the following week. Years later, I am still learning and practicing.

What are some of your top accomplishments since graduating?

One of my top accomplishments is being part of the Integrative Medicine Department of Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, one of Texas’ largest non-profit healthcare systems. I have been able to collaborate and work with some of the leading physicians & specialist in Texas. I feel like I am truly integrating Eastern & Western medicine and proving that it is possible. Even more helping my industry by creating more jobs and awareness in the medical community.

Why did you chose to continue on with doctoral studies at AOMA?

I decided to do the doctoral program because I feel like this will give me the credentials needed to create a strong and successful integrative medicine department within a large healthcare system. Even more, learning new methods and treatment strategies is something that I feel one has to do in order to become a well-rounded practitioner.

What did your AOMA education mean to you/prepare you for?

“One of the most impactful lessons that I learned during my time at AOMA was self-reflection and self-transformation.” – Tio Bustillo

I think AOMA gave me a strong foundation to become a Doctor of Acupuncture & Chinese medicine. This allows me to grow in any direction. One of the most impactful lessons that I learned during my time at AOMA was self-reflection and self-transformation. Your limits are truly tested, but there is personal growth that you don’t expect to happen. In the end this transformation makes someone a better health care provider.

What is your vision for your career moving forward?

I see myself being a leader in the Integrative Medicine Department at Baylor Scott & White Healthcare creating new jobs for my industry and providing substantial research for Chinese Medicine. 

What advice would you give to recent graduates about to enter the field professionally?

Your journey as a health care provider is not over. It just started. My advice is to find someone who you admire as a practitioner and learn as much as you can. Then practice what you have learned. Secondly, treat as many patients as you can. There is a big difference between theory and clinical experience. Lastly, become comfortable with Western medicine principles because you need to evolve as a practitioner and with the industry standards.

AOMA is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. What is your fondest memory of your studies here?

My fondest memory of AOMA was when I first walked into the AOMA store at the North campus. It used to be near the front parking lot where the dermatology clinic is currently located. I walked in as a first year student and headed towards the back of the store where they kept all the herbs. The smell of was over powering to the senses. I stood there looking up, then down, across and back. I was excited that I was going to know each and every one of these herbs and how they affect the body. I am still amazed that I learned and retained so much information about herbal pharmacology. Happy Anniversary to my friends and family at AOMA!

For other AOMA alumni stories, click here: AOMA Alumni Stories

Learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA:

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: alumni spotlight, alumni

Chinese Medicine for Men’s Health, Alumni Spotlight with Lisa Lapwing

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Jul 05, 2017 @ 01:47 PM

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AOMA alumni Lisa Lapwing, MAcOM, LAc, practices in South East Austin, near South Park Meadows at Whole Health Acupuncture. Lisa’s practice focuses on men’s health, using Reiki and her knowledge as a personal trainer to compliment her acupuncture practice. In this blog post Lisa shares insights into her first introduction to the medicine, what led her to study Chinese medicine, how she approaches her own practice, and her vision for the future of integrative care.

What did you study before coming to AOMA?  A number of things beginning with graphic and web design, but ultimately landed on kinesiology and became a personal trainer, which I still consider myself.

What was your first introduction to acupuncture and how did you feel about it?  I have scoliosis and degenerative disk disease and was having terrible back pain around 2003. I worked at a health club where a chiropractor suggested that I try acupuncture. I had been a martial artist and a fan of cheesy martial arts movies for some time so I was familiar with what acupuncture was. I found an acupuncturist near Chicago, where I lived at the time and it changed my life! The various things I had done to try to manage my back pain never came close to providing the relief acupuncture did. I also was having menstruation problems around this time, which we attended to as well and acupuncture helped with that 100%.

When did you become interested in studying oriental medicine and why?  Around 2005 I was crawling around the floor with a personal training client while my body was screaming at me "why do you keep doing this!?” My knees hurt, my back and neck hurt! Right then I realized, I can't be doing this much longer. I was working 8-10 clients a day and that was destroying my body, on top of doing my own vigorous daily workouts. Doing acupuncture immediately came to mind as it had previously helped me so much – and I had many clients that had similar conditions that I could help only so much with just helping them on the gym room floor. I wanted to do more for them and myself! 

What made you choose AOMA as your school and/or shift your career focus to come to AOMA?  After spending about a year soul searching regarding my future, looking up numerous acupuncture schools online, I headed to Austin to check out AOMA. I loved Austin and AOMA! At the time, it was still a nice and small town with a lot of charm and it was still affordable. I'd always wanted out of the Chicago winters and the weather here had a large impact on my decision as well. I spent the next year putting my ducks in a row and enrolled in 2007.

What were some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?  I absolutely loved Foundations of TCM, Energetics and Point Location! Later, I did fall in love with Herbal Treatment of Disease. I don't think it's fair to say I had a "favorite" teacher as everyone who gave me this gift was important and impactful in various ways. I felt I resonated deeply with Dr. Wu, Dr. Shen, Dr. Song and Dr. Cone. 

What was your first job after graduating from AOMA?   I had already been personal training at UT RecSports and continued to do that as I was opening my practice, Whole Health Acupuncture, and then for about one year after my doors opened. Once I obtained my license (3 months after I graduated) I started seeing patients immediately. In that time, I talked up my coming practice to all of my clients, friends and family. It did help me get a few people in the door right away. 

When did you realize you were interested in specializing in men’s health?  I almost immediately gravitated towards men's health. I had male patients for other issues who, after becoming comfortable with me, would mention, some of their sexual health concerns too. I then noticed that no one I knew was approaching men's health, for whatever health conditions they maybe be experiencing, sexual or not, with the male mind and body specifically in mind. A lot of practitioners work with women's health from menstruation to fertility issues but I couldn't find anyone doing the same for men.

What kind of conditions do you treat within men's health? I treat erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, BPH, prostatitis, prostate cancer symptoms, Peyronie's disease, frequent or painful urination, painful genitals, pelvic floor dysfunction, PTSD and psycho-emotional disorders, to name a few.

What is it like treating men's health? It's amazing! It's very involved and there's a lot to learn. It's extremely rewarding! Anytime a patient improves, it's a wonderful thing. Often, men are given a pill or the boot being told "there's nothing else we can do" and this is crushing for them. Especially, since there IS something that can be done for their varying issues. Of course, as with anything else, it comes with its challenges, from patients who are looking for something other than acupuncture to patients who don't see improvement "quick enough."

What is the one thing that you wish other people knew about what you do?  That I have been a personal trainer since 2002 and am able to offer patients exercise, stretching, and diet advice and programs, as well as immediate on-the-table care.

If you were to give yourself another job title, what would it be? Other than Acupuncturist, Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

When do you do your best work? I do my best work when I'm busiest with back to back patients. I'm focused with my head in the care game. I have a lot of qi flowing through me that helps me tune into, heal, and understand my patients more deeply.

If you were a TCM organ, which one would you be and why? Heart, I'm fiery, passionate and an open, loving and compassionate person! 

What vision would you like to see for the future of healthcare?  This is a difficult question to answer. There's a lot of components of our current healthcare system that need to be changed. I do believe in the integration of all medicines. To keep my answer relatively simple, I think everyone should have easy, affordable access to every type of healthcare from Oriental medical care to massage to surgery, dental, and everything else in-between. In my personal and professional lives, I have seen and experienced that not everyone responds to various treatments equally. Some people respond incredibly to acupuncture, some just do not. I'm ok with that! But it doesn't mean I don't think they shouldn't be able to easily find what works for them. I've tried to build my referral network so that I can help my patients find other solutions to their issues, if I'm not it. I can't do that if a referral is required from an insurance company to see a specific practitioner, that bothers me. Hopefully, we can get to the point where medical care, in all of its forms, is a reality for all!

Any best-practice tips for future practitioners? I have so many! Here are a few:  Listen deeply to your patients rather than thinking right away "oh this is where I'm going to needle them for that." You'll pick up on a lot more of what's going on with them then they are telling you. Be open but don't drop your boundaries, people are quick to take advantage, even if they don't know it. If you choose to do men's health, you have to be very comfortable talking about men's genitals and sex, in which case, keep things very clinical and straightforward. If you’re not comfortable, be honest with them about it and refer them out. Referring out isn't a bad thing. Not every patient is going to mesh with you and that's ok. Remember, everyone makes mistakes; don't take it too hard if you make one as long as you learn from it. Don't spread yourself too thin, you can't care for others if you’re not taken care of. Don't forget who you are and how you got here – practice with that gratitude always in mind. 

How can we get in touch with you or follow you? Anyone can email or call me with questions, comments, or concerns! All the information is on my website and many other places on the internet, Google, Yelp, etc.

Whole Health Acupuncture: www.whole-healthacupuncture.com,

Contact Lisa:

Lisa Lapwing DOM (FL), LAc (TX)
Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine 
Chinese Herbalist
Reiki Practitioner
Personal Trainer
708-707-0383
 
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Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, men's health, acupuncture

Catching Up With Ashley Oved, Acupuncturist, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Nov 04, 2015 @ 11:57 AM

On Thursday, October 15, AOMA Alumni Ashley Oved presented “Acupuncture in the Integrative Hospital”, a Brown Bag Lecture about her experience in the increasingly common practice of acupuncture in an integrative hospital.

We caught up with Ashley to ask her a few questions about her life at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and how she felt her education at AOMA helped prepare her for the challenges she faces each day. 

What does a typical work day look like for you at the hospital?

There are two acupuncturists at this location and we each treat between 9-14 patients a day. It’s a fast paced environment but quite manageable. We treat most of our patients in the Outpatient Clinic but we also treat patients in the Intensive Care Unit or will visit them when they are receiving chemotherapy in the Infusion Center. Just recently, we’ve started Group Acupuncture twice a week which has been a huge success. Our patients really love acupuncture, so there is rarely a dull moment around here.

Do you feel like your training at AOMA adequately prepared you for work in an integrated environment? 

I really do! Working at Seton Topfer and Austin Recovery gave me a ton of experience. Austin Recovery intimidated me so much the first couple of weeks (shout out to Claudia Voyles for being my pillar of strength) but it was probably the best clinic I ever had at AOMA. It exposed me to a different patient population and prepared me for leading Group Acupuncture here at CTCA.  The information I learned in the Physical Assessment classes has also come in handy.  The first time I saw “No Babinski, Negative Romberg” on a patient’s chart I thought, “I know what that means! 

Any advice for current students or alum who are interested in working in an environment like CTCA?

It’s a good idea to focus in on a specialty.  Whether it’s pediatrics, oncology, or fertility it really is up to you. Get some books on what interests you, or take some online CEU’s. Having that leg up gives you an advantage when applying to jobs.  But truly my best advice is to just go out and apply. The clinical experience you gain in the student clinic has prepared you more than you know. You don’t have to be the greatest acupuncturist that has ever lived. You just have to be confident in yourself and your abilities. If you continue to learn new techniques and keep up to date on the latest studies, you will be well on your way.  There are many hospitals that already incorporate acupuncture into their model of care, and many more on the verge of it. So don’t get discouraged! There are definitely jobs out there.

To learn more about the Student & Career Services’ Brown Bag Lecture Series check out our website.

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: efficacy of acupuncture, acupuncture, licensed acupuncture, cancer treatment, alumni

AOMA Alumni Veteran Spotlight: Sean Hanna

Posted by Christina Korpik on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 @ 11:57 AM

Sean Hanna, LAc, MAcOM
Class of 2005Acupuncturist Sean Hanna

Military Branch: US Navy
Rank: Hospital Corpsman Second Class (FMF)
Years Served: 8

What prompted you to return to school?

I was still in the Navy when I decided to begin studying TCM.  Stationed at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, I visited Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and immediately found a fascination for TCM.  Eastern philosophy had provided me with much comfort during my naval career and I was overjoyed to discover a medicine aligned with such a worldview.

Why did you choose AOMA?

Due to the death of my step-father in 2002, I needed to return to Texas in order to be closer to my family.  While at PCOM, I had heard of AOMA and the strength of the program, so I chose to transfer to AOMA to continue my studies.

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

While still on active duty, I utilized the Navy Tuition Assistance program to help with the cost at PCOM.  Upon exiting service, I began using my Montgomery GI Bill at PCOM and exhausted those benefits finishing at AOMA.

What has your experience been like as a student and/or alumnus?

combat medic acupunctureComing from a Western medicine practice in the Navy as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman, the transition to the Eastern medicine view posed some difficulty.  For the first couple of years, I tended to attempt translation in my mind to figure out how acupuncture "really" works. Through the guidance of the excellent professors at AOMA, I was able to finally separate the two medicines in my mind and take a beginner's mind approach to TCM.

Finding peers that I could relate to also posed challenges.  My experiences as a combat field medic left me with a perspective that did not fit easily with my cohort in school.  It took a lot of personal work, on my part, to find common ground rooted in the study of TCM with my fellow students.  Being a combat veteran with almost nine years of service, married father of two boys and full time student was not the typical demographic.  I made some lifelong friends, however, I never truly felt that I belonged.  I know now, through my work in service to Texas' veterans and their families, that my situation was not unique and only wish I had made more veteran connections in the community earlier and learned that there are people and services from which I could have benefited.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?

Connect with veteran service organizations and remain involved with the local veteran community.  I believed my military service was in my past and was blind to how those years had affected me and were continuing to influence my life.  I believe my path could have been much smoother had I known how my service continued to be a part of who I am.

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

Upon gaining licensure, I opened a private practice clinic with Jacob Godwin, one of my fellow students and friend.  I struggled to make connections with potential patients in the community.  I still had the mindset of a combat medic, and mistakenly missed out on many opportunities to serve my community through my own ignorance.

A typical example is a potential patient would inquire my advice concerning trying acupuncture.  If the condition was not limiting their functioning, I would dissuade them spending money seeking treatment.  I would recommend lifestyle/choice changes and leave it at that.  Needless to say, my clinic did not remain open when the lease expired.

I then decided to turn my attention toward the veteran community and almost immediately doors began to open.  I joined up with other veterans and advocates to serve the veteran community, and together, we began developing volunteer treatment opportunities for veterans and their families that they otherwise could not afford or may not even know existed.  I found a potential patient population that had a similar worldview to my own and we spoke the same language.  I appreciated the opportunity to expose the veteran culture to a medicine and worldview completely different from one they had previously experienced. Within a short time, I accepted a position at a local counseling center, integrating TCM with clinical counseling services.  I have learned to meet the patient where they are, without judgment, and treat them accordingly.  Working to serve the veteran and family community, in direct patient care, and eventually program development and expansion, has afforded me the joy of seeing patients get relief when they thought none was to be had and provided me with continuous opportunities to serve.

Watch video interview with Sean

 

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, veteran affairs

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

Alumni Advice for Graduating Acupuncture Students

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 @ 11:11 AM

Overwhelmed trying to figure out how to start an Oriental medicine practice? Here are some tips from AOMA alumni!*

While you are in school:

Prepare early

Take your board exams before you graduate

Get licensed quickly after finishing boards

Develop a business plan during practice management class

Start developing marketing materials

Launch your website before graduation

Plan your career

Investigate different locations for your future practice (states, cities, venues) Consider specializing in something (ex. style of practice, specific patient demographic, type of condition(s), etc.)

Participate in an internship, externship, or apprenticeship (ex. AOMA’s Practice Management Fieldwork Program)

Consider a job on a cruise ship – it’s a great way to gain experience and travel!

Form relationships with your patients in the student clinic to build your future patient base

Find a successful mentor and pick their brain!

Get connected, join a networking group

Build a financial foundation

Set aside money for starting up your practice

Minimize student loan debt and understand the different repayment options

Forecast startup costs for your practice, including funding, insurance, advertising, etc.

Keep your day job as you build your practice to earn extra income

Learn Quickbooks or other basic accounting skills

Research pricing for treatments so you can charge enough for your services

 

After You Graduate:

Hone your business & professional skills

Buy a point of sale system to handle financial transactions

Consider selling supplements and herbs to boost your practice’s income

Consider offering adjunct techniques to patients like medical qigong, bodywork

Outline clear treatment plans so patients know what to expect

Continue to work on your bed-side manners to improve the patient experience Provide patient & community education

Volunteer in your community for extra visibility

Find a market coach if you need extra help with outreach

Practice a lot; start seeing as many patients as possible, as soon as possible

Make time for self-care

Take kidney tonics to keep your energy-level up 

Get acupuncture

Practice mind-body techniques to handle stress

 

General advice:

Start small & grow (be patient it will take time)

Take a vacation/time off after graduation – you might need the break!

Commit to life-long learning and more Oriental medicine techniques – never stop improving

Be passionate about TCM!

 

*Advice compiled from 2013 alumni survey.

Careers in Acupuncture: Download free eBook!

Topics: student services, alumni, practice management

Neoclassical Pulse Diagnosis Built My Confidence and Patient Outcomes

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 09:43 AM

At a recent gathering, a friend mentioned having knee pain. I quickly assessed it using neoclassical pulse diagnosis techniques and by palpating the location of the pain. Afterward, I found and applied four acupressure points with press-on seeds. As a result his knee felt much better throughout the party and the following days.

By using neoclassical pulse diagnosis in a clinical setting (meaning with further investigation and time), I am able to confidently provide my patients with efficient care for myriad health concerns, including pain, pyscho-social issues, insomnia, energy loss, hormonal imbalances, and digestive issues.

Having success in the clinic is a result of applying the techniques taught in Dr. William Morris’ neoclassical pulse series and training with him as an intern in his clinical rotations.

In Will Morris’ neoclassical pulse courses I learned how to assess a patient’s radial pulses as a diagnostic tool and immediate feedback loop. This feedback loop is invaluable in creating confidence in the practitioner, treating quickly and effectively while obtaining great clinical outcomes, and in maintaining my own health. Successfully using neoclassical-style pulse diagnostics created confidence in me as a practitioner.

neoclassical pulse series, will morris, continuing acupuncture education

During my treatments on patients I am able to monitor my patient’s pulse as it changes. As my patient’s pulse becomes more balanced and level, I know I have chosen a good course of treatment.

Neoclassical pulse diagnosis is also a great tool for assessing and treating on the go, because you can quickly evaluate the pulse, apply a few acupressure seeds, and still get great results. Learning to use the pulse as a feedback loop in clinical settings creates high-quality, efficient patient care.

Yet it isn’t just for patients. In fact, I find myself evaluating my pulse and applying indicated acupressure points.  This daily self-care ritual takes seconds and is a great way to stay healthy, emotionally balanced, and pain free.  

I am honored to have trained with Dr. Morris, and will continue to attend his classes and online teachings, as he provides invaluable insight into the world of patient-centered care. I highly recommend his neoclassical pulse series to all students interested in expanding their acupuncture and diagnostic repertoire.

anne cusick, neoclassical pulse diagnosisAnne Cusick LAc, MAcOM graduated from AOMA in 2008 and is in current practice with Dr. Clark-Brown at a family care integrated clinic, specializing in pain management. www.cusickacupuncture.com

 


 

 

continuing acupuncture education, integrative health CE

Topics: continuing education, alumni, pulse diagnosis, Dr. William Morris

5 Practice Management Concepts for Acupuncturists

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 @ 02:10 PM

Gregory Carey is the president of the AOMA Alumni Association. In the latest alumni newsletter he introduces practice management concepts that he believes to be crucial for a successful practice.

1. Join an insurance network. 

acupuncture insuranceBy contracting with a medical insurance carrier (e.g., United Healthcare, Horizon, Cigna, etc.), you are joining a medical referral network. Each insurance carrier introduces a proprietary fee structure for its participating healthcare providers. Becoming familiar with electronic billing practices is an essential, though not overly difficult, skill for the rendering provider. Developing a business relationship with a third-party insurance clearinghouse such as Office Ally is advisable and will create efficiencies for your practice.

2. Join a healthcare group or existing practice.

Especially for new practitioners who are capital-deficient, this step is attractive. Cultivating relationships with other practitioners in the medical field may create opportunities for business relationships to develop. Some acupuncture students have found employment by leveraging a front-office position into full-time practitioner status after obtaining licensure. 

3. Locate to an underserved population center.

This step can seem a daunting undertaking, though the rewards include reduced competition for patient visits. Furthermore, existing medical providers in the area may be eager to refer to a competent acupuncture provider. Upon making a decision as to your practice location, make every attempt to put in place a long-term operational strategy. The personal and professional relationships that you form over the years will pay dividends – if you are still around to receive them.

community acupuncture clinic4. Create a "disruptive" business model.

To increase your competitive advantage, you may want to consider a Community Acupuncture model. There are a number of AOMA Alumni who have chosen a community-based practice set-up. Fellow Alumni may be helpful in sharing practical know-how regarding community-style operations. Community-style acupuncture is one permutation of the healthcare delivery aspect of this business. It’s up to each of us in the field to understand what our respective healthcare markets are asking for and to deliver that product to our clients.   

5. Develop relationships with vendors.

Many are competing for your business consideration, including clinical, herbal, topical, and supplement suppliers. It is not difficult to find another practitioner promoting an herbal or wellness supplement as part of their business. Indeed, some Alumni have created their own product lines! Be discerning when choosing a vendor for your clinic. Ultimately, your patients will be the judge of the products you serve them. If you choose your vendors and products wisely, you have the potential for passive revenue generation, increased referrals, and patient compliance.

 

The above is not intended to be a comprehensive study of items related to practice management. My intention in writing was to communicate some basic considerations relevant to the practicing acupuncturist and to hopefully generate productive discussion. 

For further reading on business innovation, please see:  

Johnson, Mark, Christensen, Clayton, et al. (2008). Reinventing Your Business Model. Harvard Business Review, December 2008.

About the author

Greg Carey, aoma alumni, practice managmentGregory holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Richmond and obtained his Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. Gregory holds a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine from NCCAOM and is licensed by the New Jersey State Medical Board in acupuncture. His professional background is in research oncology and pharmaceutical trials, teaching and not for profit organizations.

Over the past 6 years Gregory has specialized in Oriental Medicine, including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Tuina and Qigong for the successful treatment of a wide variety of conditions.  He is experienced in facial rejuvenation through acupuncture, including the Mei Zen Facial Rejuvenation System. He is a Manalapan, NJ native and is happy to serve surrounding New Jersey communities. His personal interests include the practice of Qigong, Yang Style Tai Ji, Mandarin Chinese, classical literature, hiking and New York Jets football.

Topics: alumni, practice management

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