AOMA Blog

Alumni Spotlight: Rachelle Lambert, LAc, 2009 AOMA Graduate

Posted by Nicole Fillion-Robin on Sat, May 18, 2019 @ 01:02 AM

Rachelle Lambert, LAc is the owner and founder of RA Harmony Asian Medicine.  She is also the Unit Coordinator and Research Team Lead for the Colorado Acupuncture Medical Reserve Corps.

What was your education and experience prior to AOMA?Rachelle 2-1

I joined the 4 year MAOM program at AOMA in 2005. Pursuing acupuncture and Chinese herbs is the first career path in my life. I completed my graduation requirements for high school on the memorable date of September 11th, 2001. After high school I attended Austin Community College to receive the perquisites needed to join AOMA.

Tell us about your journey to AOMA, what led you to Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine?

I was born and raised in Austin, TX. My entire life I wanted to be an archaeologist, but one day I had some friends talk about acupuncture treatments at a local acupuncture college (AOMA) and it dawned on me that was the career path I was meant to pursue. Of course, once I started internship during the program it was super rewarding to use ancient medicine to help people feel better. Even though I never became an archaeologist, becoming an acupuncturist allowed me plenty of opportunities to enjoy archaeology!

What did you learn at AOMA that you use everyday in The Real World?

The training I received at AOMA is invaluable. Patients in Colorado tell me all the time how unique and comprehensive my training is. Working in the field I find it valuable to have skills in various styles of acupuncture, pulse diagnosis, and having knowledge of scalp and auricular acupuncture.

In everyday life, I forget to practice my qi gong and tai chi on a regular basis, but when I am in the field of emergency management I use it everyday. It helps me stay my best for the people I am supporting. When I am at FEMA training at the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland, often times the class has had me guide the class in tai chi warm-ups and qi gong meditation exercises. Everyone wants to learn it when they see me doing it, and I find it hysterical that I am teaching mind-body techniques to groups of emergency managers at FEMA. It helps to remind them to take time for self-care. And during my deployment to Puerto Rico this was a great tool to teach the community to support their resilience.

Your work in emergency response is outstanding, how did you get involved in this work?

I have always dreamed of offering acupuncture to global communities did not have the opportunity to experience acupuncture. I feel my love of emergency management started during my time working on cruise ships as an acupuncturist where I learned extensively about the US Coast Guard laws and regulations. They are thorough and very strict the procedures intended to save lives. No matter your position, as a ship crew member you are required to train and drill weekly so all hands-on deck would be available during an emergency. As an acupuncturist, I learned how to fight fires with a fire hose, close water tight doors, stabilize frantic passengers, lower life boats and jump down a chute into a life boat, and help pull others from the sea into a lifeboat, to ensure survival. It was incredible to me that regardless of your background anyone can be trained to make a difference and save lives. In addition, I learned the valuable skill of speaking/communicating in a way that even non-English speakers can understand.

What would you like everyone to know about you, your interests, passions, hobbies, etc?

Since I was 3 years old, I have practiced origami and it became a valuable skill during deployment to support both Hurricane Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017. Knowing qi gong and tai chi also became valuable. These tools have saved my body and mind during all of my emergency deployments both domestic and international. They stabilize me as an emergency responder and allow me the chance to re-boot and remain 100% so I can be my best for the communities I support. They also are skills easily taught to others, providing them the ability to cope with extremely stressful situations.


Rachelle 2

Please share anything else you would like about yourself and your work.

I moved to Colorado in 2014 during the first year of creation of the Colorado Acupuncture Medical Reserve Corps. Today if you want to be integrated into a disaster response in a professional way, a responder must be trained in Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System(NIMS) to speak a common language and offer a structure for response that is evidence based.

Captain Rob Tossato created the Medical Response Corps (MRC) program to vet and train volunteers before a disaster occurs. This includes; verifying credentials, background checks, and ensuring a smooth system to organize volunteers and ensure safety for everyone involved. This reduces the chaos that comes with disaster situations. With the Medical Reserve Corps, program volunteers have the opportunity to train and drill with a team, are included in networking opportunities and exercises with many agencies involved in emergency response, practice skills ahead of time, establish critical relationships, allow for official request for deployment, and participate in healthcare coalitions.

I became the volunteer leader of the Colorado Acupuncture MRC in 2016 and have worked hard with my team to create buy-in from the leaders of all national MRC teams. We have led by example, and our work recognized and published. We authored the Acupuncture Mission Ready Package, and created the first pilot research study exploring the feasibility and acceptability of acupuncture in emergency management (funded by a grant I authored with the National Association of City and County Health Officials).

For the last three years, the work we have done has created buy-in with many leaders throughout the nation and allowed acupuncturists to join these teams on a nation-wide scale for the first time. My goal is to make our profession a paid deployable position with FEMA. I plan to infiltrate the system and continue extensive training to continue in my second career as an emergency manager with FEMA.

What agencies do you work with? Is it typically a paid contractor gig or volunteer work? 

The first thing I want to express with the acupuncture profession as a whole is that this is volunteer work. We need to spearhead the movement of volunteer culture in the acupuncture profession, as I see it flowing in other healthcare professions. It is hard work, but so rewarding, and someone has to do it. As far as I know there are no paid acupuncture positions in the world of emergency management... yet! We have to start somewhere and volunteering to get the resource out there in the world is the best way to educate the global population in this valuable resource.

Remember, the acupuncture profession just got an occupational code, we have just started our work in national and global recognition. So far the VA is the only organization I know of that pays acupuncturists as part of government.

In my personal opinion, we can make a huge influence by joining federal and state approved teams. Remember: infiltrate the system! These teams are the most influential during an emergency response, they are the ones who are officially requested, and they follow guidelines of preventing self-deployment (meaning you don't show up to a disaster unless you are called upon by an authority). 

Which organizations do you recommend students look into if they are thinking of doing this kind of work?

If considering this line of work in your future, please stay professional and understand the world of emergency management - never show up to an incident unless you have been officially requested (this is known as self-deploying and can be damaging to trust in the acupuncture profession). There are so many things happening in an emergency, it is not the time to start your education and networking as an acupuncturist. People coordinating the disaster have lives to save, and are going through a lot of stress themselves.

The best time to do your networking and education on the resource is when a disaster is not happening. Make your connections and build your teams ahead of time. You can make a lot of influence if you can participate in drills, have networking events such as provide treatments to fire departments, public health departments, offices of emergency management, and participate in local healthcare coalitions. If you know a person ahead of time, you trust them, and you know what they are capable of doing, you will be called into the field during a disaster and make the most influence.

Teams I have found as a good place to start would be the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Team Rubicon, and the American Red Cross. I am currently a registered volunteer with the Colorado Acupuncture MRC, Colorado STAR MRC, MRC of Puerto Rico, Team Rubicon, and the American Red Cross.

When were you last called to serve as an acupuncturist? How long did you stay for?

First of all, I volunteer throughout the year. My work is either in deployment or non-deployment times. For example, once a month I lead a team to offer treatments at the Nederland Fire Station, and once a month I lead a team to offer treatments at the Four Mile Canyon Fire Station. I made these relationships during deployments when I was called to respond, as well as making relationships during FEMA training. I have been supporting these teams for three years now. In April I lead a team to participate during a functional exercise and drill with the Boulder County Emergency Operations Center, and that was a half-day exercise.

My last deployment was a half-day deployment during the Sunshine Canyon Fire response in 2017, but they were able to manage the disaster fairly quickly so it was a short deployment. The most memorable experience and longest time I was deployed as an acupuncturist was during the Cold Springs Fire in 2016. The response phase was 10 days long, then we transitioned into the recovery phase which lasted for several months. During the response phase I sent teams to the firefighters basecamp, the emergency operations center coordinating the boots on the ground, and the incident command post with the incident command staff.

What is your most memorable experience as an EMR Acupuncturist?

In 2017 hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria rocked our nation. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) requested a disaster behavioral health team to deploy to Puerto Rico. To our knowledge, this was the first time a behavioral health team was requested through this system (and does not mean this is the last).

The State of Colorado won the bid to provide this team and the request came through for volunteers with our state volunteer registry for people who spoke some level of Spanish and were trained/certified in Psychological First Aid. Due to the fact I trained ahead of time, was a registered volunteer with Colorado, and was trained in disaster response, I made the team. My travel, meals, and accommodations were all paid for, and I was paid acupuncturist wages for every hour I worked. This is the first time I have ever been paid to be part of a deployment.

The deployment was for three weeks and we supported local behavioral health teams in Puerto Rico. Our mission was psychological first aid, and we traveled to about 30 refugios (shelters) to provide assistance in healing and emotional recovery. Even though our mission was not to provide acupuncture, I was able to share my skills as an acupuncturist and provide the local community group Qi Gong exercises, Tai Ji stretching, and share different acupressure points and lifestyle choices that can support resilience and recovery. At the end of the day I provided acupuncture treatments to my team keeping them at their best, as well as several branches of the military, FEMA, and other supporting agencies we housed with.

This deployment helped me create new partnerships, and I have since worked on a year-long project partnering with the Medical Reserve Corps of Puerto Rico to train their unit in ways they can use the acupuncture resource. I joined the unit as a volunteer, so next time a disaster occurs, the team not only has ways to use immediately use acupuncture through the Acupuncture Mission Ready Package Training, but now I have a chance to support the team and offer acupuncture to Puerto Ricans.

Do you qualify for any loan forgiveness benefits as a corps member (asking for a friend)?  

Since this is only volunteer work, and not a salary based position, there are no loan forgiveness benefits with the Medical Reserve Corps. In order to qualify for loan forgiveness you must have 50% or more of your salary coming from a government organization or 501c3 for 10 years. That is why we need to create a movement in the acupuncture profession to volunteer, you have to start the work somewhere.

My hopes are that we can create paid positions in emergency response. It is all about the experience you have and not your educational training. Those with real-life experience in deployments will be considered higher up for the interview process and will be the first considered for those paid positions. My biggest suggestion is to get your experience now so when paid opportunities do come around then you can have a better chance on nabbing one of those positions.

For those interested in loan forgiveness I would suggest becoming employed with a 501c3 or with the VA as an acupuncturist.

Do you have your own practice or work for another clinic? If so, how do you balance emergency response work with your regular clinic patients?

It all depends on how busy your practice is and how many hours you can volunteer. When I first moved to Colorado and was growing my practice I had the time to donate 10-25 hours a week to be in a leadership position. Now that my practice has grown and I am seeking employment as an emergency manager, I have stepped down from a leadership role and volunteer about 4 hours twice a month.

My patients know my passion to volunteer and participate in deployments so when an emergency does occur they are understanding when I call to reschedule them so I can close my practice for a day or more and help out the local community. My patients love the fact I do this work, and volunteering has even helped my practice grow. They know that supporting me financially allows me the chance to volunteer and indirectly supports the community. 

What opportunities does your upcoming training at AOMA open up for participants?

This training will provide the basics you need to join many federally and state approved teams, such as the Medical Reserve Corps and Team Rubicon. Every team is different and training requirements may differ, but with my work in creating and growing the Acupuncture Mission Ready Package every class participant will have skills on how to modify the acupuncture resource in your specific community and your unit needs.

We will also train everyone with basic FEMA required training, such as ICS 100 and 700. We will also have an introduction to psychological first aid so people can have an understanding on how to use this in the field and in their practice, and I will guide everyone on how to get their certification.

We will talk about local volunteer opportunities, such as joining the University of Texas at Austin Medical Reserve Corps and the Williamson County Medical Reserve Corps. In addition, I will be talking in detail about the pilot study in which I was the principal investigator, partnered with the University of Colorado at Boulder Psychology department, and funded by a grant with the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO). Information provided about this pilot study can be used to help you with education and networking with the the acupuncture resource as a volunteer.

Any advice to students in school right now and students about to graduate?

Start training now! Start volunteering now! The more experience you have in the world of disasters and emergency management the more it will benefit you personally, benefit your practice, and benefit your local and global community. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities available right now, and so many rewarding ways in which you can volunteer even if you don't use needles. Remember, acupuncture is just one tool in the fast world of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We have to start somewhere, help me grow the movement on volunteering in the acupuncture profession!

 

Thank you so much for your time and all the work you do, Rachelle! Here are some links for those interested in learning more about Medical Response Teams:

Medical Reserve Corps

Team Rubicon Disaster Response

The American Red Cross

FEMA training Materials

About Psychological First Aid

 

Don't forget to check out our upcoming CEU and training opportunity with Rachelle:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/acupuncture-emergency-response-and-medical-reserve-corps-volunteer-training-tickets-58664871209

 

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, masters program, grad school, aoma, tcm education, acupunture, disaster relief, medical volunteer

Alumni Spotlight: Sadie Minkoff, 2003 AOMA Graduate

Posted by Mary Faria, PhD, FACHE on Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 11:47 AM

Please provide a little information on your education and experience prior to AOMA.
Before I ever dreamed that I would receive acupuncture (I had a serious needle phobia), let alone become an acupuncturist, I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in modern dance and education. A little-known fact is that I danced professionally in NYC for seven years before moving to Austin to attend AOMA graduate school of Integrative Medicine.

Tell us about your journey to AOMA—what led you to Acupuncture and Traditional
Chinese Medicine?
While in New York I worked as a certified Alexander Technique teacher (an ergonomic physiology method often used by artists and athletes). At this time, some concern arose that teachers of this postural alignment method would have to obtain a massage license to continue practicing. So I proactively enrolled at the Swedish Institute, a renowned massage school. As it Picture1turned out, half of the program was devoted to learning Shiatsu (acupressure) which uses the same meridian system as acupuncture. I had already been studying Eastern philosophy and fell completely in love with this profound approach to health. It was also at this time that I injured my back during a performance and on the advice of a friend, found myself in Chinatown getting acupuncture. Needless to say, my back pain resolved, and I had discovered what would become a lifelong passion.

Your work in women’s health and fertility is outstanding. What led you to specializing in this area of medicine?
When I graduated from AOMA, I worked as a generalist in an HIV clinic, and several integrative medical practices, before focusing on Women’s health and fertility exclusively. My mother, who was an OB/GYN NP, had a big influence on my interest in specializing, as did my desire to be a parent. I’m the oldest of six children in my family and always knew that I wanted to be a mother. I learned everything there was to know about Eastern reproductive medicine and Western fertility treatments (which have changed dramatically over the past 15+ years). After going through our own struggles, my spouse and I did end up having our son and I was inspired to create a space where people could find information, care, and support during their fertility journey. It gives me immense joy to celebrate the innumerable successes with our patients, as well as solace knowing that at Sage we provide a haven for those going through this unique challenge.

What would you like everyone to know about you—your interests, passions, hobbies, etc.?
My passions are simply my family, my work, and my community. I am incredibly appreciative of the support I’ve received in my life, and it is my hope that I can pay it forward by planting the seeds of health and happiness in others as they build their families.

Topics: women's health, alumni, alumni spotlight, reproductive medicine, fertility, professional acupuncturist, licensed acupuncture, tcm school, tcm health, acupunture

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!

Schedule a Campus Tour

 

 

Topics: faculty spotlight, alumni, alumni spotlight

Alumni Spotlight: Tio Bustillo

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

Alumni Spotlight Tio Bustillo.png

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, alumni spotlight

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

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

Alumni spotlight.png

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, acupuncture, men's health

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

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

AOMA Named 2015 Military Friendly® School for Supporting Student Veterans

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 @ 10:14 AM

AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine has been named a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, the leader in successfully connecting the military and civilian worlds.

military friendly schoolThe Military Friendly® Schools designation is awarded to the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation.

AOMA is proud to support student veterans – and proud of our students! To celebrate the announcement, we interviewed Tony Bailes, a master’s degree alum and current doctoral student at AOMA. In addition to being a full-time student, Tony is also the president of AOMA’s Student Veteran Organization and an active member of the campus community.

View the AOMA Acupuncture School listing on the G.I. Jobs website.

Tony Bailes, MAcOM, DAOM class of 2015

Tony Bailes, doctor of acupuncture studentMilitary Branch: US Army
Years Served: 4

What prompted you to return to school?

After serving as a combat medic, I knew I had found a home in health care. The feeling of knowing that I could make a difference in people's lives, even a small one, was the greatest reward. My time in the service had given me some much needed direction. The thought of returning to school at my age was a little frightening and I wasn't sure I was making the right decision.

Why did you choose AOMA?

My decision to go to AOMA was the result of two dominating factors. I wanted to stay in healthcare, but was feeling the rigors of emergency care. Acupuncture and integrative medicine offered me an opportunity to treat patients over time and see their progression, as opposed to the "turn and burn" of emergency medicine. Another decisive factor was AOMA as a community. I began my discussion while still in Iraq and when I was able to visit in person, all those positive interactions I had were reinforced. The sense of community was overwhelming. I knew immediately that I was where I was meant to be.

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

I used my Post 9/11 GI Bill and Federal Graduate Loans. I also took advantage of the Federal Work Study program.

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

As with any process, there were ups and downs. The program can be challenging, but the journey taught me so much. After finishing the master’s program, I still felt a little lost. By some random turn of events, I ended up in the first DAOM program and could not be happier. Being in the DAOM program has taught me much about myself and my capabilities. I am grateful and proud to be part of the inaugural cohort. The friendships and connections I have created have been incredibly supportive and nurturing. Seven years after my initial contact, I still feel the same level of connection and the sense of community I did that very first day I walked onto campus.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?

The adjustment can be a challenge. The single most important thing to remember is that the knowledge, experience, and discipline we acquired serving our country is easily applicable to our educational journey. We understand commitment and hard work, and I feel that gives us that intangible edge. The end result of the challenge holds great reward. Find your community and draw on the lessons learned from our service time. Most importantly, reach out when you need help and embrace the great things that lie ahead.

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

The challenges have been mostly in the communication and boundaries. Military members and veterans are part of a very defined subculture. We have our own language and biases. The language often associated with our medicine does not always resonate with the veteran and military community. Coming up with a vocabulary that is respectful, yet informative was the biggest challenge. Another challenge exists in boundaries. By nature, veterans and military members have a tendency to be more guarded. Trust is not easily earned. The ability to gain the level of trust needed to be effective takes effort and time. Our greatest strength is our sense of community. The sense of community is something that is well reflected of the culture of AOMA and I feel that being able to extend that grace to our patients, regardless of their background, is what makes AOMA so special.

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Topics: student spotlight, alumni spotlight, student services, veteran affairs, student organizations

AOMA Alumna Provides Free Acupuncture in Bhottechour, Nepal

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 @ 12:16 PM

Namaste!Acupuncture in nepal

I have had the most amazing past five months living in Nepal providing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine at a healthcare clinic in a beautiful place called Bhottechour. Through the kindness and generosity of many members both in and out of the AOMA community, I was able to take off on an adventure of a lifetime and help many people in need

 

acupuncture abroadI consider my volunteer service in Bhottechour to be a resounding success. Although I don’t have the exact numbers, I provided well over 600 treatments in the past five months to people with little to no affordable or accessible healthcare options. These treatments ranged from knee pain and general body aches from working long hours in the fields, to varicose veins, hypertension, stroke recovery, high uric acid levels, allergies, various unknown pathologies, and more. I witnessed people who experienced pain for years become 90-100% pain free in just two to five treatments. The smiles and appreciation were abundant.   

 

As a member of the clinic staff, I got to engage in the day to day environment of the local people. I woke up to an amazing mountain view. I ate delicious traditional Nepali food consisting of a heaping plate of rice, a medley of spicy vegetables, and dal, a type of lentil “soup”. All of this I ate using only my right hand and with the unfettered joy of a child who plays with their food.

 

I took pride in my hand washed clothes and ability to use the restroom in a non-western toilet. My showers were few and far between, but I know my cleanliness was still greater than that of many of my patients.

 

Eventually, I learned enough Nepali to be able to get through a rough version of a patient intake without the use of my translator. And I finally became accustomed to the randomness of electricity availability.

 

amy Babb nepalSome of my most favorite moments were simply lying in the grass outside the clinic with other members of the staff just watching. We saw the millings of a small village where either a motorcycle or a bus passing was a rare event. People carried heavy loads on their backs full of grains and grasses to feed their buffalo and goats. Some stopped into the little shop at the end of our hill to enjoy a cup of tea and catch up on local affairs. We watched the neighbors plowing their fields by day and enjoying a campfire by night. Mostly, we just watched the view of the still mountains and the clouds drifting in the sky. 

 

The air was clean and the daily activity simple. As the clinic is a 24 hour emergency facility, it was an environment where anything and nothing could happen in a day. Planning and expectation took on a whole new meaning. I fell in love with my friends and patients and all the dogs that followed me home. 

 

amy Babb acupunctureThe second part to my Nepal saga is manifesting daily. I now live full-time in Kathmandu with my partner in crime. We watch our future unfolding and we are constantly in awe. Currently, I have Sheng Zhen Gong classes to teach, acupuncture treatments to give, meditations and teachings to enjoy and spiritual practices of Tibetan medicine to research. I think it’s going to be great!  

 

May each of you enjoy those things that fill your heart and free your mind!

From Nepal with Love,
Amy Babb, LAc, MAcOM
AOMA Class of 2012

 
Watch this short video of Amy talking about her experience.

Discover the Art & Spirit of Healing: Introduction to Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, job opportunities, alumni, alumni spotlight

Alumni Success: Wally Doggett, Class of 2004

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 @ 03:27 PM

Wally DoggettWally Doggett, owner of South Austin Community Acupuncture and 2004 AOMA alumni moved to Austin in the 80’s from Richmond, Texas to live the musicians’ dream.  The seeds for Chinese medicine were planted in his teenage years by an older musician friend but did not bloom till many years later.  The two would discuss all types of ideas including Asian philosophies and religion.  He began his journey in Austin working at a biotech company running their shipping department during the day and playing drums at honky-tonk bars at night.  He was also participating in qigong at the Keishan Institute.  A profound shift and deep healing happened when the institute brought Praveeta Rose (also an AOMA alumna) and Ward Tummins to talk about various theories in medicine.  As Wally states this lecture spurred him to, “take off after Chinese medicine as if my life depended on it.”  

South Austin Community Clinic has been open since 2006 and was developed while Wally was researching “acupuncture marketing” on the internet.  Wally says, “When I stumbled upon Working Class Acupuncture about four pages into a Google search …the pieces fell into place.”  He immediately booked a trip to Portland to meet Lisa Rohleder, the founder of Working Class Acupuncture, and check out her movement for community acupuncture.  Already feeling connected to his neighborhood in South Austin it was apparent to him that Austin could support a much broader market for acupuncture than charging $60+ per treatment.  Wally wanted to reach as many people as possible with this medicine and it was clear that this was the model to support his vision.  Now he says, “The diversity of people that come though the clinic is one of the most satisfying parts about my work.”

While in school Wally worked at Allen Cline and James Phillip’s clinic Turtle Dragon.  It was here that he was able to work with raw herbs and fill herbal prescriptions.  He learned a lot from this experience including the confidence to make herbal formulations a large part of his current practice.  Wally says, “I value my training at AOMA and my experiences at Turtle Dragon too much not to use Chinese herbal medicine as an integral part of my practice.”

When reflecting on his time at AOMA he remembered the rich experiences he had with professors in conversations between the breaks.  He said, “You just never know when or where someone is going to drop an extraordinary pearl of wisdom that will just connect the dots for you in a profound way.”  Wally has found that it has worked for him to follow his bliss and create his business based on what was most appealing to him.  His advice for current students is to “Follow your heart.  Find a way of working that resonates with you, and pour yourself into it.”  This philosophy has worked for him for more than five years.  He has also expanded to support two other AOMA graduates, Mike Sobin and Erica Chu.

When Wally is not busy with the clinic he is working as the president of Texas Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (TAAOM) as of May 2012.  Being in this position, he has been able to make a stronger alliance between the different styles of acupuncture such as community style acupuncture and other more mainstream models.  Wally says, “It is an honor to serve as a board member, and just as I enjoy the diversity of my patient population as a practitioner, one of the more satisfying pieces to me about being president of the TAAOM is the diversity of practitioners, and getting to know them all.”

 

Discover the Art & Spirit of Healing: Introduction to Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, herbal studies, community acupuncture

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