AOMA Blog

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, 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

Transformation: How I Became an Acupuncturist

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 03:49 PM

My journey began in 2009. Four years later, and I am just about wrapping up my experience at AOMA.  It has definitely been a long haul, and I have changed a lot along the way.  When I started the master of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program, I was only 23 years old.  I was frustrated about healthcare and the state of American medicine, and I had decided to take the first step along a path that would lead me to greater understanding of not just medicine, but the entire body-mind-spirt axis of the human condition.  Some aspects of my personal growth were not connected to AOMA, but just a natural progression I would have followed regardless of my education.  However, there were undoubtedly parts of my AOMA education that have changed me forever.

Holistic Theory

Part of the transformation has been simply learning alternative theories of the human form.  Trained as a molecular biologist, I had only been taught the materialistic theories of the body.  Organisms are made of organs, are made of tissues, are made of cells, are made of organelles, are made of macromolecules, are made of atoms, are made of quarks and subatomic particles.  These theories just dissect the physical body ad infinitum without any consideration that there might be more.  The energetic theories of yin and yang, of the meridians, and of the zang fu have perfectly complemented all my scientific knowledge.  Whether physical or energetic, I now have a way of analyzing whatever phenomenon appears.  Attempting to integrate the two types of theory is going to take a long time, but in the end the holistic theory that emerges will be a double-edged sword that can cut to the bottom of an issue quickly. 

Energetic Theory

The qigong components of the program have also greatly impacted my perspective on life.  It’s one thing to intellectually learn the energetic theories of the body, but it’s another to actually feel the energy moving up and down the meridians or drawing energy into and pushing it out of your body.  If there was ever any proof needed for the existence of a world beyond the physical, my experience with medical qigong at AOMA has provided it.  I had an inkling back in my Massachusetts days when I was exploring Tibetan Buddhism, just a few meditative experiences that pointed to a non-physical realm.  Medical qigong totally sealed the deal.  Clinically, I noticed that my patients who received medical qigong felt as if they got more out of the treatments.  In addition, several patients who received only medical qigong were absolutely stunned by their experience, as if they were floating, for instance. 

Community & Leadership

Another core pillar of my experience at AOMA was the AOMA Student Association (ASA).  At first, I just went to a few meetings here and there.  At the time there were 4-6 people at each meeting.  When I later ran for Vice-President of the ASA, I was experiencing a particular surge of confidence in myself and my abilities.  Although I ran unopposed, I was proud because it was the first office I held for any association since high school.  By the time I became ASA President, the average size of the meetings had grown to 12-15, and members were becoming a lot more active.  I really enjoyed seeing the organizational growth that we had stimulated.  The shining achievement of the ASA during my term as President was the Advancing Integrative Medicine at AOMA event.  We brought together over 80 students and alumni for a full day of free lectures by well-known speakers in the field, some of which even offered CEUs!  I was super proud of this event, and it has shown me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. 

Integration

What goes without saying is that I have found acupuncture and herbal medicine to be very effective.  A bit silly to express it in such simple terms, but there are still a lot of people in our culture who are either on the fence or completely close-minded about acupuncture.  My overall experience in the student clinic was undeniably positive.  I have seen so many patients come through our doors at AOMA, and almost all of them leave satisfied with their treatment.

I have finished the program with the confidence and determination to improve the standing of Chinese medicine in our culture.  Integrating all the various alternative and mainstream modalities of American medicine is my life goal, and the direction in which I will be focusing all my attention post-graduation.  Already in the works, I am helping organize Austin’s first integrative health workers cooperative.  It’s going to be a lot of difficult, ground-breaking work, but in the end it is the only way that I want to practice medicine.  Just as my perspective on life has become more dynamic and capable of understanding new phenomena, the integration of Western and Eastern modalities will make the practice of medicine as a whole much stronger.


About David Taylor, LAc

Modern Muck Acupuncture

David studied neuroscience and psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  After graduating magna cum laude in 2008, he worked at the UMass Medical School performing molecular immunology research.  Wishing to study medicine, but not be dependent on pharmaceuticals for his practice, David decided to study acupuncture & Chinese medicine.  He graduated from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in May 2013, and received his acupuncture license in September 2013.  He currently practices in Austin, Texas.

Having studied both Western science and Eastern medicine, David has a unique view of the human body, and in particular the human psyche.  Eastern philosophy points to a hidden, yet tangible, force to explain the workings of the body, while Western medicine only accepts that which is visible and measurable. The two perspectives almost always have different explanations for the same phenomenon, yet drawing lines between the two often creates a richer understanding of the problem.  In this way, a fusion of the two perspectives allows for an extremely versatile approach to medicine.

David's website - Modern Muck Acupuncture

 

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Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

 

Topics: student spotlight, alumni, alumni spotlight, acupuncture school, transformation

Alumni Success: Gail Daugherty, Class of 2009

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 08:57 AM

gail daugherty acupunctureGail Daugherty never expected a chronic shoulder issue to land her in acupuncture school, studying Chinese medicine. As a competitive swimmer and triathlete, she had been experiencing severe shoulder pain and limited range of motion that began affecting her sleep, mood, and ability to perform certain tasks. The doctors wanted to inject steroids and were even thinking of surgery.

Gail, with her PhD in holistic nutrition and abundance of body awareness, wasn’t interested in either. A fellow triathlete recommended acupuncture and she thought, “No way! That sounds like it hurts and it probably doesn’t even work.”

A year later with worse pain and greater limited range of motion, another triathlete gave her the number of her acupuncturist. Gail begrudgingly committed to 10 sessions with major reservations. Although it took three months to notice a difference in her shoulder, she eventually ended up pain free with complete range of motion returned. Gail was hooked. Not only was she an avid believer in the effectiveness of Chinese medicine, she began cultivating a strong interest in learning how to do it herself. 

After her personal experiences with the medicine, acupuncture school was always in the back of her mind, and she would check out schools every time she looked for a new place to live. Her opportunity to study acupuncture serendipitously presented itself at last while she was working in Mexico. She received a call from Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine asking if she would be interested in teaching Biochemical Nutrition at their school. It was an irresistible opportunity to live in a beautiful community by the ocean and learn more about acupuncture. After her first trimester of teaching, she began taking classes. Though she began her studies in California, Gail eventually decided to transfer to AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine where she completed the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program.acupuncture cruise ship

Three days after her 2009 graduation she went to work on cruise ships as an acupuncturist. She traveled the world and saw places she never thought she would get to see (like the Great Sphinx of Giza), all the while learning how to talk to people about acupuncture and encourage them to try it.

“I was very fortunate to work on the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. I saw between 80-100 patients per week, which really allowed me to hone my skills and find my specialties,” Gail said.

pain free dallasNow Gail is a licensed practitioner and the Clinic Director of Pain Free Acupuncture Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Her clinic has two locations, one in Plano at the Willow Bend Wellness Center and one in Craig Ranch inside The Cooper Clinic. She will be opening a third site at The Cooper Clinic’s Dallas location next year and is in the process of interviewing and hiring several acupuncturists. She specializes in pain management, injury recovery, allergies, and stress reduction using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Dr. Tan Balance method, and NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques).

When reminiscing about her time spent at AOMA, what sticks out most to Gail is working at White Crane (now AOMA Herbal Medicine) and smelling and touching the herbs, seeing how people were using them, and being immersed in the learning environment there. “The people I met at AOMA were incredibly diverse, but we continue to be uniquely bound. It’s wonderful to share an intense experience with so many wonderful people,” she said

One of Gail’s current business ventures involves acupuncture business coaching services and a related workbook.

“I've written a workbook and have a coaching practice to help acupuncturists be successful and inspire them to get over their fears and obstacles,” Gail said. “I've been working with therapists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists to help them want to get out of their comfort zone, because that's where the magic happens.”

According to Gail, it’s all a matter of perspective. “Once practitioners can get to the point where they see no other option but to be successful, they are,” she said. “The trick is for them to know where they are right now, where they're heading, and finally -- how to get there.”

Growing her practice, all the while helping other practitioners be successful, has really brought Gail’s love of helping and healing people to a whole new level.

With a blossoming career to show for all of the hard work she has put in, she clearly has an abundance of excellent advice for other acupuncturists entering the field.

“Find which acupuncture styles and conditions you are the best at using and treating; it’s important to choose 1-3 things that you are really, really good at treating,” Gail said. “I think it’s a mistake to want to treat everything. Would you go to a doctor that treats asthma, delivers babies, and does heart surgery? I wouldn’t. I want to go to the best doctor for each issue that comes up.”

Gail’s secret formula to success in the field?

1. Get out of your office and talk to people

“If you want to work for yourself you have to wear many hats,” Gail says. “Most of those hats are things you don’t like doing. Make a commitment to get out of your office four hours a week and go talk to people. Since my practice focuses on pain and injury, I set up a table with my liquid herbs, brochures and some needles and let every single person that walks by me know that I’m an acupuncturist and I’m here to answer any of their questions. Some people breeze by and try to ignore you, but most people are very interested in TCM. It’s uncomfortable, but so is sitting in an empty office waiting for the phone to ring.”

2. Know your craft and be the best you can at what you do

“Don’t be afraid to refer. I specialize in pain, stress, injury, and allergies. I have gotten to know several acupuncturists in the area and I refer to them when it’s an issue that doesn’t fit my style. The growth of my practice has not suffered. There are plenty of people to support your practice.”

3. Have passion for what you do

“Ask for help,” Gail says. “Most people want to help, especially if you ask for something specific. For example, I’ve asked patients to mention me to three people they talk to that day and give them my card. Your patients love you and love the work you’re doing. They want to help you be successful, but they may not know how.

Collect testimonials while you are in school and with every patient once you’re out. Ask your patient to take a moment before or after their treatment to write a few words about you, your clinic, and their experience working with you. I also keep a flip camera on hand and a waiver to record them and post it all over the internet. You can check them out at www.PainFreeDallas.com.”

She also highly recommends not being afraid of competition. “The more people there are talking about acupuncture, the more people will know about it,” Gail said. No matter where you live (even Austin or California), there are plenty of people to support your practice.”

But Gail’s most important recommendation is this: Enjoy every minute of it. “Most people don’t have the ability to transform lives. We get to do it every day. You have an amazing gift.”

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: job opportunities, career services, alumni, alumni spotlight

Alumni Success: Sadie Minkoff, Class of 2003

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Sun, Nov 03, 2013 @ 02:58 PM

AOMA alumna Sadie Minkoff was a modern dancer in a company based in New York City when she injured her sacrum in a rehearsal. Minkoff says, “I was studying Eastern philosophy and Shiatsu and was petrified of needles so I was hesitant to try acupuncture until I got injured.”  Minkoff finally mustered the courage to travel to New York’s Chinatown to try out acupuncture. 

Most “needle phobic” patients are generally surprised to find out that acupuncture needles are a thin metal filament about the width of a human hair and cannot deliver the same kind of impact as a needle used for a flu or tetanus shot. Minkoff, being terrified of needles, was no different. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the sensations from the needles were minimal and the treatment itself was very enjoyable and effective. Minkoff says, “The injury resolved quickly but what was even more exciting to me was how good I felt after my acupuncture treatments. So I continued getting acupuncture and started learning about Chinese Medicine.”

Eventually Minkoff found herself at AOMA studying acupuncture. Her journey as a practitioner has taken her many places including an interdisciplinary clinic in Washington, DC and a western medical clinic in Austin. She has also worked in a couple of integrative settings with IUI and IVF patients. In 2012 Minkoff received hospital privileges when a local doctor invited her to do acupuncture during fertility treatments in the hospital where he worked. 

Currently, Minkoff owns a private practice with her partner Michelle Schreiber in Austin. Sage Acupuncture focuses on both fertility and oncology. Minkoff reflects, “We have created a beautiful sanctuary where people can feel comfortable and supported in their healing process.”  As Minkoff’s clientele grows she holds the intention to continue to work from her heart and serve her community.  

Since Minkoff has been in the acupuncture field she has learned that listening and compassion promote success in her practice. She has also learned that no matter how many tools she has to share with her patients she does not heal the patient, the patient heals herself. This philosophy has kept patients coming back to her years after they get pregnant and have their children.

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

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, integrative medicine

Alumni Success: Cat Calhoun, Class of 2011

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Aug 01, 2013 @ 01:18 PM

cat calhoun acupunctureCat Calhoun is the first in her family to go to college and the only one thus far to receive a master’s degree. Before she came to AOMA she was a Senior Network Administrator for the city of Austin. Cat was involved in several car wrecks that damaged her neck. She found an acupuncturist who not only fixed her neck, but also cured her recurrent tension headaches. When her job shifted to more desk work and less face-to-face interactions with clients she decided to do some soul-searching and change careers. She researched and visited many acupuncture schools and found that AOMA was one of the best schools in the country. She says “we have some truly world class professors, both in knowledge and spirit. They are the power and the gems of the school.”

 

While in school Cat became known for her giving, communal spirit that is always ready to offer encouragement to her fellow students. She became famous at AOMA for her donation based website called CatsTCMnotes.com. The website started when a fellow classmate missed a couple of classes and asked Cat to take notes for her. Her notes were so detailed that other classmates wanted copies. She decided to put them on the web to share them with anyone who wanted another perspective on the information presented in class at AOMA. This website is now being viewed by people from all around the world. Cat says, “I’ve gotten appreciation e-mails from TCM practitioners and students in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Thailand, and most recently from Israel.” She has done a fantastic job organizing complex ideas and putting them into accessible charts for current students to study.

 

Cat graduated from AOMA in Summer 2011 and is already well on the way to becoming a successful business owner and practitioner. Although she has done most of the “normal” things graduates do once they leave school to become business owners, her philosophy is starkly different than most. Cat’s approach to building her patient base starts with building community. She is drawn to “communal style acupuncture” and has always been open and willing to help anyone who crosses her path. Her first piece of advice to new graduates is to remember “there are going to be rough spots you will hit and you will live through them. Get serious about a meditative practice like yoga, tai chi, qigong, transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation. You’re going to need it!”

 

Cat has continued this philosophy of building community by moving her practice into her own zip code. She thinks “our culture suffers from lack of ‘neighborhood’ and connection. I want to work in my own community, helping people to find healing and connection.” In the next five to ten years Cat desires to start a residency program for students that are newly graduated. “I want to build a clinic with a ‘neighborhood’ of acupuncture specialists in different fields who are willing to take on a new graduate protégé, teach them our business model and help them get on their acupuncture feet before we send them out into the world.” She currently gives students discounted acupuncture rates to both keep them in her life and share what she has learned with them on her path. She is also currently offering Reiki and herbs to treat a variety of health concerns, but focuses on insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, gynecological, hormonal imbalances, and pain relief. She says, “I want to make acupuncture as accessible to as many people as possible while still giving a quality treatment in a safe private space.” Visit Cat's website.

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

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight, community acupuncture, qigong

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