AOMA Blog

An Interview With The President: Dr. Mary Faria

Posted by Maxwell Poyser on Mon, Sep 20, 2021 @ 02:38 PM

 

Dr Mary FariaIn honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we recently sat down with AOMA President and CEO Dr. Mary Faria to learn more about how she came to be at AOMA, her commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive environment on campus, and how the power of acupunture has helped her to be a better runner. 

Hi Mary! What is your role at AOMA and how long have you been with the school?

Hi Maxwell. I serve as the President and CEO of AOMA. I joined AOMA in January of 2018.

What initially drew you towards how the study of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine is practiced here at AOMA?

I worked for a large healthcare system for close to 25 years. We worked with AOMA in our community clinics. The value this medicine brought was extraordinary. The integrative model that was created not only demonstrated better patient outcomes through an integrative approach, but also reduced emergency room visits, hospitalizations and provided a more holistic approach to patient care that patients respond to very well.

I also have utilized an integrated approach for my own health. Through an active lifestyle, good nutrition, mindfulness and taking advantage of acupuncture and herbal treatments I’ve never needed to take medications or more invasive procedures. I’m passionate in my belief that integrative care models that include acupuncture, herbs and other alternatives can transform healthcare in this country.


AOMA has a diverse set of faculty, staff, and students from across the globe, and as one of the only Hispanic-American Presidents within the field of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, how important has creating a more diverse and welcoming environment on campus been to you?

It has been very important to me. I’m a believer in the richness that comes from diversity. It was important to have a role at AOMA dedicated to helping us find ways to be more inclusive and I’m so pleased we have that in place with our Sr. Director of Student Services and Inclusion and Diversity. Our Governing Board has embraced this, and we have begun the process of intentionally inviting new members who better represent people of color.


Pre-Covid Community Wellness Hours were a very popular event at AOMA and were a wonderful way for individuals of more vulnerable communities to receive free or reduced-cost treatment for topics such as pain or stress. As a longstanding and active Austinite, what have been some of your favorite moments during these engagements with your community?

I very much miss our in person community wellness hours. I participated as often as I was able. There is something so special about group meditation. Energy (Qi) shared is powerful. At the end of each wellness hour we go around the group and everyone shares something they want to share about the experience, if they choose. It is so gratifying to hear how much this time we offer is transforming lives through stress reduction, help with addiction, and providing peaceful time. It is clear for many it is the only outlet they have. How wonderful that we can help in this way.

Holistic Medicine has long been a standing practice in Hispanic Culture, have you noticed any similarities between how holistic medicine is practiced in Hispanic Cultures and Traditional Chinese Medicine during your time at AOMA?

I think there is a deep care for the person being treated that is common among all medicines. With traditional practices as in my culture (Mexican) and with TCM the mind body connections are much stronger. There are also generational aspects, things passed from grandparents to parents to children and so on.


As some may know, you are an avid runner and acupuncture has been known to help elevate some of the pressures that come with running and other forms of exercise. How have you noticed a difference in your running practice since incorporating acupuncture & TCM into your routine?

Yes, I’ve been a competitive age group runner for about 30 years now. I was actually introduced to acupuncture when I was dealing with a running injury and quickly became a fan. It was so effective in helping me overcome the injury. I’ve incorporated it in my integrative approach to staying healthy for running over the years. I’m training for a marathon now and getting acupuncture each week up to the marathon in October to help with some hip flexor strain I’ve been experiencing.


Lastly, when you are not at AOMA how do you like to spend your free time?

I love to spend time with the love of my life, my husband, even if it is just enjoying the back of our property in a hammock. We love to find new places for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Running of course, but I also swim and bike. I love reading, especially historical fiction and I love being creative through artwork and flower arranging.

Topics: integrative medicine, AOMA community collaborations, acupuncture, chinese medicine, Mary Faria, CEO, ATX

The Artemis Art Group for Women Veterans and AOMA's Connection

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

For years AOMA has raised awareness regarding the complex and subtle medical needs of our returning military veterans, many of whom are regular clients of the professional and student clinics. Some veterans (including military RNs, PTs, and Medics) expand their medical training at AOMA and now rank among the great list of alums and current students.

But there are limited creative opportunities for returning vets, especially women vets, in Austin. The ARTEMIS ART & PEER GROUP for women military veterans and those in active service was co-created by AOMA graduate Kim Layne LAc, AOBTA-CP, Director of Integrative Medicine at the Samaritan Center; Pam Ferguson, Dipl ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA-CI, AOMA’s ABT Dean Emerita; and Annie McMillin, decorated Army vet and artist. Annie chose the name after the free-spirited Greek goddess of hunting, strength, and health.

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The Artemis theme – From Combat to Art – provides a friendly, supportive setting for women vets who are accomplished artists, along with those who are just exploring their creativity in oils, watercolors, mixed media, and crafts. The first group exhibit was held recently in the art gallery at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Grover Lane at 49th Street, where the group met twice monthly during 2014 in an airy classroom space overlooking a garden. The eclectic mix of exhibits included Zentangle black-and-white drawings; aprons made of recycled materials; painted skulls to honor roadkill; jazz artworks in oil; and collages of art, photography, and verse. The exhibit was a huge success. Visitors were in awe of art by veterans ranging in age from 30 to 90 in all branches of the military (from WW2 to the present day). Folks stopped in their tracks to read ad hoc comments from the meetings, pinned between the artworks. Most reflected problems that veterans experienced adjusting to civilian life after deployment, especially around non-military family and friends. Quips included: “I was there for Them. Not for Myself,” and “I lost the normal range of emotions,” and “Civilians don’t understand.”

Upcoming 2015 exhibitions are planned at the Samaritan Center in May for Armed Services Day, and in October at the George Washington Carver Museum. Some members of the group are clients of Kim’s and Pam’s. Ongoing meetings will be held at the Samaritan Center, an appropriate shift as the center takes a comprehensive treatment approach and is home to the Hope for Heroes program, offering military veterans alternative integrative care on a sliding scale.

Some Artemists have experienced various layers of PTSD following combat and/or sexual abuse by military colleagues. But the Artemis purpose is not to be a “therapy group.” Annie McMillin describes it as empowerment through “non-therapy therapy.” That’s its charm. No one is under a spotlight. Artemis is just an informal gathering over coffee, muffins, and fruit, where participants talk freely and openly about their experiences while exploring different art forms. Accomplished artists generously share their technical expertise with those who haven’t touched a sketchbook since childhood.

All women military vets and those in active service are welcome. Yes, it’s free, but everyone chips in for refreshments! The next meeting is Saturday, February 21, 11 am-1 pm. Contact Kim at kim@samaritan-center.org or Pam at pamelacudot@gmail.com.

Pam’s regular ABT column in Acupuncture Today will feature the Artemis Group in May.

Topics: veteran affairs, AOMA community collaborations

AOMA Thanksgiving Food Drive: Nov. 1 -26, 2013

Posted by Justine Meccio on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 @ 09:38 AM

AOMA is holding a food drive to benefit local families in need this Thanksgiving!

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All donations will given to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. Items will be collected from Nov. 1 - 26, 2013.

Each year, the Capital Area Food Bank provides more than 24 million pounds of food and grocery products to approximately 300,000 people in need. These items serve local non-profit organizations and social service agencies. AOMA's community hopes to make a difference by providing extra goods and meals during the busy Thanksgiving season.

Begining November 1, 2013 - Bring Donations to:

  • AOMA Campus - 4701 West Gate Blvd., Austin, TX 78745:
    • AOMA Admissions Office (Building C)
    • AOMA Herbal Medicine Center (Building B)
    • AOMA Student Clinic (Building A)
  • AOMA North Clinic - 2700 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757:
    • Clinic Reception

The items most in need are:

  • Healthy, non-perishable foods
  • Canned vegetables & fruits
  • Canned meat like tuna, white meat chicken, chili or stews
  • Pasta & pasta sauce
  • Whole grains (brown rice)
  • Canned, low-sodium soups
  • Beans (canned or dry)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Healthy Cereals
  • Full meals in a can/box

 When selecting items, please choose:

  • Items with intact, unopened consumer or commercial packaging
  • Food with the expiration date printed on package
  • Choose pop-top cans for canned good
  • Items with non-breakable packaging (NO GLASS, PLEASE)

Questions may be directed to admissions@aoma.edu.

Throughout the years, AOMA has been engaged in many community collaborations. To learn more about other community collaborations, please visit aoma.edu/community-classes/community-collaborations/.

 

 

Topics: AOMA community collaborations, thanksgiving food drive, aoma thanksgiving food drive

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