AOMA Blog

Meet Nicole: Peace Corp Volunteer turned Acupuncture Student

Posted by Rob Davidson on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 04:17 PM

AOMA Student Spotlight Nicole

Please introduce yourself: Where are you from? Where did you go to undergraduate? What did you study? What program are you in here? How far along/When did you start at AOMA?

My name is Nicole. I grew up in Dallas, TX and went to Texas A&M University for my undergraduate degree in International and Environmental Studies. I started the Master’s program here at AOMA in 2016.

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

Before AOMA I mostly worked in the non-profit world. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer for 27 months in Peace Corps Paraguay's program. In a twisted bout of fate, I trained a group of 15 health magnet high schoolers to teach peer-to-peer sex-ed and tools for emotionally healthy relationships. I returned home to Dallas for three years and worked in food insecurity at the North Texas Food Bank as their Child Programs Team Lead.

What are some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?

Here's a huge list, because I couldn't choose one. Dr. Shen, Anne Cusick, Dr. Zhou, Dr. Wu and Dr. Song have taught me so much of what I know about patient-centered care and TCM today. There should be teaching awards for the work that Dr. Cone, Dr. Love and Dr. Becky Andrews do in the realm of western medicine.

What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why?

I love that it's such a warm and supportive community. I have met so many people here, and I don't even think I've had the time to really delve into those friendships as much as they deserve.

Have you started treating as a student intern yet? If so, describe a unique experience or something that surprised you.

Yes! I'm so glad that we start clinical work when we do. It's such a light at the end of the 4+ year academic tunnel that we have to get our Master's. Every patient who I see on my shifts brightens my day. If you are a patient and reading this, THANK YOU for trusting us with your health. You keep us sane throughout this program. 

What are you plans after graduation?

I'm still only halfway through my studies, but I do know that I would like to work with self-identified women, geriatrics, and have access to an herbal pharmacy. I'm not set on a geographical location yet but trusting that the right opportunities will show in a couple years as long as I keep saying "yes" to them! 

Do you have other interests/careers/hobbies you plan to also continue after graduation?

When I'm not cramming for a test, I find a lot of happiness in taking a stroll in my neighborhood, cycling and rock climbing. I still have part of my heart in the non-profit world and would love to work on making acupuncture more accessible for every socio-economic level when I graduate.

Want to learn more about AOMA's Master's Program? Download our Program Fact Sheet below:

Master's Program Fact Sheet

 

 

Topics: student spotlight, admissions, acupuncture students, aoma students

Jenna Valentine: Psychology Major & Youth Counselor, turned Acupuncture Student

Posted by Rob Davidson on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 04:03 PM

Acupuncture Student Spotlight Jenna Valentine

Please introduce yourself! Where are you from? Where did you go to undergraduate? What did you study? How far along/When did you start at AOMA?

Hi. My name is Jenna Valentine and I am originally from Northern California. I graduated from Occidental College in 2004 with a degree in Psychology/minor in Spanish and started at AOMA in Fall 2017. 

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

Lots of cool things happened in the 10+ years between graduating from undergrad and starting graduate school:  I worked in the child welfare/juvenile justice system, ran an after-school program for at-risk youth, got married, had a baby, moved to Austin, got divorced, and started this new iteration of my life. 

What was your first introduction to acupuncture and what was your impression?

I’ve been a pretty major fan of Acupuncture since college when I went to a fundraiser where it was being offered and saw immediate results. I got treatments on and off (including labor induction!) and nagged all my friends/family to try it (I can be very persuasive!), but I never made the connection that I could be the person doing rather than simply receiving the treatment.  

When did you become interested in studying Chinese medicine and why? What made you choose AOMA as your school and/or shift your career focus to come to AOMA?

My divorce launched me out of stay-at-home mom world and I met with a career counselor to decide my next steps. In a brainstorming session, we both realized that helping others through finding health and wellness was my true passion. Acupuncture provided the crossroads between emotional and physical health as this medicine does not separate the two. AOMA was the ideal fit as I was committed to staying in Austin and had already heard wonderful feedback about the program. 

You mentioned that helping others through finding health and wellness was your true passion. Do you think that’s what drew you to psychology too initially?

I was drawn to study psychology as I wanted to work with vulnerable populations. I volunteered at a homeless shelter during high school and was committed to helping at-risk youth from an early age. During college, I worked with veterans with mental illness and substance abuse issues as well as counselor referred youth. I’ve worked with teen moms, gang members, trauma victims, and am committed to helping people find their path to a fulfilling life.

You also mention that acupuncture and Chinese medicine provides "the crossroads between emotional and physical health as this medicine does not separate the two." Can you speak to how, in your opinion and experience, acupuncture and Chinese medicine specifically can improve emotional health?

It was so refreshing to learn that Chinese medicine views emotions and physical health as an integrated experience. Big emotions can impact physical health and compromised physical health can impact emotions. This is so obvious to me and so frustrating when people don’t “get it”. I love learning about specific points, such as the ghost point category, that directly related to emotional health. I hope to delve more deeply into this area of the medicine.

What are some of your favorite classes and/or teachers at AOMA?

I have enjoyed all of my classes and professors at AOMA. The diverse teaching methods and perspectives create wonderful learning opportunities and I have felt incredibly supported by all the staff.  I haven’t had classes with all the faculty yet, but the classes I have taken have been wonderful. Dr. Mandyam and Dr. Shen are two of the most low-key hilarious people. They are both brilliant and their dry senses of humor make their classes amazing. Dr. Cone is such a joy to learn from and his passion is contagious. 

Dr. Tan has the most beautiful, poetic way of explaining Chinese culture to us and helping us understand the larger context of this medicine. Dr. Song and Dr. Zhou’s knowledge of herbs is unreal and their patience as we try to learn from them is unparalleled. Justin Phillips is so generous with his knowledge and always seems happy to take time out of his day to chat about what he has learned. Anne Cusick and Dr. Love are two of the sweetest and smartest cheerleaders always taking the time to help students regain their confidence during their learning curves. 

Robert Laguna is a star. He will bend over backwards to help anyone and he provides students with both big picture and real-world knowledge. Dr. Luo always goes the extra mile bringing in photos and stories of China, his life, and experiences. Dr. Yan & Dr. Xu manage both grace and strength as they teach us Taiji and Qigong with seemingly limitless patience. Dr. Fan is so strong it’s ridiculous and makes Tuina seem easy (spoiler alert: it’s not). And, last but not least, Dr. Wu is as magical as everyone says. 

What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why? Describe so far your experiences as a student at AOMA?

AOMA is such a sweet community of people dedicated to serving people. It has been a balance being a single mom, working, maintaining relationships, having adequate self care and managing the rigorous program, but I have felt incredible support from the students, faculty, and administration. 

Have you started treating as a student intern yet? If so, please describe a unique experience or something that surprised you.

I’ve recently started treating in the student clinics and have been surprised at how incredibly kind the patients have all been even though many are in pain. 

What, if any perceptions of Chinese medicine have changed from when you started the program to now? What vision would you like to see for the future of healthcare?

 Prior to starting at AOMA, I think I viewed Acupuncture as a secondary medicine. I remember someone asking me if I was in medical school and I said, “No, I’m in school for acupuncture.”  Boy was I in for a surprise when I realized I was, in fact, in medical school. The Western world has a way of devaluing the “alternative” and there seems to be an unspoken assumption that one only uses ‘the alternative’ when one cannot get ‘the real thing.’ So, I guess we need to stop calling Chinese Medicine “alternative medicine” or “Eastern medicine” and simply call it what it is: Medicine. 

What are you plans after graduation?

As for my plans after graduation. . . I am blissfully unsure. The current vision is to find a way to get paid to travel the world and offer this medicine all over. I would love to work in a wellness center especially one that has a mobile component. I will also be continuing to raise my incredible daughter, perfect my right hook at the boxing gym, provide coaching and support about relationship/intimacy issues, and spend too much time laughing at memes on the internet. 

Jenna is a student in AOMA's Master's Program. To learn more about our Master's Degree program click below!

Master's Program Fact Sheet

Topics: student spotlight, admissions, acupuncture students, aoma students

5 Books to Read Before Starting Acupuncture School

Posted by Kate Wetzel on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

acupuncture school books

Stepping into the world of traditional Chinese medicine as a student or a patient calls for an openness in acknowledging how tradition and science overlap. Some aspects of traditional Chinese medicine can’t be easily reconciled to a specimen under a microscope, yet the scientific community is increasingly expanding its understanding of how acupuncture and herbal medicine affect the body.

As an intern in the student clinic at AOMA, patients routinely ask why I’m immersed in this field, what the needles are doing, and about this word “qi” that keeps coming up.If you find yourself asking these questions, or are considering a life dedicated to Chinese medical practice, I recommend the following resources to help build your understanding of this medicine before attending acupuncture school.

the_body_electric_robert_becker_gary_selden1. The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life 
Authors: Robert O Becker, MD, and Gary Seldon

Dr. Robert Becker’s writing offers a somewhat-rare voice from the modern medical community that connects compassionate medical care to scientific theory—a connection resonating with many of those curious about Chinese medicine. An orthopedist, Becker, opens his book with a description of his medical school experiences in crowded wards before the discovery and application of penicillin. Exposed as a student to this widespread suffering, he explores what it means to define pain as an objective and subjective experience. So compels his subsequent lifework researching electromagnetism as it shapes and heals our bodies. 

between_heaven_and_earch_beinfield_korngold

2. Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine
Authors: Harriet Beinfeld, LAc and Efrem Korngold, LAc

This text reads almost like an introductory course in Chinese medicine completely accessible to the Western lay reader. Beinfeld and Korngold describe their watershed introduction to Chinese medicine in the 1970s when it was first being introduced in the US. They quickly go through a stepwise comparison of Eastern and Western approaches providing a readable, informative explanation of Yin-Yang theory, the Taoist Five Phases, and tongue and pulse diagnosis—Chinese medicine concepts fundamental to every beginning student.  Rounding out the last chapter is a collection of therapeutic recipes resting on the ubiquitous concept that longevity and vitality require keen understanding of “kitchen alchemy.” Anyone who wants to dive into the world of Chinese medicine through the personal voices of American authors should check out this book.

the_web_that_has_no_weaver_ted_kaptchuk3. The Web that Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine
Author: Ted Kaptchuk, OMD

Like the previous selection, this book holds a place as a foundational staple for new students and curious patients of Chinese Medicine. The Web, however, dives into detail rapidly, quoting readily from classics in the canon of ancient Chinese medical text. It reads less like a personal narrative and more like a compelling cultural textbook. It moves beyond a basic overview of Taoist theory and digs into richer detail of TCM diagnosis, the zang fu (organ) patterns, and meridian system. This book is best appreciated as a cover-to-cover read, appropriate for someone wants to spend time delving into and ruminating on the broader implications of a life in Chinese medical practice.

staying_healthy_with_seasons_elson_haas4. Staying Healthy with the Seasons
Author: Elson M. Haas, M.D.

Many of us who enter the field of Chinese medicine--or merely seek care from an acupuncture and Chinese medical practitioner—appreciate to varying degrees that ancient healing is a life practice and not just a 1-hr session of needles with a bag of medicinal herbs. Staying Healthy with the Seasons fastens a Western life to manageable ancient Eastern practice. It takes the Taoist Five Elements and expands them heartily into a guide for diet, exercise, meditation, and disease prevention. Not only does this book provide great introductory information but also is a bookshelf staple in the homes of wellness-seeking families

the_spark_in_the_machines_daniel_keown5. The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine
Author: Daniel Keown, MD (England)

Dr. Keown commences his book by hitching together a functional definition of qi (“chee”) to the sheet-like bands of tissue under our skin called fascia. He continues in an explanation of how human anatomy develops prenatally, where acupuncture points emerge in this development, and how fully developed meridians course in the mature human body to connect these points. The book uses anatomical references to define more esoteric acupuncture landmarks. Any layperson can pick up this book for a concrete understanding of where and why major points in the body exist. If you have found yourself as an acupuncture patient asking about the where and why of the needling points, definitely check out this text! 

Download  MAcOM Program Fact Sheet

 

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, chinese medicine philosophy, student spotlight, acupuncture school, yin/yang theory, chinese medicine school, admissions

AOMA Student Veteran Spotlight: Tasha Gumpert

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

Tasha Gumpert

Tasha Gumpert veteran

Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Degree Student
Class of 2016

Military Branch: US Army
Rank: Sergeant
Years Served: 4.5

What prompted you to return to school?

I spent four and a half years in the Army. I deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic, and spent my deployment patrolling in combat situations. My deployment affected me tremendously both physically and emotionally. After western medicine failed me I began searching for other healing modalities, and found natural medicine- including Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. I always knew that I was meant for the medical field, but wasn't sure where. The amount of healing I was able to achieve through Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine prompted me to look for a school and enroll. I knew for the first time in my life what my calling was, and had a tremendous need to learn more about it and share it with others.

Why did you choose AOMA? 

My first acupuncture experiences were from people who had attended AOMA, and they were fabulous!!! They encouraged me to check it out. After spending a lot of time searching for/researching schools, it became apparent that AOMA was one of the best schools for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, and here I am...

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

I am currently using the Vocational Rehabilitation program through the VA. It is a program much like the GI bill, but is only for medically retired/disabled veterans. It is an outstanding program. 

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What has your experience been like as a student?

For the most part my experience has been phenomenal. I love the campus, the administration has been more supportive and helpful than I ever could have imagined, all of the teachers/doctors have exceeded my expectations, and most of the student body has been accepting and become a family to me. Going to school this time has been different than before I deployed- I definitely have some different cognitive functioning, and it has taken some time to figure things out and adjust to how my brain works now.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?

My biggest advice is be kind to yourself, and give yourself grace. Some of the discoveries I made about my personal learning process were hard and unexpected- take them in stride, and understand that the school admin knows and understands these things happen, and are there for you. Give yourself room to make adjustments and get to know the scholarly side of yourself again, because it probably won't be the same. Don't be afraid to ask for help or make changes. It is important for you to understand that school in itself can trigger stress responses because it is so challenging at times- if you are prepared for this ahead of time you will be able to deal with it in a much better way. Also, give the same grace to your classmates, they can't ever understand what you've been through or how different you may be, and you should never expect them to. Be proud of what you have done and who you are, embrace your experience and knowledge, and use it to be an outstanding practitioner.

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

 I have only observed [in clinic] thus far, but my strong advice would be to make sure you get acupuncture once a week and take herbs. Take care of yourself, take care of your health needs- especially if you have PTSD or anxiety. I would also recommend staying connected with a social worker or counselor. Situations will arise in clinic that may take you to a place you don't want to go- if you are taking care of yourself and your needs, it will be easier to stay present and focused and deliver a good treatment. Use your ability to relate and experiences to your advantage- your clients will be able to respond to you in a way they couldn't to a civilian, and you will be able to understand them better than a civilian could if they struggle from the same issues. It is incredibly rewarding to see another veteran or trauma victim helped and healed using our medicine, there are few better feelings in the world than seeing someone walk in or out of clinic feeling better than they ever could have imagined! This is a powerful medicine for us, and now is the time to share it. I am honored to be a part of something so great.

Watch a video interview with Tasha

 

 

Topics: student spotlight, veteran affairs

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

Personal Transformation: My First Term in Acupuncture School

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Jun 05, 2014 @ 08:34 AM

Some say that when you move to Austin you will inevitably get a tattoo, eat too many tacos, and feel completely overwhelmed by how bad the traffic is. This may be true, but when I started my first term at AOMA, I underwent a complete inner transformation instead. A lot can happen in just one term, trust me. And now that I am a second-term student, I am going to share with you five things that I experienced during my first term in acupuncture school so you might know what to expect.

During your first term at AOMA graduate school you are likely to:

Try to practice your newly learned acupuncture techniques on everyone you know

My family, roommates, significant other, and whoever happened to be within needles’ length developed a love-hate relationship with my incessant practicing. Eventually, I learned that I wanted to practice needling techniques on people more often than they wanted to let me do it. I wanted to see everyone’s tongue and feel everyone’s pulse. It is important to practice constantly even if you know very little about acupuncture points or pulse and tongue diagnosis. Once you have your first acupuncture techniques class, you might go a little crazy and buy all the moxa and needles you can afford in the AOMA Herbal Medicine store. You may start carrying needles with you everywhere you go. You will become an acupuncturist-in-the-making very quickly. Just don’t get too carried away!

Attempt to diagnose every aspect of your health under the terms of Chinese medicine

Yes, you could have spleen Qi deficiency. But chances are you don’t have every disease you learn about from Dr. Qianzhi Wu in Foundations of Chinese Medicine. You will, however, become very conscious of every aspect of your health, which I would say is a good thing. And while there are probably some of you out there who have your health completely together, I sadly did not. I stopped eating both gluten and dairy in my second month of acupuncture school. And while that has made enjoying pizza almost completely impossible, I am so happy to have done it because I feel so much better! Through several acupuncture appointments, listening to my teachers’ advice, taking plenty of herbs, and using my willpower I was able to wean myself off of all of my medications. You will learn many ways to take your health into your own hands, and you will find a community at AOMA that is very supportive of self-care.

Think your brain has reached maximum occupancy

I remember studying for a particularly difficult Point Location test, and no matter how hard I tried I just could not retain all of that information at once. I thought that my career as an acupuncturist would be over in my first term. And although I did not make an A on that test, I did just fine, anyway. When preparing for an exam I have a tendency to blow things out of proportion and think my world is going to end if I don’t earn an A. Do not be like me! Those who remain calm during test time always seem to make the best grades. There will be times that you just cannot possibly remember everything, especially during exam time. Just always do your best, and don’t stress too much about it. And as one of my favorite teachers taught me — write your questions down! I would like to add that you should also write down everything you would like to remember in general. When it is crunch time, you will want some good notes to work with. Just remember, no matter how intense it gets, it is totally worth it!

Start believing that acupuncture must be magic and that it heals all ailments

At first I was pretty skeptical. I wondered just how exactly a needle in your finger could help the cough you’ve had for a week. But I kept an open mind. You will learn, as I did, that acupuncture can help almost any ailment. If you need some convincing, get a treatment at the clinic. My treatments at the student clinic completely resolved my health problems that I thought I would be stuck with for life. On top of that, it feels like every class includes an introduction to a really cool acupuncture-style party trick. For instance, if you or someone you know is having a nosebleed, you can rub a spot on their foot to make it stop. No, I am not kidding; it really works. And this is just one example. So many things you learn when studying Chinese medicine will change your life. By the time I finished my first term I felt like a completely different and healthier person.

Want to know everything all at once, because being patient is hard (for me)

Patience is not my strong suit. I want to know everything so well that studying becomes trivial and I make A’s on all my tests effortlessly. But it does not work that way. Most of the content you will learn in your courses is so foreign that at first you won’t understand what exactly it is that you are memorizing. While you will have to remember that LU6 is the “Xi-Cleft” point of that channel, it might take you a whole other term to find out what it is exactly that Xi-Cleft points do. But that is okay because patience is a virtue. Just keep swimming!

One of the biggest hurdles of becoming an acupuncturist is having the patience to learn everything and learn it right. It will happen all in due time. Do not be in a huge hurry. I have to remind myself to take it one day at a time and that soon enough I will master the fundamentals of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

jessica johnson acupuncture studentAbout Jessica:

Jessica Johnson is a full-time student within the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program at AOMA. Prior to beginning her studies in Chinese medicine, she completed a bachelor’s degree in Spanish at Austin College. Originally from Sherman, Texas, Jessica moved to Austin to begin her studies during the Winter 2014 term.

 

 

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

Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, masters program

Why I Want to Become an Acupuncturist?

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 09:54 AM

AOMA has a rich student body with diverse backgrounds and interests. We wanted to find out why our learners chose AOMA's Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (MAcOM) program  and more importantly what drew them to become an acupuncturist. Here are their stories in their own words!

acupuncture student Christina KorpikChristina Korpik, Class of 2015

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I want to be an acupuncturist because I am a firm believer in the magic and supremacy of natural medicine’s capacities to treat health imbalances and disease, as well as provide preventive care. Acupuncture helped to transform my own life and health when I was suffering, whereas Western medicine only worsened my conditions. I am fascinated specifically by acupuncture’s ability to trigger homeostasis and instill positive physical change in the body and one’s state of mind, as well as instantly boost an individual’s level of peacefulness with minimal to no side effects. I wanted to become a part of this magical treatment modality and art form that effortlessly taps into the body’s energetic and physical makeup in such a profound way, all the while using the elements of nature systematically as a guide in ways which reinforce the inherent connectedness of all things.

I deeply resonate with the belief that our emotional and spiritual makeup always directly impacts our current state of health and wellbeing, or lack thereof, at any given moment. One of the powers of Chinese medicine as a healthcare modality is its synergy – its ability to combine and use a great variety of diagnostic and treatment tools and modalities in order to treat the totality of a patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, societal, and mental health. Western medicine does not have this ability or power. I believe there is a need for “TRUE” multi-faceted healthcare providers in this country who are capable of offering patients care on these levels, all the while treating them as PEOPLE with diverse needs and circumstances, as opposed to simply another case of (fill in the blank) to toss pharmaceutical drugs or invasive procedures at.

Why did you choose AOMA?

For years leading up to my decision to become a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I had been hearing stories from trusted friends and colleagues of AOMA’s overall prestige and excellence. I had heard countless beautiful accounts of the experienced, talented, and professional staff, practitioners, and professors at AOMA, as well as the incredible and unique student body. One thing that stuck out was constantly hearing of how dedicated EVERYONE – staff and students alike – in the AOMA community was to truly being a reliable and high-quality source of compassion and healing for the greater community.

If I hadn’t already been sold by the reputation of the school and the knowledge of its premier and famous herbal program, I was quickly convinced of the necessity of my attending the graduate program when I realized that the Chinese medicine practitioners who had personally salvaged my own health after many years of unsuccessful treatment from Western medicine had both graduated from AOMA.

diana slivinski acupuncture studentDiana Slivinski, Class of 2014

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?
                           
A year in Taiwan studying Mandarin Chinese began my path of Asian studies.  My first visit to an acupuncturist, a Buddhist monk, left me feeling wonderful…..in body, mind, and spirit.  I loved the well-rounded approach to maintaining health and well-being.  The study of acupuncture and oriental medicine is proving to me that I have chosen the right path.

Why AOMA?

I chose AOMA after looking into several schools because their class schedule and offerings seemed well thought out and organized.  The teaching staff at AOMA is a talented group of scholars from China and abroad.  AOMA offered me what I needed to pursue a new career.  

jessica johnson, future acupuncturistJessica Johnson, Class of 2017

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I am fully committed to what looks like will be three years of intense study, and already I can see that sometimes it is more difficult than it is fun to be a student of acupuncture. Anyone who enters the program knows that it is not always easy. But I will never stop trying to become an acupuncturist because I have seen how rewarding it is to help those who thought there was no help for them. I have been the person who thought I would always be sick, no matter how many medications I was on. Becoming an acupuncturist is not just a livelihood; it is a commitment to care, to love. Those of us who aspire to be acupuncturists realize that we can transform the lives of our patients, and we know that to be valued by those in your care is a true blessing.

Why did you choose AOMA?

Originally, I chose to enroll at AOMA because I knew they had one of the best programs to become an acupuncturist. I knew that they were committed to ensuring a quality education for their students. However, I came to find that AOMA is not just a school. The people you come to know – students, faculty, and teachers – they become your family. They encourage you to ask questions. They support you. They take care of you to the best of their ability. I have found that within AOMA there are students and faculty alike who would help you with anything if you asked. I have only been at the school for a short time but I can already name so many people who I can honestly say have changed my life. Yes, I enrolled because I believe the school and program are the best in the State of Texas, but I stayed because of the people I have come to know here.

 

loubriel sosa, acupuncture studentLoubriel Sosa, Class of 2014

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

We walk through life exploring ourselves; each and every situation reveals a unique expression. As we grow, we assume responsibility over our destiny. Some search and search, and never find their calling. Being an acupuncturist fulfills me and nourishes my being. I want to be an acupuncturist because it calls to me. To experience the joys of healing and to perpetuate the art of love is my destiny.

Why did you choose AOMA?

At first I chose AOMA because of its reputation, but now that I've been a student of this wonderful institution for some time, I recognize that AOMA was the only road for me. It provided me with purpose and direction.

 

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abigail karp, licensed acupuncturistAbigail Karp, Class of 2013

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I want to become an acupuncturist because I was inspired by the amazing acupuncturists and herbalists in my life who helped me regain my own wellness after dealing with complications from Celiac disease. After volunteering at a local community acupuncture clinic, I saw how this gentle and peaceful way of healing was making such a huge improvement in the quality of life for many different kinds of people.

Why did you choose AOMA?

I chose AOMA because I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and the sense of community the school fosters among students and faculty. Austin is such a vibrant city, and I feel that AOMA is a vibrant acupuncture school! I appreciate the ways that it is changing and evolving to meet the needs of the students and patients it serves. 

 

michael callaghan, oriental medicine studentMichael Callaghan, Class of 2017

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I really don’t want to be an acupuncturist – I want to be a practitioner of Oriental medicine, which includes acupuncture. My goal of becoming a practitioner of TCM is to give back to a community of people, the Armed Forces, who need an alternative to traditional Western medicine.  As a veteran, I experienced military medicine, which is normally focused at putting the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine back to work and not effectively treating the causes of the illness or injury. I believe that TCM offers an alternative to taking medications which cover the overall symptoms; instead, TCM treats the symptoms for long-term beneficial health gains. If I can help just a small percentage of the active, reserve, or formerly active-duty community by providing comprehensive care through the principles of TCM, I will have accomplished my goal.

Why did I choose AOMA?

While there are many choices, AOMA offers an integrative approach, which I believe is key to future success. AOMA has a great success rate academically, which it is reflected in the high percentage of its graduates who find employment immediately after completion of the program. Lastly, the staff and faculty of the school treat everyone as individuals and are supportive in assisting you to obtain your goals.

 

elizabeth arris, acupuncture studentElizabeth Arris, Class of 2015

Why do you want to be an acupunct

urist?

For so many reasons!  Being an acupuncturist is a career that offers many opportunities every day to support another person in feeling well. I enjoy holding space for patients to be mindful of their physical sensations and emotional experiences, which are so often ignored during busy lives. When patients share their pains, discomforts, and vulnerabilities with me, I feel honored to be a guardian of that information and am grateful for the chance to practice using the power of my position and education in a way that is appropriate, heart-centered, and helpful.  Perhaps most of all, I love being part of a health-conscious community of healers where my personal wellbeing is valued as much as my productivity.

Why did you choose AOMA?

I think a degree from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine (AOMA) keeps many doors open:  AOMA is regionally accredited, meaning their credits may transfer to other non-TCM schools (which is uncommon); and

AOMA grads have the option to apply for a California license (which is also uncommon for acupuncture schools outside of California). Additionally, AOMA is committed to continued development of the clinical training and biomedical components of its curriculum, providing students the tools necessary to feel comfortable in both integrative medicine environments and TCM environments. 

Over the past three years at AOMA, I have also grown to appreciate other aspects of the school, particularly the strength of the herbal program and the warmth of the Qigong community. As a lifelong dancer, my passion for movement evolved naturally into a love for the graceful, purposeful Sheng Zhen Qigong form featured at AOMA.  Although Sheng Zhen’s Master Li was not a primary factor in my choosing AOMA, I’ve come to view him as one of AOMA’s treasures and one of my anchors within the AOMA community.

 

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Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, masters program

DAOM Student Spotlight: Pamela Gregg Flax

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 01:53 PM

Pamela Gregg Flax   DAOMFor Pamela Gregg Flax, a New Mexico-based practitioner and student in AOMA’s new doctoral program, the efficacy and magic of Chinese medicine have never been a question. Chinese medicine has been her primary form of healthcare for 25 years -- but her decision to become a practitioner came as a surprise, even to her.

Early in her career, she worked in the arts and in environmental philanthropy in Los Angeles. Pamela moved to Santa Fe to marry the man who is now her husband and began learning a healing form called Sat Nam Rasayan (SNR). SNR is a meditative technique described as a traditional healing based on self-consciousness alone. This healing tradition is a ‘familiar’ to Craniosacral Therapy, but comes from the lineage of Kundalini yoga.

“I thought that my interest in SNR was to improve my meditation skills, but I discovered a love of healing,” Pamela says.

On a trip back to LA, Pamela told her acupuncturists that she wished she could do what they do. They encouraged her, and that was all it took—she was in school for her master’s degree in Chinese medicine a few weeks later. “The art of Chinese medicine still speaks to my core, as its subtle power and poetry continue to amaze, delight, and humble me,” she says.

Pamela DAOMPamela describes her path to AOMA as “intuitive and visceral.” After she completed her master’s degree program in New Mexico, she enrolled in two year-long continuing education programs. However, something wasn’t right about the decision.

“The plumbing started leaking in my office and home, and I could feel a weird tremor in my body, like I was jittery or resisting the force of a fast off-camber turn on my bicycle,” she says. “As soon as I accepted that I was headed in the wrong direction and withdrew from the classes, the tremor vanished and the leaks stopped. I was disappointed, but took heart in knowing that a strong current was moving me forward, albeit in an unknown direction.” 

Pamela doctor of oriental medicineA couple of months later, Pamela started studying pulse diagnosis with Dr. William Morris. When she asked him about AOMA’s new doctoral program, he said, “The first cohort starts on Wednesday. What do you want to know?” and she felt that moment of recognition, an inexorable pull of destiny, that the path of her life would now shift in an unexpected yet welcome way. She expects to graduate from AOMA’s doctoral program in 2015. Her initial research topic – How Chinese Medicine Can Intervene in Multigenerational Trauma – is changing her practice.

“I feel lucky to be at AOMA at this point in my career because it’s re-shaping me and my practice in the most unexpected ways. My query has led me to the field of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Philosophically and practically I’m exploring the role that creativity plays in a vibrant life. I’m studying for the ABORM certification, connecting with Santa Fe birthing centers, and treating pregnant women. I love my work more than ever.” Pamela says. “And I love AOMA. It’s a strong institution with excellent resources: a ‘deep bench’ of teachers and fellow doctoral students, a stellar herbal pharmacy, and great leadership. Dr. Morris and Dr. Finnell have developed a DAOM program that has the potential to help move integrative medicine and medical inquiry forward with integrity, and I’m glad to be part of it.”

pamela bicycleOutside of AOMA, Pamela has a new practice at her own clinic, Full Well Acupuncture, which she spends a considerable amount of time cultivating. She’s not only a former competitive cyclist, Kundalini yoga teacher, and Qigong practitioner – she’s also an artist who especially loves visual arts, theatre/performance, architecture and design. Her husband is an actor and director who runs a theater company in Santa Fe, so Pam calls herself a “theater wife/widow.”

“We try to keep up with our old adobe house and resuscitate our land,” she says. “Now that I’m attending school in the land of music and everyone in Austin plays at least one instrument, I’m trying learning to play a recorder. I’m kind of terrible but having fun, and I’m getting ready to order a Chinese flute called the bawu.”

One of Pamela’s proudest achievements since she started studying Chinese medicine is making a believer out of her husband.

“He hates receiving acupuncture but insisted that I treat his last good knee after he tore his meniscus,” Pamela says. “He feels that the treatments helped heal his knee and prevented imminent surgery, and I’m thrilled to report that he is finally able to relax when he has acupuncture.”

Pamela is also very pleased to have helped a woman with a high-risk pregnancy go full term and have a healthy baby. She also enjoyed helping people avoid joint replacement surgeries and lumbar fusions, arrest the development of macular degeneration and begin a reversal process, heal or manage a new life with traumatic brain injuries, and feel some peace in transforming old emotional pain.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some challenges along her path.

Pamela and her mentor thought that they would go into practice after she graduated from her master’s degree program, but after visiting China, Pam felt moved to practice differently and knew that their paths would diverge. Telling him was painful for both of them, but – “acquiescing to truth is liberating,” she says. “I had to trust my instincts.”

Pamela loves the poetry and metaphor inherent in the theory of Chinese medicine and the way that the medicine seems to reveal more and more according to the depth of the practitioner. She is also deeply appreciative of “the focus on continual cultivation of the human spirit of the practitioner and the patient; and its simultaneous complexity and simplicity.”

“Years ago I vowed to live my life out of love and not fear,” Pamela says. ”I love this medicine. Thank you to everyone at AOMA for moving so dynamically and with such kindness to join my river with yours.”

Her advice to other students?

“Enjoy the journey. Trust the medicine. Trust yourself.”

 

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Topics: student spotlight, transformation, doctoral program, DAOM

Archetypal Liberal Arts Major Goes Rogue, Studies Acupuncture

Posted by Justine Meccio on Mon, Mar 03, 2014 @ 01:10 PM

First, I’ll tell you that 18 months ago I was established in a career while yearning to go back to school, expand my life practices, and further devote myself to meaningful professional change. Now, a current student at AOMA, I just finished my 5th term.  At no point have I looked back, although I never would have predicted my life would take this path. In 2002, I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English that included extensive studies in calculus and Flemish art history. I felt like the prototype of liberal arts major, qualified for everything in general but nothing in particular—or so I told myself.

When I first thought about studying Traditional Chinese Medicine

It was 9 years ago when I first thought about studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. The thought lasted about 5 minutes, extinguished when I recalled that my science background consisted of contrasting types of volcanoes in my undergraduate geology class. I was intimidated by the natural science component included in acupuncture & Chinese medicine programs. My extensive knowledge of Renaissance poetry, for all its complexity, would not help me differentiate tendons in the wrist. My essays on the ethics of historical scholarship would not equip me to understand how a virus invaded the body. And somehow enrolling in the local community college at night to get my science prerequisites just to apply to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) program seemed too daunting. At the time, it simply wouldn’t fit into my life, so I gave up hopes of being an acupuncturist.

For the next decade my career progressed in education business management and then teaching special education in public schools. While in these positions, I truly felt that I helped heal children as I taught. No matter what I did, I was a healer at heart. The nagging thought of practicing TCM returned. Finally, I visited AOMA’s website.

That’s when I realized that everything I believed for those nine years was wrong.

Reviewing the admissions requirements for the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program showed me I did qualify to apply despite my limited natural science background. I realized the graduate program included all of the western medicine courses I thought I would need to complete in advance.

After looking on the school’s website, I scheduled a tour of the campus and talked to some current students. Within a few days I realized that this was the real thing, and I could do it. In fact, the liberal arts major in me realized that I could make a darn fine TCM student.

Discovering the Human Body

The biomedical sciences curriculum at AOMA is delivered by experienced instructors who have insight into anatomy and pathology that is particularly relevant to an acupuncturist. Dr. Joel  Cone, who I met in my first week at AOMA, knew I needed encouragement and was very helpful.

My first term within the master’s program, I started taking anatomy and physiology. The biomedicine series continued and I took microbiology and pathophysiology. I spent a full year diving into the human body, the muscles, bones, organ systems, and microorganisms inside and outside of us. I began to walk around looking at everyone, imagining I could see the sinews and tendons underneath their skin moving in a choreographed dance as they walked. After that first year, I felt  as though  I had developed a magical power to see through skin to inspect everything on the inside.  When my throat and lungs got irritated in in the winter, I imagined the tissues trying to expel pathogens rather than thinking about getting sick. The human body came to life as an amazing machine, and I experienced it as a new piece of scientific art that I inhabited.

Integration

Don’t get me wrong, every acupuncture student and practitioner must be able to name the tendons in the wrist and understand how a virus invades the body—along with all the bones, muscles, blood constituents, and more. This biomedical background is essential to a Chinese medicine practitioner who must know how to communicate with and build a treatment plan for patients with biomedical diagnoses. However, TCM is made of the desire to heal as much as the knowledge of science. I’ve tried to put my finger on that “thing” that drew me to this field of study and practice. Sure, it was easy to say that I wanted to help people, that it gave me a sense of satisfaction to help those who are sick feel better. But there is also something else. I had previously studied literature and art and TCM fit into an amazing framework of culture and philosophy that I found exciting at an academic and personal level. My knowledge of this framework in a more abstract unscientific view helped me see TCM embedded as a cultural orientation that fit my spirit.

With my liberal arts background, I realized I simply and beautifully had even more to integrate into my journey as a healer.

Kate Wetzel ImageAbout Kate Wetzel:
Kate is a graduate student within AOMA’s Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program. Prior to beginning her studies in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine she completed a BA in English at Trinity University and worked as special education teacher for the Austin Independent School District.

 

 

 

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Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, student spotlight, acupuncture school, transformation, curriculum, liberal arts

Acupuncture Student Spotlight: Isabelle Chen-Angliker

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Mar 03, 2014 @ 12:34 PM

acupuncture school studentIsabelle Chen-Angliker, a pediatrician from Switzerland, was never fully satisfied with the Western medical approach. She did not agree with the method of funneling patients into an increasingly sub-specialized medical system. She was concerned with the discrepancy of more sophisticated diagnostics vs. the lack of treatment options that are both minimally invasive and without significant side effects. 

Isabelle was always looking for more holistic and integrative healing modalities, but there was not much complementary training available in Switzerland at the time she went through medical school except for homeopathy and manual therapy: “Even chiropractors got their training in the U.S.,” she said.

When Isabelle moved to Austin in 2008, she began taking her daughter -- then just 18 months old -- to Heartsong Music, a music school located near AOMA’s former campus in north Austin. In this process she also began admiring AOMA next door and dreaming of studying Oriental medicine herself.  In 2009 she went through Hatha Yoga teacher training, which to her served as a “baby step” before entering the AOMA graduate program. In 2010 she began searching for alternative treatments for her young son with ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome, which inspired her to finally enroll in AOMA’s Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program.

As Isabelle nears graduation, she has finally found a style of medicine that deeply resonates with her. What especially appeals to her about Chinese medicine’s integrative and holistic perspective on healing is its individualized treatment approach tailored to the needs of patients and its applications and modifications involving art and intuition. Isabelle loves that the practitioner-patient relationship in Chinese medicine is “a give and take rather than consumer or hierarchy oriented relationship” -- and gone are her concerns about the invasive treatments of Western medicine. Chinese medicine is all about “Doing NO harm, and providing an effective yet pleasant and relaxing treatment,” she said.

Through her path to becoming a practitioner of Chinese medicine, Isabelle has learned to make mistakes and be patient with herself -- that it’s okay to not be perfect. For Isabelle, these are important achievements in light of the courage it took for her to return to school after years in a different field of medicine. Through this process, she has overcome her fear of failure, while also conquering a language barrier and culture shock.

Outside of her busy career and studies, Isabelle leads a very full and happy life as mother of two children: Lenny, 11 years old and Celia, 6 1/2 years old. She spends her free time volunteering at her children’s school, taking them to music, piano and ballet lessons as well as on field trips to places such as Enchanted Rock and parks around the city. She also loves to swim, do yoga, craft, read, play music and dance, and hopes to one day mastermind an herbal and vegetable garden like her grandmother’s.

Some of Isabelle’s greatest achievements during her time at AOMA include reports from her returning patients’ about the improvement in their health issues and stress management; her own lifestyle changes and increase in mind-body awareness; and inspiring her patients to embark on their own journeys seeking health and happiness through her sharing of passions for healthy food, movement, and nature.

Of course, like any graduate student in a medical program, she has faced many challenges as well. These include scheduling conflicts with her two children and busy husband, performance anxiety, and learning to pace herself.

Isabelle has worked steadily to overcome these by planning ahead, constantly refining her organizational skills, and avoiding procrastination. She also cites the importance of reflecting and pausing, revisiting her original call to go back to school, and always striving to see the big picture. “Treating patients is rewarding, encouraging and my main motivator even when I feel stuck, drained, exhausted or overwhelmed,” she said.

When asked what advice she would give to other students, she had a lot of insight to share:

  • Get regular acupuncture treatments yourself -- even before starting the program

  • Plan well, practice plenty of self-care and take breaks to avoid burnout

  • Find balance and keep mind and body connected

  • Communicate concerns and challenges: Follow a “problem meets solution” strategy

  • Correspond with student peers and share ups and downs with friends and family.

And as for the most transformational experiences she has had since starting on the path of Chinese medicine? “Feeling the instant benefits of acupuncture on my own mind and body -- the powerful effect of the needles as well as immediate and long term benefits of Chinese herbs,” she said. “I love when patients give me that look of ‘What did you just do to me?’ or say ‘I feel so relaxed,’ ‘I feel so much better,’ ‘My pain is almost gone,’ or just give a big sigh of relief.”

 

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Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, transformation

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