Massage Therapists Advance Career, Study Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Posted on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 @ 09:49 AM

AOMA has an incredibly diverse student body that consists of gifted practitioners with a wide variety of different histories, ethnicities, and hometowns. Many students come into their studies already having obtained a background in a particular healing modality or healthcare field. Specifically, a great deal of talented massage therapists have chosen to further their education by studying Chinese Medicine and herbal medicine at AOMA. We decided to interview them and share their knowledge and stories around returning to school after receiving massage training and combining the two complementary modalities.
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Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Ammathyst Rose

What prompted you to return to school?

Returning to school was always part of the master plan. My decision to get my massage license was to assist me in being able to pay the bills while returning to school, but the Universe must have felt I wasn’t ready to do that for another five years because, I wasn’t generating enough cash to make it easy to drop down to a part time worker and a full time student. Also, I still had a young child at home which required more home responsibility.

Why did you choose AOMA?

It has the reputation for being a good school and it’s regionally accredited which is an important factor for licensure. I had looked at another school in Hawaii because a friend had recommended it, and I thought with the amount of projects, friends and adventures I had going on, living here in Austin would make it very difficult to study and do well. Plus, it was Hawaii, need I say more? But my child did not want to move to Hawaii. So, when I let go of the idea of moving to there, staying in Austin and attending AOMA just clicked. I had an “Ah-ha” moment and after that, the process unfolded quite easily.

What is your background in massage therapy?

I have worked in the clinic setting at Collette Zygmonts Chiropractics and 27 Bones podiatry clinic. Polished my spa skills at the Woodhouse Day Spa and The Austin Omni Downtown. I have done volunteer work for Power to the Peaceful in San Francisco. I have offered massage at yoga conferences such as Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree, and Tadasana Fest in Santa Monica, California.  I have also had my own practice for the past 8 years.  

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

As a bodyworker, I felt like I had worked through the initial awkwardness of working rather intimately with other people’s bodies – some times total strangers – so I was able to hop into the role of being a practitioner fairly smoothly. I had also developed a relationship with the anatomy of the body through massage and so this particular aspect of learning at AOMA, whether it be locating the acupuncture points by way of feeling them with my hands or understanding verbal description of body landscape. Also physical assessment and Anatomy and Physiology classes were a bit easier because I had already studied those as part of the massage school curriculum.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

I have had a great experience. There are great teachers here and AOMA is very supportive and full of a lot of good people. 

What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Jump on board! Keep up your massage therapy skills, and see how you can keep helping people, but in an expanded way.

 

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Vanessa HuffmanPicture2-1

What prompted you to return to school?
The physical nature of doing massage full-time for many years lead me to realize that I was going to need to return to school for something more sustainable. I was in the process of applying to law school when I became a patient of TCM. The experiences I had with my acupuncturist (who was also a licensed massage therapist) really opened up my interest in TCM and showed me that what I really wanted was to continue my path in the healing arts. After reading “The Web That Has No Weaver” and “Between Heaven and Earth” at his suggestion, I was fascinated. The rest is history!
Why did you choose AOMA?

I transferred to AOMA after realizing that I wanted my TCM education to be strong in both herbs and acupuncture as well as containing biomedical integration.

What is your background in massage therapy?

I received my training from The New York Institute of Massage. It’s a very medically grounded, and oddly enough, Shiatsu heavy curriculum. After graduating, I followed my passion for medical massage but quickly found that I was experiencing very powerful energetic experiences with many clients. This led me to discover Reiki and I am now a Certified Level 1 practitioner. Over the course of my career, I also absolutely fell in love with Ashiatsu. I took an advanced Ashiatsu training in 2011 and have been working almost exclusively in this modality ever since. It’s a technique where you hold onto bars suspended from the ceiling and massage clients with your feet! AWESOME!

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

I was a small business owner as a massage therapist, but I also networked with a lot of other therapists and healthcare professionals. I think this has prepared me well for the realities and logistics of setting up a successful acupuncture practice.

In terms of clinical context and patient care, I’ve had the honor of building very profound therapeutic relationships with my massage clients. These relationships have taught me a lot about working with different personality types, energy profiles and dynamics in order to achieve therapeutic results. Each patient teaches me how to be their healer and in return, this process makes me both a more skilled practitioner and a more compassionate human being. All of the interactions and lessons learned (both successes and failures) doing massage inform my current interaction with TCM patients.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

Studying TCM has been both a challenging and gratifying experience academically, personally, professionally and spiritually. It has fundamentally changed the way I see and interact with myself, others and the world around me for the better.

What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Studying TCM will be challenging but it will be worth it! Everything you already know tactilely and intuitively from being a bodyworker will apply and be an advantage to you (and your patients), especially when working in clinic. An education in TCM will help you master powerful healing tools that will be able to impact state change in patients on a level that massage therapy alone has difficulty achieving. Studying TCM will deepen your ability to help others as a healer.

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Gene Kuntz IIPicture3-1

What prompted you to return to school?

When I was a kid I watched Kung Fu movies all the time. In one of my favorites, "Hard to Kill" with Steven Segal, not only did he use acupuncture on himself with smoke coming off the ends (what I now know is moxa) he said, "anyone can hurt someone, it takes a true master to heal." That was the first time I really became inspired to learn about Oriental Medicine. Years later, while studying Martial Arts, my master was able to not only kick through baseball bats but also help heal his students with Tui Na, acupuncture and massage. That was it! I figured I had learned how to fight long enough and would learn to heal people and myself. The next step for me was obvious: to get a feel for the energy and mechanics of the body with massage therapy before furthering my education with Oriental Medicine. Step one: check.

 
Why did you choose AOMA? 

First, I should say that I chose Austin. It is an amazing city and only five hours from my home, and what can I say? I love my family. Of the two schools in Austin, I chose AOMA initially because of what I had read of Master Li and the qigong program. When I found out I didn't have enough hours to attend AOMA I started my Oriental Medicine education at THSU, the other acupuncture school here in Austin just a stones throw away. Whenever I had enough credits to attend AOMA, I had to make a choice of whether to stay at THSU or transfer to AOMA. Both schools have amazing teachers and have acupuncturists graduate several times a year. I chose AOMA for three reasons:

1. The credits I receive from AOMA can be transferred to a credited University.

2. The number of clinic opportunities and community outreach they provide.

3. The professionalism with which I was received the first time I walked in the door.

What is your background as a massage therapist?

I have been a massage therapist for 6 years. I received my license in Lake Charles, LA, at the Louisiana Institute of Massage Therapy. The owner of the school was Susan Salvo, who literally wrote the book on massage therapy. (Seriously, most schools in the U.S. use her book. ) After I graduated, I got a list of every massage therapy place in town and began calling them asking for a job. After a few days, I started at Massage Clinique and apprenticed under a talented sports and deep tissue therapist. Next, I got a job at Lake Charles's claim to fame, Lau Berge du lac, the local casino. I worked there for 4 years before moving to Austin. While in Austin, I have worked at Woodhouse Day Spa, Hess Chiropractic, Massage Harmony and am currently employed at what has become literally one of my favorite places to ever work: milk + honey day spa. In that time, I have had training in: Repetitive Use Injury Therapy, Medical Massage, Supreme Science Qi Gong, Reiki, along with a myriad of spa treatments.

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

Massage therapy has helped me in so many ways as a student of Oriental Medicine. I am comfortable doing intakes with clients/patients. I am aware of my energy and the energy of others, and how they can affect one another. I have become familiar with insurance billing and other administrative aspects of the business. From intake to treatment plan, the process is similar whether giving massage or performing acupuncture. The most important impact massage has had on my Oriental Medicine skills is my sensitivity to touch, feel and palpate. It will be my hands and my ability to feel that guide the needle.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

My experience at AOMA has been awesome. I came in as a transfer knowing about three people, and my first semester landed me in about 4 different cohorts. Lots of people to meet. In every class I felt welcome and am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many people in such a short time. With just a few terms in, it already feels like home. As far as academia, the school is legitimate. A serious endeavor with four years and a big chunk of change.
 
What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Massage Therapy has been great to me while in school. It has given me a source of income and allowed me to feel more bodies as I learn a new art. If you are coming into Oriental Medicine school, be aware that it is much more intense than massage therapy school; a longer time and financial commitment. When I first looked into Oriental Medicine school I had no idea of the intensity that would ensue. Think of getting a master's degree in any other subject: it is like that. So, if you're thinking of studying Oriental Medicine, get ready for some intense awesomeness. This schooling has brought my knowledge to a level that I thought I could only find being trained by a sage on a mountain in China, and I still have a year left. My advice... if you're interested in studying healing arts for a good portion of your life, sign up.

 

Massage therapist/Acupuncturist in Training: Jessica Healy    Picture1-5

What prompted you to return to school?

I decided to return to school because I felt that during massage sessions the body was communicating more information to me than I had skills to interpret. I felt like there was more I could be doing for my clients if I could only learn how to understand better the feedback that the body was giving me. So, I decided to try and expand my knowledge through acupuncture, which has proven to be very useful. I also returned to school because after five years of practicing massage it was beginning to take a toll on my body. So, I wanted something I could do that would be a nice addition to my massage practice but would also give my hands and body a bit of a break. 
 
Why did you choose AOMA? 

I chose AOMA because they have a strong herbal program, they have a great national reputation, and because my acupuncturist at the time recommended it to me, despite graduation from another school.  Once, I visited AOMA I was sold on the good energy, friendly people and nice learning environment found on campus.

What is your background as a massage therapist?

I graduated from The Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy in 2007. From there I went on to work in several different environments, from spas to wellness centers as well as having a small private practice on the side. The type of massage I enjoy the most is integrative deep tissue and CranioSacral work.

How has your massage therapy background impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

My massage background has helped me greatly in the clinical setting, and has enhanced my learning process. Already being comfortable touching and talking with people has helped me to be able to dive right in and focus on the Chinese medicine theories, without worrying about developing those basic skills.

What has your experience been like as an acupuncture student?

Being a student at AOMA has been life changing. It has been a challenging, but also very rewarding experience. 

What advice do you have for other massage therapists returning to school?

Returning to school is a big commitment and it is easy to lose yourself amongst all the books, so be sure to set aside time for yourself to do something you love. :)

 

Topics: acupuncture school, chinese medicine school, herbal program, massage

Type 3 Diabetes: Sugar-induced Alzheimer’s?

Posted on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 10:50 AM

Why a poor diet may be contributing to a rise in age-related cognitive problems

We often use the way our body looks as the barometer for health, but what if it was your brain that was suffering the consequences of our sugar addiction? New research suggests that Alzheimer's disease is intrinsically linked to insulin resistance of the brain and may be, in the most simplified terms, diabetes of the brain or Type 3 diabetes.

Millions of Americans with insulin resistance problems like Type 2 diabetes are being ravaged by health concerns, including heart disease, which is still the number-one cause of death in the United States, as well as a host of other maladies like eye problems, kidney disease, and neuropathy, to name a few.

Most of us are familiar to some degree with diabetes, but at times it can be confusing. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin and is something one is born with. Type 2 diabetes is acquired and used to be labeled “adult onset” until we saw the spike in childhood cases in recent years. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a breakdown of the body’s insulin receptors and is typically associated with over-consumption of processed carbohydrates and sugar. So what’s Type 3 diabetes? It appears to be an insulin resistance of the brain, causing memory problems and personality changes; in essence, Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease, discovered more than a century ago, is characterized by amyloid plaques building up in the brain, contributing to cognitive problems such as memory loss and personality changes. For as much as is known, it’s still a largely mysterious disease.

In 2005, a neuropathologist from Brown University, Suzanne de la Monte, published her research proposing that for those with Alzheimer's the brain has become insulin resistant and essentially the brain cells are starving to death. This appears to be especially true in the parts of the brain that have to do with memory and personality.

So what does this mean in Traditional Chinese Medicine? A few of AOMA’s most knowledgeable teachers and supervisors weighed in on the issue.

Dr. "Nelson" Song Luo explained some aspects to consider:

“In TCM, insulin resistance is related to stagnation of the Liver qi that begins to over-control the Spleen. Because of this, the Spleen either cannot generate blood, causing poor memory, or phlegm will accumulate which disturbs the memory. We call this phlegm ‘misting the mind.’ Memory issues are the primary early manifestation in Alzheimer’s disease.”

When exploring this further, AOMA’s Dr. Yongxin Fan brought up that in TCM, the brain is called the Sea of Marrow and is controlled by the energetics of the Kidney. If there is chronic Spleen and Kidney qi deficiency, which is what we will often see in Type 2 diabetes, it stands to reason that the Sea of Marrow, the brain, would be impacted by this.

Dr. Qianzhi “Jamie” Wu added that Type 3 diabetes likely involves the energetics of the Heart, Kidney, and Spleen, and is a complex condition involving both excesses and deficiencies in the body.

“We know that memory is supported by blood and essence. Poor memory could be a result of Heart blood and Kidney essence deficiency. To be more specific, the short-term memory is supported by Heart blood, while the remote memory by Kidney essence.”

Wu also suggests that the excess would be seen from phlegm misting the mind, leading to symptoms of forgetfulness and personality change. All of this leads back to the Spleen “as the source of blood, source of phlegm, and the postnatal root of essence.”

Wu notes that some TCM experts believe that what we call the Spleen in Chinese medicine is very similar to the pancreas in biomedicine. “Therefore, the TCM treatment should also focus on these three organs, but the Spleen could be the most important one among these three.”

Additionally, sugar in all its forms—white starches to straight off the cane—can cause dampness and damp retention in the body. Dampness is a result of poor diet and digestion when the energetics of the Spleen is not functioning properly. It’s that heavy feeling you may know so well. Slow to get moving until you mainline a pot of coffee. It can affect the body and the thought process, so theoretically the dampness could accumulate in the brain in a more permanent way with years of neglect. Dampness transforming into invisible phlegm which causes those cognitive changes.

There are myriad reasons to moderate our consumption of processed foods, and this is just another in a long list. For now, listen to your body and talk with your healthcare team, including your acupuncturist, if you have concerns about poor memory, lack of mental clarity, and insulin resistance.

About the author:

lauren_st_pierre_acupunctureLauren St. Pierre-Mehrens, MAcOM, L.Ac

A recent graduate of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Lauren is in the process of setting up her practice, earthspring | acupuncture.

Lauren has begun working with the Texas Center for Reproductive Acupuncture to support their staff, and she continues to work with The American Cancer Society as a cancer information specialist.  

She has lived in Austin since 2006 by way of Lake Tahoe, California, and counts Austin as her home with her husband and two Boston terriers.

Topics: Dr. Yongxin Fan, Dr. Qianzhi Wu, Dr. Song Luo, alzheimer's

Winter Recipes for Optimal Health according to Chinese Medicine Nutrition

Posted on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 10:22 AM

With the gluttony of Thanksgiving behind us and a just few weeks until the next-biggest eating holidays of the year, maybe it is time to give your body what it is yearning for: nourishment. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) nutrition principles, during the winter months our energy begins to move inward. It is a time of quietude and the best season to tonify and store essence internally. We asked two of our esteemed faculty members to share their favorite recipes for the season. We hope you enjoy!

Winter Tonic Oxtail Soup

Dr. Violet Song recommends this Winter Tonic Oxtail Soup. It is warm in nature and is a great kidney yang tonic. It’s a superb dish for the winter season! Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) calls for “Winter Daikon, Summer Ginger.” Winter cold can bring the coagulation of qi flow in the human body. The oxtail can be so much of a tonic that it can be too greasy, but the daikon can move qi and offset this consistency. The soup can be served 1-2 times per week all through the winter.

tcm nutrition daikon

Ingredients:
1 lb oxtail
1 tbsp cooking wine
Water
1 lb daikon radish
Carrots, greens (optional)
Salt
Cilantro as garnish (optional)

Instructions:
1.    Chop the oxtail into 1-inch cubes.
2.    Put the oxtail cubes into pan with 1 tbsp of cooking wine and 1 cup of water. Boil for 5 minutes.
3.    Strain the liquid and use warm water to wash the oxtail cubes.
4.    Put the washed oxtail cubes in a crock pot with plenty of water (more water, more soup) and stew for 3 hours.
5.    Cut the daikon radish into 1-inch cubes. Add the daikon radish to the crock pot with the oxtail and continue to stew for 1 more hour. You may add other vegetables, like carrots and greens, depending on how long they will take to cook.
6.    Add salt to taste. You may garnish with cilantro.

tcm nutrition oxtail soup

Ginseng and Walnut Congee

Dr. Grace Tan recommends Ginseng and Walnut Congee for a healthy sweet treat in the wintertime. This rice porridge boosts the qi and warms the kidneys. It also calms the spirit and generates moisture in a typically very dry season. It is not suitable for patients with a cold or fever.

nutrition ginseng

Ingredients:
5g ginseng
½ cup walnuts
2½ cups rice
Water
¼ cup honey


Instructions:
1.    Soak ginseng in water at room temperature until soft. Cut into small cubes.
2.    Place first four ingredients in a clay pot and add more water. You can also do this in a crock pot, although if you do it overnight, make sure to add extra water.
3.    Bring the pot to the boil on high heat, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
4.    Add honey and continue to simmer until the soup turns into a paste-like consistency.

tcm nutrition walnut congee

Get more traditional Chinese medicine nutrition tips as well as a recipe for each seaon by downloading our TCM guide to nutrition.

Topics: nutrition

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

Posted on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

How Stress Affects the Body

Our bodies are hardwired to handle stress, but over time too much stress takes a toll on the body.  When we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system is activated causing the heart rate to increase, the pupils to dilate, and blood to be directed towards the extremities. Digestion can temporarily shut down. This is also known as the "fight or flight" response and is why when we are stressed, we may feel agitated or want to run away from our problems. Cortisol, sometimes called “the stress hormone”, is also released, causing increases in both blood pressure and inflammation while suppressing the immune system. If our bodies continue to experience high amounts of cortisol, symptoms can evolve into anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive issues and tension headaches.

Stress is defined as an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures. In a medical or biological context stress  is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).

Chinese Medicine for Stress Relief

In Chinese medical theory, strong emotions like stress interrupt the body’s energy from acupuncture for stressflowing smoothly. When these strong emotions are present for long periods of time they create a blockage in the body’s “road” system creating an energetic “traffic jam.”  Acupuncture increases the circulation of blood and oxygenates the tissues throughout the body while cycling out cortisol and releasing natural pain-killers called endorphins. Other benefits of acupuncture include decreasing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing the muscles to help the body feel less stressed.

The traditional Chinese medicine approach is to focus on restoring the balance of energy in the body, such as soothing the liver Qi, tonifying the liver blood and spleen Qi, clearing the heat in the heart and liver, etc. A combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are generally applied and combined to treat stress; diet therapy and exercise is suggested as well.

Case Studies from AOMA professor, Dr. Yongxin Fan

Dr. Yongxin Fan has over 20 years of clinical experience in treating muscular-skeletal Yongxin Fan acupuncturistdisorders, pain, digestive disorders, and psycho-emotional disorders including stress.

“One patient had intense stress from her job and was having insomnia. I treated her with acupuncture and the herbal formula wen dan tang. After the first treatment she was sleeping much better and after two weeks the stress was much reduced.

A patient with more severe stress symptoms (anxiety, panic attack, insomnia, and heart palpitations) recovered in 3 weeks after receiving acupuncture and taking the herbal formulas gui pi tang & huang lain e jiao tang.

Sometimes the symptoms are less severe but still can be debilitating. I had a patient who complained that ever since childhood she cried very easily, making her uncomfortable. I gave her acupuncture and Chinese herbs (xiao yao wan & gan mai da zao tang), and after 2 months she is much better.”

Chinese Herbs for Stress

Chinese herbsThe most commonly prescribed Chinese herbal formulas for stress are xiao yao wan (also known as “Free and Easy Wanderer”), gan mai da zao tang, chai hu shu gan san, yi guan jian, yue ju wan, and gui pi tang. To find out the right herbs for you, make an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. The practitioner will take a full medical history and do pulse and tongue diagnosis to determine the best acupuncture plan and herbal prescription.

Exercise and Diet for Stress

Exercise should be a part of everyone’s stress management plan, as it helps the body produce more endorphins, also known as the “runner’s high”. Many types of physical activity can stimulate this response and each person must find the right type of exercise for him or herself. For some, walking is enough, but others will want to get more of a workout to get their blood pumping and break a sweat.

Taiji, qigong, and meditation are forms of mind-body exercise and have been shown to help induce the “relaxation response.” The relaxation response makes the heart beat slower, muscles relax, breathing become slower, and blood pressure decrease.

As far as dietary therapy, most vegetables and fruits that are rich in color can help the body deal with stress. For example, in Chinese nutrition, blueberries, purple cabbage, beets, tomatoes, and eggplant are believed to be stress reducing. A diet high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B & E is recommended, as these nutrients are easily depleted by stress.

Fruits and vegetables such as apricots, asparagus, avocados, bananas, and broccoli, brown rice, dried fruit, figs, salmon, green leafy vegetables, and most rich colored fruits are high in vitamin B. Even if you eat a healthy diet, vitamin B complex is a good supplement to consider if you suffer for chronic stress.

 

Sources:

Topics: Dr. Yongxin Fan, stress relief, stress management

AOMA Hosts Thanksgiving Food Drive to Help Families in Need

Posted on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

grocery_bag_food_drive

The members of AOMA's campus community are giving back to individuals and families in need this Thanksgiving by hosting a food drive with all donations benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas

The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas is an important part of Austin, providing food assistance to 329,400 unique clients annually. AOMA's community can make even just a small difference by providing extra food items during the busy Thanksgiving holiday.  

When to Donate:

Monday, November 17 -  Friday, November 21, 2014
 **All donations must be dropped off by 3pm on the 21st**

Where to Donate:

Donations are being collected in two convenient locations: 

AOMA Campus- Building C
4701 West Gate Blvd.
Austin, TX 78745

AOMA North Clinic - Reception Area
2700 W. Anderson Lane, Ste. 512
Austin, TX 78757

What to Donate:

The items most in need are:

  • Healthy, non-perishable foods
  • Canned vegetables (pop-tops cans preferred)
  • Canned meats like tuna, stew, and chili (pop-tops cans preferred)
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Beans (canned or dry)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Healthy Cereals
  • Rice & other dry grains

 When selecting items to donate please choose:

  • Items with intact, un-opened, consumer or commercial packaging
  • Food within expiration date printed on package
  • Items with non-breakable packaging (NO GLASS, PLEASE)

Who to Contact with Questions: 

North Clinic drop-site: Stephanee Owenby, Clinic Business Coordinator / sowenby@aoma.edu

AOMA Campus drop-site: Justine Meccio, Director of Admissions / jmeccio@aoma.edu

 

 

AOMA Announces New Tuition: Starting in Winter '15 Ensures Lower Cost

Posted on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 12:00 PM

Throughout its history, AOMA has been committed to providing the best quality education at the most reasonable cost to students. These values must be balanced with quality and care for AOMA's community. In the coming 2015 year, AOMA will increase tuition in order to continue to invest in the quality of its academic offerings, faculty, and campus community.

 

classroom
About the Increase:

AOMA’s graduate program tuition has consistently fallen well below the national average for the top-ranked schools of acupuncture & Oriental medicine. The decision to increase tuition and fees was reached after careful consideration of the institution's values and to ensure the continued well-being of AOMA's community. AOMA has worked with the Tuition Task Force to hear the concerns and needs of students, as well as with senior administrative leaders, and the board of governors to ensure AOMA is able to meet needs of future students.

In a comparison of tuition at the best acupuncture & Oriental medicine colleges, the cost of AOMA’s program is commensurate with the national average.

What This Means for Students:

Master’s Program:

The majority of the increase will take effect for students starting the program in the summer 2015 term or later. By beginning their studies in either the winter 2015 term, new students can ensure a lower program cost.

New Students - Winter 2015 & Spring 2015: For new students beginning the graduate program in the Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 terms, tuition will increase by 3% from its current rate.  This increase represents an anticipated total program cost of $55,158.

New Students – Enrolling in Summer 2015 and after: For new students beginning the graduate program in Summer 2015 or later, the anticipated cost of tuition & fees for the entire program will increase to approximately $72,500 from its current rate.

Students interested in beginning their studies in Winter 2015, should apply by December 1st. Contact the Admissions Office at admissions@aoma.edu or (800) 824-9987, ext 213 for additional information about the application process and requirements.


Additional Resources:

To help new and current students understand the tuition changes for 2015, AOMA has created a web page that contains estimated cost breakdowns, frequently asked questions about tuition, and financial literacy education.

 

 

 

Topics: masters program, admissions, tuition, winter 2015

Chinese Medicine for Addiction and Recovery

Posted on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 09:58 AM

claudia voyles, acu detox trainingClaudia Voyles, LAc, is the founder and director of Remedy Center for Healing Arts, an acupuncture and psychotherapy practice in south Austin. In her private practice, Claudia typically will treat about 10 patients per week who are recovering persons, as well as others with mental health diagnoses. “The goal of acupuncture is always to restore balance, flow, and maximum functioning.”

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a unique way of assessing physiology and psychology. One fascinating pattern in the assessment of addiction is called "empty fire," the flaring up symptoms, including emotions and behavior due to the loss of a calm center. Treatment then is designed to nourish the Yin aspect, restore balance, and support the recovery process by making the person stronger from the inside. Treatment is appropriate as support throughout the continuum of care, from pre-treatment or harm reduction through aftercare and recovery maintenance (relapse prevention). “‘Addiction’ is not a Chinese medical diagnosis. Sometimes we are supporting the withdrawal process, minimizing the symptoms and cravings. Sometimes we are working on the underlying complaints which can be triggers: stress, anxiety, depression, and/or history of trauma and abuse. People in recovery are eager to manage symptoms of chronic illness without medication whenever possible and often have chronic pain or other imbalances that will undermine their recovery and/or quality of life if not addressed."

The NADA protocol – Acudetox

acupuncture for addictions and recovery

The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) promotes the integration of acudetox, a simple ear acupuncture protocol with appropriate modalities of care. NADA is a not-for-profit training and advocacy organization that encourages community wellness through the use of a standardized auricular acupuncture protocol for behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster and emotional trauma.

Texas allows a limited set of treatment professionals to cross-train in the NADA protocol. This includes acupuncturists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, registered and vocational nurses, chemical dependency counselors, medical doctors, and osteopathic doctors. “Acudetox is not a stand-alone treatment, and in my opinion is best provided by a clinician on a treatment team, not by an independent acupuncturist,” said Claudia.

AOMA Provides Acupuncture at Austin Recovery

nada protocol

Claudia is also a clinical preceptor at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas. She supervises interns at a specialty clinic in behavioral health at Austin Recovery. Claudia is a NADA-Registered Trainer and co-chair or training for the organization. She also conducts continuing education programs at the acupuncture college and in the community.

In early 2014, AOMA interns began providing auricular acupuncture treatments (NADA protocol) at Austin Recovery’s Hicks Family Ranch, a 40-acre, in-patient addiction treatment facility in Buda, Texas. Austin Recovery serves between 800 and 1,000 clients each year, providing individual and group counseling, education about addiction processes, 12-step programs, life skills classes, musical journey experiences, and now acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

AOMA incorporates the NADA training into the Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program. At Austin Recovery, acupuncture students provide acudetox with the treatment staff for 10-25 clients, and then a full-body acupuncture clinic for eight. “We treat withdrawal--usually post-acute with that population--as well as chronic/acute pain, anxiety, stress, insomnia, digestive issues, libido/sexual function issues, etc.,” said Claudia. After a recent acupuncture treatment an Austin Recovery, a patient shared, "I have never breathed so deep before. I didn't realize I wasn't fully breathing." Restoring simple quality of life to recovering persons can be truly transformative.

Natalie Villarreal, a senior acupuncture intern at AOMA, feels very lucky to be able to learn and treat patients at ‘the Ranch’.  “Austin Recovery provides a unique integrative clinic opportunity.  The integrative team encourages a supportive environment, with acupuncturists and social workers working side by side. I love that we can get a better perspective on the experience of our patients through attending classes and meetings that they are going to. This advanced clinic epitomizes the true meaning of integrative medicine.”

Topics: addiction, recovery, NADA, Claudia Voyles

AOMA Alumni Veteran Spotlight: Sean Hanna

Posted 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.

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

AOMA Student Veteran Spotlight: Tasha Gumpert

Posted 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. 

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

What Acupuncturists Should Know about Ebola

Posted on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 @ 02:45 PM

facts about ebola

Many questions have emerged pertaining to how acupuncturists should deal with the threat of Ebola. Your state association wants you to be aware of late breaking news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the message set forth by one of its epidemiologists with special CDC Ebola training. This epidemiologist states that the CDC has only published official guidelines for acute care facilities. However, more recently, the CDC addressed outpatient facilities that include acupuncture practices. We wanted to provide you with the following information and key resources to assist you to educate your patients, your staff, and your professional and student practitioners.

Among the most important points made are the following:

  • Ancillary services, such as acupuncture clinics, should have a plan of action.
  • Before treating clients, ask if they have been in areas affected by Ebola during the past 21 days.
  • Ask if they have been in contact with anyone else who has been in areas affected by Ebola in the past 21 days and has been sick or experiencing any fever.
  • If the answer is yes, ask the patient to step into a private area, after which a trained medical professional should complete further screening (call either a Health Department official or other contracted service).
  • Patients are not contagious until they have a fever and do not feel well
  • Even at the first signs of fever they are not contagious in general.
  • If you screen patients and rule out any with risks of Ebola, clinical staff should be able to practice safely.

Given this vital information, it would be wise for acupuncturists to develop a plan as soon as possible.  Access a checklist that you could use for patients with suspected Ebola Virus Disease in the United States.

Be aware of the instructive posters pertaining to Ebola developed by the CDC that can be hung in your clinic. Click on this link to access.

We recommend checking the CDC homepage for late-breaking information.

Topics: infectious disease, Ebola