AOMA Blog

Qigong: The Art of Staying Sane during Acupuncture School

Posted by Christina Korpik on Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 04:18 PM

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When I first started acupuncture school at AOMA, qigong was just another required class on the academic docket. It was a mysterious movement therapy and meditative spiritual practice that I had heard about but had never tried myself and wasn’t particularly excited to learn, to be honest. Sure -- I was open-minded and amped up about anything that was a part of my beloved, brand spanking new venture into a healing arts education. I can’t, however, say that I came to AOMA knowing enough about qigong to be thrilled about beginning a regular practice of it. Sure, it was reputed to be incredibly stress-relieving and relaxing...but it was also more credits to be earned in an excruciatingly long four year long program. Little did I then realize how crucial qigong would eventually become to support- my well-being in grad school, and more notably, my sanity.

As aspiring professionals in the field of the healing arts, we as students sometimes forget how the medicine we are engaging with requires us to become caretakers, to consistently be placing our time, energy and resources into helping others feel stronger, healthier, better, more joyful and balanced. This makes it extra important for us to be on top of our own self-care and ensure we are, ourselves, exceptionally healthy, strong, balanced and joyful. Because if we don’t embody these qualities, how can we model them to others?

Unfortunately, massively busy schedules and expected graduate school stressors, including hours and hours of memorizing foreign material such as tedious locations of tiny, specific acupuncture points and long lists of unpronounceable herb names certainly are not conducive to keeping us calm, stress-free and balanced. In fact, I can say in full disclosure that I have seen many a student panic under pressure and nearly run in the opposite direction from the stressors of this graduate program (myself included, ahem).

However, all breakdowns aside, the end rewards of completing the program are without a doubt, worth every ounce of personal challenge. Despite the multi-dimensional benefits of the profound personal growth that seems to be a necessary side-dish of enrollment at AOMA, it’s true that we as students need to continually be seeking outlets that ground us, help us nourish ourselves, release stress and calm our minds enough that we can continually revisit the magic of studying this medicine thoroughly despite the chaotic challenges that may surface along the journey.

One of these outlets that I accidentally stumbled upon was qigong -- and to this day it has become one of my primary anchors through this program. Initially I experienced resistance to it, I’ll admit...mostly because at the beginning of the program, I was so exhausted from the intense mental workouts that left me feeling like I would rather skip this “mandatory” class and just sleep more. The self-sabotaging aspects of laziness and burnout crept up on me more than once, but then something happened one day in my qigong class: I relaxed into what I was doing, pushed past the resistance and allowed for moving of the energy in my body in ways which felt incredibly healing and not the least bit tiring. I left the class feeling massively energized and WAY loosened up. Liver qi stagnation, be gone! I had renewed vigor and excitement for being in my academic classes and learning (aka, memorizing away until my brain exploded), my body felt stronger and healthier, and I felt noticeably more FULL: full of vibrant life force energy and more capable of caring for my clients from that place instead of from the droopy place of total burnout.

So that’s what truly sold me -- it wasn’t the proclaimed or advertised benefits of the practice, it was the undeniable personal experience with this ancient art that led to me being able to maximize and master my own energy in a myriad of ways, subsequently allowing me to be a better, more grounded, embodied (and mentally stable!) practitioner for my patients (and, simply put, a better person in general). Qigong helps me calm my nerves and emotions, it helps break apart any stagnation that accumulates from hours of sitting in cold classrooms, it allows me to tap into the qi from nature and the Universe in powerful ways which feed me and refill the places that get drained consistently from being a student and a busy, active woman with many a ball to juggle. It helps me come back into and connect to MYSELF: and this is a crucial task for anyone that is holding space for others on a daily basis, or learning to step into that role in their lives.

Not convinced or feeling the magic yet? Maybe you just need to find the right qigong form that is a good match for YOUR body and your needs, and there are so many of them that you won’t find a shortage of options to choose from. We learn a limited selection here at AOMA, but I have gone on to find some incredibly potent forms outside of what we are taught in the dojo that have become absolute necessities in my daily self-care regimens. And sure -- there are still some days where I am too tired to do much of anything, and that’s okay too. However, when I push past the hesitation and the excuses my mind feeds me and spend even 10 to 15 minutes in moving meditation, I absolutely never regret doing so.

One helpful resource to check out is the Qigong Institute:

Here is the list of AOMA’s qigong community classes in Austin,TX, for students interested in juicing up their practices outside of class requirements: https://aoma.edu/continuing-education/community-classes/qigong-classes/

To learn more about our Master's program here at AOMA, download the overview below:

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

Topics: qigong, acupuncture students

What is Integrative Healthcare?

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, May 08, 2015 @ 03:53 PM

integrativehealthcare

Some people think of acupuncture and Oriental medicine as alternative healthcare, shying away from Western medicine. While it is true that in the modern world of Traditional Chinese Medicine a holistic approach to care is at the heart of our practice, we like to think of our approach at AOMA as integrative healthcare. When we feel the radial pulse we are differentiating between choppy, slippery and dai mai, to name a few, but we are also looking for red flags like tachycardia and hypertension so we also take blood pressure.

Integrative healthcare as defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, "combines mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness." So we get the best of both worlds while providing the best possible care for our patients. We take into account the whole person's mind, body and spirit.

Providing care that's within our scope and utilizing the other medical fields as would best serve the patient needs: pretty straightforward. In using an integrative approach, we are not limited by one therapy because we access both alternative approaches as well as conventional ones. A good example is using acupuncture to help with post surgical pain and inflammation. Acupuncture alone wouldn't be sufficient treatment for a structural issue, like a broken bone or severely torn muscle. But after the x-rays have been taken, the bone set back into place, the use of acupuncture can be instrumental not only to reduce physical pain but also the care for the emotional component of the injury.

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco describes that "integrative medicine seeks to incorporate treatment options from conventional and alternative approaches, taking into account not only physical symptoms, but also psychological, social and spiritual aspects of health and illness."

As acupuncturists, we might ask why it matters to be integrative. Well, it may mean jobs for one. According to the American Hospital Association, the percentage of U.S. hospitals that offer complementary therapies has increased dramatically in less than a decade, from 8.6% in 1998 to almost 42% in 2011. That's good news for practitioners but it's great news for patients.

Part of being a good integrative healthcare practitioner is understanding the health landscape for that patient and being able to speak intelligently about it with other practitioners that may have a background different than our own. Qi, yin and yang are incredibly important to us but if we're working on a case and the patient primary wants to understand what you are treating and herbs you intend to prescribe, we need to be able to have that conversation. Not to say you can't use terms like zang fu and xue xu, just back it up.

AOMA is hosting our own integrative healthcare symposium with the Southwest Symposium, May 7-11, in Austin, TX. One of the best ways to understand TCM and how to speak about it with patients and other healthcare providers is to get many different points of view. Be sure to check out this year’s line-up! aoma.edu/sws

Careers in Acupuncture: Download free eBook!

 

 

Topics: integrative medicine

Acupuncture Student's First Clinical Experience

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Fri, May 08, 2015 @ 03:26 PM

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When I first came to AOMA in Austin to attend acupuncture school, I was thrilled. Yet, I have always been anxious about this day - I am about to go into my first clinic as a treating acupuncture intern. I am writing this only a few hours before I go into clinic. I am nervous, excited, and slightly nauseous. I've finally arrived at the day that I will meet a complete stranger and put acupuncture needles in them! This is what all oriental medicine students have been waiting for!

My only hope is that I can help someone. It is all a little nerve-wracking to have patients' care in my hands for the first time. Everyone in my cohort has been praying this week to only get patients with local qi and blood stagnation because it is supposed to be the easiest to treat. Please, please don't let me get a chief complaint of cataracts or really anything to do with someone's eyes. I don't know if I am ready treat such a sensitive area, although, I guess when the time comes I will have to be ready. It’s a good thing there are supervisors and residents there to assist me.

For those of you who are observing in clinic right now you might notice that some of your interns are doing their best but are very anxious. And you know what? That is perfectly alright. It is okay if you have to double check your school materials. I am going to have to do that plenty myself. Chinese medicine is complicated after all. Let's not forget that acupuncture is an art form; there is no one right way. If you don't happen to remember where a point is located or what energetics it has, don't fret too much. As acupuncture students, we are supposed to be learning right now. Mistakes will happen, but don't think it's the end of the world. The great part is, even if you don't do everything right, you are still making a huge difference in the lives of your patients. At least that's what I am telling myself right now. Wish me luck!

Learn more about Acupuncture  & Herbal Medicine

Topics: acupuncture school, acupuncture students

Pamela Ferguson on Compassionate Palliative Care

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 @ 12:23 PM

 

Why do so many of our colleagues shy away from palliative care? A few years ago, when I stood up at our Southwest Symposium to give a thumbnail sketch prior to my afternoon workshop in palliative care, two thirds of the delegates rose and left the conference hall. I kid you not. “Wow,” I said, “This can’t be because I’m wearing the wrong deodorant, surely!”

The dozen or so who attended my workshop later were all accomplished Licensed Acupuncturists who were also Asian Bodywork Therapists or Massage Therapists. Therein lies the key. Those of us with bodywork skills aren’t afraid to work with clients who are terminally ill. In fact, it’s a gift – an honor. Especially if you have the chance to work on a long-term client through their final few months or weeks. The experience can be profound, which is why it’s great that AOMA offers offsite clinics in hospice care!

On a practical level, pain control is crucial. This can often mean stepping outside standard protocols and working patiently with the client to see which combination of acupoints eases both physical and emotional pain. It’s helpful to focus on the client’s hands and feet, especially in a hospital or hospice setting. Having a skilled, compassionate, and mindful touch with a minimum of points is essential. It may not always be wise or possible to use needles. I often teach family members of clients some simple acupressure work for those long hours when they sit beside a terminally ill loved one, feeling helpless or staring at some noisy game on TV. Sometimes a practitioner provides a calming center or focus in the room (at home or in hospital) when family members of the client fall apart – or – start heated arguments. I’ve seen all shades of behavior. Qi work is paramount. Not only to keep the practitioner centered and focused, but to maintain a calming atmosphere around the client. It’s equally important to remind family members that the sense of hearing is the last to go, and to never assume that a loved one can’t hear even while appearing unresponsive or in a coma.

 

For more info – see Pam’s column “Compassionate ABT for Palliative Care” in Acupuncture Today of February 2014 (15,2).

Pam will teach a Palliative Care workshop on April 18, 2015 at AOMA for PDA points and LMT CEUs. Find out more at https://aoma.edu/calendar/event/2673/, and register at http://store.aoma.edu/product/cc-palliative-15.html.

pam_matte_300_350Pam Ferguson Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA® – CI, LMT (TX) teaches advanced classes in Asian Bodywork Therapy, mainly in Europe. She is AOMA’s Asian Bodywork Therapy Dean Emerita.

Topics: asian bodywork therapy, palliative care

5 Books to Read Before Starting Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine School

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

readingbooks

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.

  

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 Free eBook: Intro to Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine   

 About Kate Wetzel:

kate_wetzel_imageKate 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.

 

 

 

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

4 Myths about Austin, Texas

Posted by Justine Meccio on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

MYTH 1: Austin is always hot.texas snowmen_image courtesy of lauraagudelo272.wordpress.com

TRUTH: Austin is hot during the summer. I moved to Austin,TX from Massachusetts in July of 2011, which was later named the hottest, driest month in Texas’ recorded history, and it was brutally hot. The grass was bleached pale yellow and wildfires popped up around the city, in spite of the strict burn-ban, which extended so far as to prohibit Independence Day fireworks. After a few months I learned that such high temperatures are an anomaly for Austin, which generally boasts somewhat mild weather for much of the fall, winter, and spring. Unfortunately, I’d already joyously donated all my cold-weather wear before heading south, so sometime in November I had to reevaluate my wardrobe and purchase much of the gear I’d gotten rid of.

Since living in Austin, I’ve spent Thanksgiving in a wool pea coat and Thanksgiving in a tee shirt…the weather here can be unpredictable, except in its predicable variety.

MYTH 2: If you don’t like tacos or BBQ, you might go hungry.

daidue_image courtesy of daidue.com

TRUTH: While is true that Austin loves its BBQ (there are more than 200 joints in the Austin area) and may love tacos even more (you can buy tacos from  AT LEAST 400 restaurants and food trucks around town), the culinary scene is by no means limited to those two major food groups.Austin is home to hundreds of food trucks, which serve foods ranging from donut-burgers and deep-fried sandwiches to Mexi-Korean and Thai Kun. There are vegetarian &vegan restaurants, gluten -free bakeries,  locally sourced dinner-club inspired restaurants, gourmet hot dog restaurants,Thai restaurants, Southern Comfort Restaurants… I could go on and on. I’m not a food writer, but there are many enthusiastic bloggers in Austin. If you’d like to read more about the food and restaurant scene in Austin, here are a few that I recommend: 

•    http://austinfoodbloggers.org/city-guide-2/
•    http://thetastingbuds.com/
•    http://www.southaustinfoodie.com/
•    http://austin.eater.com/

MYTH 3: Austin doesn’t have public transportation.bcycle_image courtesy of austin.bcycle.com

TRUTH: Austin does have public transportation:

The bus system extends into most of the city, serving 50 routes and 3000 bus stops, and is continuously growing and improving its service.  For more info check out : https://www.capmetro.org/

Additionally, Austin has followed places like DC, Amsterdam, and NYC in implementing a bike-sharing program - ours is Bcycle, and it’s extremely affordable. For more info check out : https://austin.bcycle.com/

Here’s the caveat, and it’s a big one:  people who don’t have cars and instead use public transit often need to plan their daily commute in advance, and may find it easier to live closer to downtown. If you have personal experience with using Austin’s public transportation as your method of getting around, we welcome your comments and opinions!

As important as the presence of public transportation in Austin is its demand due to the growing population. As Austin continues to grow, the city is continuing to improve its public transportation offerings and make improvements to existing systems. I am optimistic that our city planners and local businesses will make this happen.

MYTH 4: Austin is full of weirdoskeep_austin_weird_image courtesy of chucklesnetwork.com

TRUTH: Austin is unique, and so are its inhabitants. You may have heard the city’s popular slogan “Keep Austin Weird”, and wondered what the heck people mean when they say this. In his book “Weird City” Joshua Long explored this very question, and shows that people mean many different things when they use this phrase. Sometimes people are referring to the music, or local icons like Willie Nelson and Leslie, and other times people are referring to the city’s politics or aesthetics. When I hear people talk about Austin’s “weirdness”, it usually has an intangible, nostalgic quality to it. Legend has it that the slogan began as a bumper sticker imagined up by a guy named Red, who (according to Joshua Long) “didn’t want to make money. He didn’t want to be famous. He was just worried that the city he loved was becoming over-commercialized, over-materialistic, and less 'weird'.” Since then, “Keep Austin Weird” has been adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote local business and economic revitalization that preserves the flavor of the city, while allowing it to evolve. Long claims that “there is a kind of a self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling prophecy of nonconformity now in the city” related to this sentiment. What this non-conformity looks like varies a lot depending on who you ask, but it’s my experience that many people in Austin are here because there’s a  sense of inclusivity that accompanies the city’s embrace of “weirdness “. Maybe that does make us weirdos, but I like to think of us as movers and shakers and artists and non-conformists, who are trying to build a city-wide umbrella of inclusivity.

Download a guide to Austin

 

elizabeth_arris_-_round-1Elizabeth Arris is an advanced student within the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program. Prior to relocating to Austin to attend AOMA, she earned a BA in Biological Sciences at Smith College. When not in class, Elizabeth serves as Student Ambassador, administering the InterTransform Mentoring Program for new students.

Topics: Austin, moving to Austin

New Book by AOMA Staff, Julia Aziz, LCSW

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 @ 09:55 AM

Author_PhotoWe’d like to introduce you to the new book Lessons of Labor: One Woman’s Self-Discovery Through Birth & Motherhood by Julia Aziz, LCSW, Director of Student and Career Services at AOMA. Julia has worked at AOMA since 2012, supporting students through and after their time in school. Before AOMA, she worked as a counselor and hospice chaplain, and she has continued to lead private workshops and classes on rediscovering purpose and the self. Her new book is about the emotional and spiritual challenges of birthing and parenting, looking at the transition into motherhood as an opportunity for personal growth. You are all invited to her book release party at BookPeople on Thursday, February 26 at 7pm!

Lessons_of_Labor_Front_Cover-1About the book:

What if instead of trying to avoid the pain and uncertainty of labor, we asked what we could learn from it? In telling the intimate birth stories of her three children and miscarriage, Julia shows us how giving birth can be one of motherhood's (and life's) greatest teachers. Rather than giving advice on how to labor or how to parent, this book consistently offers the message that a woman can grow through the challenges that life presents her and learn to trust herself. For women who share a tendency for "getting it right," this honest and unguarded memoir is a reminder that the pretense of control is no match for the freedom of letting go.

Lessons of Labor is available now at BookPeople, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Congratulations, Julia! AOMA is very proud of  you.

BP

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

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

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

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

Artemisgroupshow_adj

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: veteran affairs, AOMA community collaborations

AOMA Herbal Medicine Products: Staff Top Picks

Posted by Christina Korpik on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 10:00 AM

 

There is a vast array of little-known, hidden treasures in the AOMA Herbal Medicine (AHM) Store that many AOMA students, staff and patients are not aware of. To highlight the magic that abounds within this little shop of healing, we asked AHM staff to choose their favorite products and explain why they love each particular product so much. Of the many goodies available, we compiled a list of the best of the best, so the AOMA community can reap the benefits.

 

 

 

IMG_3516Sennenkyu Taiyo Self-Heating Moxa


Staff name:
Jane Riti


AHM Employee since: 2012

 

What is it used for? Moxa on acupuncture points

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? This is great for use in clinics without worrying about strong aromas bothering your neighbors. It is also easy to use at home.


photoLoquat & Fritillary Jelly

 

Staff name: Dan Knight

 

AHM Employee since: 2011

 

What is it used for? Cough Syrup

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for?  This is a great OTC product to have in your medicine cabinet. It can be used for acute and chronic cough with or without phlegm as well as helping with a sore throat. The jelly can be taken directly to help coat the throat or dissolved in water to make a soothing tea. Safe for both children and adults.


IMG_3510-1

Ching Wan Hung

Staff name:  Alishia Baxter              

     

AHM Employee since:  2012

What is it used for?  Minor burns and sunburn

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? This product can be used to heal minor scrapes and bruises as well.  I have recommended it to someone that cut off the tip of their finger cooking and the injury healed in record time.  Most importantly it is also an analgesic and helped with the pain.  I also have personally monitored its use on a necrosing spider bite, along with internal raw herbs, whereby the injury healed within a couple of weeks instead of the month or two this type of injury usually requires.


IMG_3524-9Blue Poppy Spirit Quieting Massage Oil

Staff name: Jeannie Evans  

 

AHM Employee since: 1995

 

What is it used for? Massage, Tuina, Cupping, Bath Oil, Moisturizing

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? This oil is a thoughtful blend of apricot oil, canola oil, olive oil plus Chinese herbs traditionally used to calm and quiet the spirits: He Huan Hua, Bai He, Shi Chang Pu, Chen Xiang, Yuan Zhi, and sweet orange essential oil. It’s especially wonderful for cupping when all that’s needed is a light, relaxing oil.  The aroma is subtle and unobtrusive and works very well when used for calming the shen.


 

IMG_3520-2Himalayan salt lamps

 

Staff name: Mary Zaloga

 

AHM Employee since: 2007 

 

What is it used for? The lamps are made from salt crystal rocks formed hundreds of million years ago in the Himalayas.  The warm glow beautifies any room in the house or office while the crystal produces negative ions.  Because dust and dirt are positively charged, they are attracted to the negatively charged lamp and the ions it emits.  The lamps are also used to neutralize the positive ions emitted by electronics.

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for?  The lamps provide a beautiful soft glow, while helping to reduce pollution in the indoor environment.  They are a great gift idea.

IMG_3522White Sage

Staff name: Chris Zaloga

AHM Employee since: 2008

 

What it is used for? For centuries, white sage has been considered a sacred, cleansing, purifying, and protective plant.  Traditionally, it is burned and the smoke helps to clear any negative or heavy energy from a space.

 

Why do you recommend it and/or who do you recommend it for? Cleansing with white sage is helpful anytime the energy in a space becomes heavy, but it is also used when moving to a new home to remove old energies and "start fresh."

Download a Free  Intro to Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine eBook.

Topics: AOMA Herbal Medicine, herbal medicine

Nurses Expand Scope of Practice, Study Acupuncture

Posted by Christina Korpik on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

AOMA is well-known in its field for attracting a highly diverse student body consisting of gifted practitioners with a wide variety of backgrounds under their belts. Many students come into their studies having already obtained a background in a particular healing modality or healthcare field.

Many students at AOMA studied Western medicine in nursing school and obtained a strong background in nursing before they decided to advance their careers with Chinese medicine studies. We interviewed them to share their knowledge and stories around returning to school after receiving a nursing education, as well as their thoughts around combining the two very complementary modalities.

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Nurse/Acupuncturist in Training: Natalie Ledbetter 

What prompted you to return to school?

I have been very interested in alternative medicine for years and have been wanting to gain education and training in other modalities of healing. My children are older now, and I thought it was a good time to go back to school now that they are more self-sufficient.

Why did you choose AOMA?

AOMA is a highly ranked and highly respected school for TCM. They are accredited, and I was impressed with the herbal program as well as the other classes offered.

What is your nursing background?

I taught nursing school at Galveston College, worked in ICU, obtained a master’s degree in administration, and then a master’s in nursing anesthesia. I currently work as a certified registered nurse anesthetist at the office of a local plastic surgeon, providing anesthesia for her patients undergoing surgery.

How has your background in nursing impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

In some ways I think it has made things a little more challenging, but it has made it easier in other ways. I had a difficult time at first with the concept of "organs" in TCM and how different it is from Western medicine. I often thought I was memorizing "facts" that were not really facts at all, but odd theories. I decided to suspend judgment and just learn all that the instructors had to offer and sort it all out in the end. This has been working well for me so far.

The fact that I am familiar with anatomy, physiology, physical assessment, and other biomedical subjects has allowed me to skip the biomedical courses, which gives me time to continue working. This is a huge plus, because I refuse to take out loans to pay for school.

What has your experience been like as a student of Chinese medicine?

I love most of the instructors and others who work at AOMA. I am learning so much. It can be hard to balance school, work, and family, but I believe it will be worth it. If AOMA would offer some of the courses online, it would make things so much easier to juggle. 

What advice do you have for other nurses returning to school?

Be ready to learn things that are very different from what you have been taught in the past. Be ready to be challenged in the area of time management if you are going to work while in school. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect as you juggle job, studies, home, family, etc. 

 

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Nurse/Acupuncturist in Training: Jason Spees

What prompted you to return to school?

I returned to school to shift my life practice of helping others into a more holistic direction. 

Why did you choose AOMA?

There were many factors, some of them more logistical, like family, a great job market, and that AOMA is in a counter-culture-strong city. The main thing that drew me to Austin was how strong AOMA is into integrative medicine, how they are research-driven, with several experienced teachers, and aligned with other healthcare disciplines. I believe every facet in healthcare needs to engage with the others in a harmonious and collaborative way to bring about the best results for the patient.

What is your nursing background?

Emergency medicine, chronic pain/rehab, and hospice/palliative care. 

How has your background in nursing impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

It helped to already have strong assessment skills and be informed on pathology and pharmacology. That is something that people who are just entering patient care struggle with in the beginning. It has been a challenge to start seeing medicine from the Chinese theory angle, but now I am a lot more empowered, being able to view disease in two or three different ways according to theory. It is like looking at different surfaces of a gem. I find that people are also uncomfortable speaking with acupuncturists if they don't have Western medical experience. For me, that is something to worry less about.

What has your experience been like as a student of Chinese medicine?

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 nurses returning to school? 

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

 

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Nurse & Licensed Acupuncturist: Katie Burke

What prompted you to return to school?

I have always enjoyed helping others and have been particularly drawn to assisting in the healing process and gaining optimal health. While nursing has been a wonderfully rewarding career in many ways, working within the confines of the hospital setting and having only medical interventions and pharmaceuticals as my ways of treatment were not completely fulfilling for me. I knew there was a more natural way to heal (and prevent illness). The feeling that something was missing prompted my path to delving into natural medicine.

Why did you choose AOMA?

Since I was already living in Austin and wanting to continue my work part-time as a nurse while going to school, I knew I wanted to choose a school in Austin, if possible. After doing some research I was delighted to find out that there were two acupuncture schools here. I have an acquaintance who was going to an acupuncture school, so once I had set my sights on a career change I talked with her about her experience. She told me she was going to AOMA, and she had nothing but positive things to say about the school. After that, I set up a tour of the campus with the director of admissions. After learning more about the program, I knew that AOMA was where I needed to be. I immediately felt like I was in the right place. Call it a hunch. And of course the school's outstanding reputation in the field didn't hurt, either.

What is your nursing background?

I graduated with my bachelor's in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2006. I started out working full time in Labor and Delivery prior to going back to school at AOMA. Once I started classes, I continued to work, but on a part-time level. Today I am still working at the hospital (but less frequently), in addition to my work as an acupuncturist.

How has your background in nursing impacted your experience as a student/practitioner of Chinese medicine?

Having a nursing background had been extremely helpful when going through the program. You start off with a base knowledge of anatomy and physiology, disease processes/medical conditions, and pharmaceuticals before you even begin classes. Some of my bio-med classes also transferred, and I was able to get credit for them, which helped in lightening the course load and the financial burden of grad school. Aside from that, nursing helps you develop your interpersonal and diagnostic skills and gives you a leg up once you start treating patients in the student clinic. Now that I'm practicing, my clients are always interested in my work as a nurse and how I integrate both medical models. Being a nurse makes you a ‘familiar’ person in the eyes of people who are new to Chinese medicine. I have personally witnessed it reduce anxiety and increase receptiveness in clients once they realize that I also have a Western medicine background.

What has your experience been like as a student and alumna?

As a student I was probably a bit frazzled while going through the program (as were many of my classmates, I'm sure). Working part time while taking a full load of classes was hard, but I'm glad I continued my work in nursing while going back to school. The program at AOMA is rigorous but rewarding. As an alumna I have been fortunate in many ways. Continuing my work in the hospital allowed me to have a "career cushion" during the transition phase after graduation. I was able to have an income while determining what my next step would be (which was truly a blessing). I am now happily practicing acupuncture at a clinic in Austin that specializes in fertility. I’m working with a wonderful team of skilled practitioners. I am also continuing my work in Labor and Delivery a few days a week.

What advice do you have for other nurses returning to school?

If natural medicine is something that interests you, then AOMA is a great place to find what you've been missing. Western medicine and Chinese medicine go hand in hand. It's wonderful being able to practice and have a solid knowledge base in both fields.

Get a Guide to Careers in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Topics: herbal medicine, acupuncture school, chinese medicine school, nurses

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