AOMA Blog

Meet Nicole: Peace Corp Volunteer turned Acupuncture Student

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

AOMA Student Spotlight Nicole

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

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

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

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

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

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

What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why?

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

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

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

What are you plans after graduation?

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

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

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

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

Master's Program Fact Sheet

 

 

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

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

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

Acupuncture Student Spotlight Jenna Valentine

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

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

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you plans after graduation?

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

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

Master's Program Fact Sheet

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

Anne Cusick: AOMA Alum Turned Faculty

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 @ 04:26 PM

Anne Cusick AOMA Acupuncture Faculty

Anne Cusick is one of AOMA's Master's program professors, teaching Acupuncture Techniques 2In addition to maintaining her private clinical practice, she is active in the local integrative medicine community, where she works collaboratively with a family medicine doctor to deliver comprehensive patient care. Since graduating from AOMA, she specializes in pain management, stress relief, digestive health, and the treatment sleep disorders in her practice. In addition to her studies at the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, she has also completed extensive training in Shen-Hammer Pulse Diagnosis and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. Anne is also one of the most beloved clinic supervisors by her students!

We caught up with Anne to find out more about getting into Chinese medicine, and the transition from study, to practice, to teaching!

When did you graduate?  April 2008.

When did you start working at AOMA? January 2014.

What’s your favorite thing about AOMA? The people.

Why did you decide to teach at AOMA?

Being a student at AOMA was one of the highlights of my path thus far.  To be a part of AOMA again was a blessing.

What’s your favorite part of teaching Chinese medicine?

The history, where the tools, philosophies and techniques emerged from and how they have transcended through the years.

What is a favorite book or favorite quote of yours, and why?  

One of my favorites is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It has great insights on balance.

What advice would you give to new acupuncturists?  

Plant roots. Choose a community you would love to work in, and help nurture it.   

What’s your favorite thing about living in Austin?

The micro and macro communities. It is possible to find something you love in Austin and easy to find people whom share the same interests. 

Want to learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA? Schedule a campus tour and sit in on a class with us!

Schedule a Campus Tour

 

 

Topics: faculty spotlight, alumni, alumni spotlight

8 Community-Minded Local Businesses in Austin

Posted by Rob Davidson on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 @ 03:04 PM

Austin Mural-015445-edited

Austin, TX is often ranked the best city in Texas to live in for many reasons. We wrote a blog on that topic previously, but we want to focus in on all the amazing small businesses that keep a heavy focus on staying local and community-oriented.  At AOMA, our mission is to transform lives and communities, so we firmly believe in businesses that think about our community too. We are so fortunate to be located in South Austin, surrounded by so many local community minded merchants! If you’re new to Austin, or just visiting, we recommend you stop by these fine establishments that are local and community minded.

1. Juiceland

juiceland

Founded in 2011 by Matt Shook, Juiceland is a diverse juicebar offering healthy fresh pressed juices and smoothies. They also offer healthy snacks and small meals ready to go. Juiceland is iconic to Austin as a place to recharge with refreshing juice or a smoothie. Perfect place for a health conscious juice, salad or energy boost.

4526 West Gate Blvd A, Austin, TX 78745

2. Wheatsville Food Co-op

Wheasville

Wheatsville is a food co-op located off of South lamar and Ben White Blvd. They feature a large-selection of locally grown goods and organic produce, specifically from Austin’s own Johnson’s Backyard Garden. They also have a wide selection of vegan/paleo products, a hot food bar, salad bar, deli and smoothie counter. They even have nitro locally-sourced cold brew on tap. Perfect place to grab local-made eats, treats, produce and beverages.

4001 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

3. People’s Pharmacy

people's rx

People’s Pharmacy takes a natural approach to your local pharmacy. They sell a selection of paleo-friendly and vegan-friendly foods as well as natural supplements, with trained naturopaths on staff. They also serve food at an in-house deli counter which features soups, smoothies, sandwiches, breakfast tacos and more! You can also get health testing, coaching and meal plans done to help you achieve your health and wellness goals. Perfect way to fight allergies and stay healthy!
 
3801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

4. Black Swan Yoga

Black Swan Yoga Daily Texan

Black Swan Yoga has several locations in Austin and yearly named to the list of Austin’s best yoga studios. Their studios feature lobby-less heated yoga rooms and generally follow a vinyasa flow format. Best of all their classes are donation-based! Their south location is just across the street from AOMA on West Gate Blvd. Perfect way to de-stress and detox!

4534 West Gate Blvd, Austin, TX 78745

5. Crux Climbing

Crux Climbing

Crux Climbing Center was founded by two local Austin climbers who designed the facility to be more of a community space than a gym. Crux features family friendly climbing for all ages including space for strength training, yoga, and fitness classes. The indoor 22,000 square foot facility in South Austin has plenty to do so you’ll never be bored! Perfect weekend activity (that’s indoors!).

121 Pickle Rd #100, Austin, TX 78704

6. El Chilito

El Chilito

El Chilito is one of Austin’s favorite taco stands. They’re known for their “wonderful interior Mexican” food such as delicious and authentic breakfast tacos, migas, and agua frescas! Each location has a full coffee bar and outdoor patio seating! Perfect spot for a quick lunch pickup or coffee break.

4501 Manchaca Rd, Austin, TX 78745

7. Radio Coffee and Beer

Radio Coffee

Radio Coffee is located in a refurbished classic home in South Austin. You’ll find many of our AOMA students there studying on any given day! They have a large outdoor patio that’s climate controlled! They also show movies, feature live music, and generally kid and dog friendly. Radio also serves a large selection of craft beer, kombucha and coffee. You’ll also find Vera Cruz taco truck on site as well. Perfect place for a study break, or drink with friends.

4204 Manchaca Rd, Austin, TX 78704

8. AOMA Herbal Medicine

IMG_0083 copy

If you’re in town, stop by our herbal medicine dispensary and retail store for a selection of over the counter and prescription Chinese herbal formulas, gifts, snacks, drinks, meditation pillows and so much more! Each of our stores has a licensed Chinese herbalist on staff to help you with any questions pertaining to Chinese herbs. They’ll be able to answer any of your questions! We have a south and north Austin location to choose from!

AOMA Herbal Medicine:

South - 4701 West Gate Boulevard, Bldg B, Austin, TX 78745
North - 2700 W Anderson Ln #504, Austin, TX 78757

 

Want to learn more about Chinese medicine? Download our guide!

Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Nutrition

 

Topics: herbal medicine, Austin

10 Iconic Things to Do in Austin, Texas (That keep it Weird!)

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 03:02 PM

10 Iconic Things to Do in Austin, Texas

Austin is one of those places you visit and never want to leave. Which is why our students love living here so much! Our student population at AOMA comes from diverse backgrounds and locations, from places all across the country and overseas. While they’re here, when they are able to take a break from studying, they venture out and take in the beautiful city of Austin, a place with plenty to do and see!

With a focus on local business and a taste for “weird”, you’ll find many iconic spots in Austin that you won’t find anywhere else. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most unique places to visit while staying in Austin that “Keep Austin Weird.”

 

Jo's Coffee Austin TX

1. Jo’s Coffee & the "I love you so much" Wall

This local coffee shop, owned and operated by the same owners as neighboring San Jose Hotel, boasts a piece of the city’s most iconic street art. When you scroll through photos of Austin on social media, you’ll likely see couples and bff’s standing next to the “I love you so much” - street graffiti turned photo backdrop! Jo’s Coffee brings together the South Congress neighborhood for good coffee, food and often Live Music. Grab a cup of Jo’s coffee and explore the shops and sights of South Congress Avenue or downtown at their 2nd Street District location - two of South Austin’s most famous local shopping districts.

Jo's South Congress: 1300 South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78704
Jo's Downtown: 242 West 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701

Cathedral of Junk Austin TX

2. Cathedral of Junk

They say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This couldn’t be more apparent than Austin’s Cathedral of Junk, where junk is overtly displayed as art! Vince Hannemann started building his cathedral in 1988. It’s been a slow growing pile of junk that Vince has turned into his own masterpiece, constantly changing and growing over the years. Tours are allowed but by appointment only - so you better call ahead!

Location: 4424 Lareina Dr, Austin, TX 78745, 512-299-7413

Austin TX bats South Congress bridge
(Photo credit: www.batsinaustin.com)

3. South Congress Bats

One of Austin’s most popular tourist attractions is watching the bats from the South Congress bridge. These bats come out to feed just before sunset from underneath the South Congress Avenue bridge, which crosses Lady Bird Lake. Enjoy a vantage point from the bridge, the lawn of the Austin American Statesman, or even consider an evening of bat-seeing on a boat ride with the Lone Star Riverboat. Make sure to check the season before you go out there - the bats are only here over the summer months before they travel to South America.

For more information, check out: http://www.batsinaustin.com.

Location: Congress Ave Bridge, Austin, TX 78704

Zilker Park Austin TX skyline

4. Zilker Park

(Home to Festivals such as ACL, Austin Kite Festival, and Trail of Lights)

Zilker park is considered the “most-loved” park in Austin. This 350-acre park is perfect for a picnic, a place to take the dogs off leash or hang out and practice yoga with friends! Zilker park connects to the urban Lady Bird Butler Trails Hike and Bike Trail, an 11-mile trail that circles around the city. Also within Zilker you’ll find Barton Springs pool - an Austin iconic spring-fed natural pool, as well as the trailhead to the Barton Creek greenbelt which winds and stretches several miles north into the Barton hills and Westlake neighborhoods.

Also home to many iconic Austin festivals such as Austin City Limits, ABC Kite Festival, as well as the annual Trail of Lights and Zilker Christmas Tree lighting, Zilker offers relaxation and recreation with a beautiful view of our downtown skyline.

Location: 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Peter Pan Mini-Golf Austin TX
(Photo credit: www.365thingsaustin.com)

5. Peter Pan Mini Golf

When driving on Barton Springs Road, you may notice a large Peter Pan or T-Rex statue popping out above the treeline. Peter Pan mini golf is a popular spot to spend some time with friends playing a round or two of miniature golf. It’s $7 per person, and BYOB. A local favorite for an inexpensive night on the town.

Location: 1207 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Blue Cat Cafe Austin TX
(Photo credit: www.houstonpress.com)

6. Blue Cat Cafe

Do you love felines but aren’t ready for one at home? Blue Cat Cafe allows you to dine with your furry friends. What’s even better is they allow you to adopt any cats you can’t go home without. With a $5 entry fee, you can spend your day petting sweet cats and enjoying good food.

Location: 95 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702

Broken Spoke Austin TX
(Photo credit: austin.curbed.com)

7. Two Stepping at the Broken Spoke

Let’s face it - Austin may be a big city, but we’re still in Texas. And that means there’s bound to be a lot of country music going on. Austin has a thriving bluegrass, blues, country and folk scene. One of Austin’s most famous venues for Country Western music is the long-established Broken Spoke, where many famous country stars have performed, including Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Joe Ely, and Dale Watson. Get yourself some boots and enjoy two-stepping at this local honky-tonk!

Location: 3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Alamo Drafthouse Austin TX

8. Singalongs at ALAMO Drafthouse

Austin is home to the dine-in movie theatre experience. It all started with one movie theatre and a couple with a vision to change how we experience going out to see a movie. Austin is home to Alamo Drafthouse, now becoming popular nationwide. Not only can you enjoy a tasty menu and drinks while you enjoy the picture, but they also host special events including singalongs to your favorite musical films! With private viewing parties and dressing up as characters for movie nights, it’s a one of a kind experience you don’t want to miss!

Nearest location to AOMA: 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

swanboat Austin TX
(Photo credit: www.funjunkie.com)

9. Swan Pedal Boat on Lake Austin

Want to enjoy the most relaxing activity in Austin? Try out a Swan Pedal Boat on Lake Austin. You won’t have to paddle, the pedals will do all the work! Hosted by Capital Cruises, the swan boats will help you enjoy Lady Bird Lake while also looking like a regal swan floating along the water. Covered swans are also available for those hot summer days!

Find out more at: www.CapitalCruises.com.
Location: 1211, 208 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Austin TX Museum of the Weird

10. Austin Museum of the Weird

No city of self-proclaimed weirdness would be complete without a Museum of the Weird! Self-described as “America’s Strangest Attraction”, the museum features life-size wax figures, real mummies, and even shrunken heads! The Museum of the Weird might be the most literal reflection of “Keep Austin Weird”, and it’s sure to entertain.

Tip: While you’re there. explore the rest of 6th street - a dense concentration of live music, food, and drinks that help put Austin on the map as the “Live Music Capital of the World”.

Location: 412 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

We hope you enjoy our city while you’re here!

Want to see more to do in Austin? Download our Guide to Austin!

Download a Guide to Austin, Texas

While you're in town, come see us for an acupuncture visit!

Request an Appointment

 

Topics: Austin, moving to Austin

Meditation & The Five Senses: How to Enhance Your Meditation Practice

Posted by Sandra Hurtubise on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 @ 02:28 PM

Meditation Austin AOMA

Meditation is a mind-body practice that allows one to calm their mind from the fast pace and stresses of life. When we take time to slow down and focus on the present, we eliminate many of the stress responses in our bodies. Some enjoy seated, silent meditation, while others enjoy triggering each of their senses to enhance their relaxation. Soothing our five senses can help us more easily enter a meditative state. As meditation becomes more popular and more people begin to cultivate a regular practice, it becomes important to find things that make it easier to make meditation a habit. There are some helpful props and accessories that will make your meditation more practice comfortable and centered. We have compiled five items that will help aid in each sensory aspect of your meditation practice.

1. Sense of Sight in Meditation

Salt Lamps AOMA Austin

Salt lamps create a dim lighting for any room perfect for a meditation practice. Along with the relaxing lighting, salt lamps are said to create negative ions and can increase overall energy in your space. Salt lamps are made by a large chopped off chunk of Himalayan pink salt with a light bulb in the middle causing the salt to glow and warm from within. In addition to salt lamps, candles also create a meditative lighting and focal point for deepening your meditation.

2. Sense of Smell in Meditation

Essential Oil Diffuser AOMA Austin

Essential oil diffusers are commonly used in homes and offices as an alternative to chemical-based air fresheners and purifier sprays. They are also a safe and easy way to receive relaxing aromatherapy during your meditation practice. Choose from many different oils for your desired effect! Some oils can be sedating while others energizing. The benefits of aromatherapy include stress relief, mental focus, allergy relief, and more!

3. Sense of Touch in Meditation

Meditation Pillows AOMA Austin

Meditation pillows are essential for any meditation practice. Sitting for long periods of time can cause discomfort in the body, even sometimes causing body parts to feel “asleep”. Pillows can help in a seated meditation to keep posture straight and relieve pressure from their buttocks. Making a meditation practice comfortable is a great way to stick with it! Mala beads are another powerful and symbolic tool for meditation. Mala beads can be held during meditation practice as a tactile point of focus. The 108 beads on a traditional mala are said to help focus your meditation on your internal mantra, or focused thought that guides your practice. By repeating over and over again as you grip each bead in your hand going all the way around the mala, you can meditate on your mantra through mindful repetition.

Sense of Sound in Meditation

Chakra Bowls Austin TX

There are many forms of sound therapy and meditation audio technology that assists you in going deeper in your meditation practice. Bowls can also be used to create soothing tones that help to focus the mind. Many meditators also enjoy guided meditation audio, or simply the sounds of nature. Whatever audio source you decide on for your meditation practice, pick something that will not be distracting and help your mind focus you on the present moment.

Sense of Taste in Meditation

Herbal TEA AOMA Austin

Tea can be a calming way to relax and reflect after a meditation practice. The act of sipping tea in and of itself can be meditative. Tea can even be enjoyed before meditation as a way of slowing down to prepare one’s self to enter a calm state of mind. Tea can be both stimulating and relaxing. A good combination of both could help keep you both alert yet relaxed while you meditate.

Helping yourself relax by way of incorporating all the 5 senses will help you have a deeper meditation experience. We hope you consider enhancing your meditation practice with these above tools.

Most of these meditation tools can be purchased from the AOMA Store.

AOMA Herbal Medicine:

North Austin: 2700 W. Anderson Ln. Suite 504, Austin, TX 78757 (512) 323-6720
South Austin: 4701 West Gate Blvd. Building B, Austin, TX 78745 (512) 693-4372

Alumni Spotlight: Tio Bustillo

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 12:42 PM

Alumni Spotlight Tio Bustillo.png

Tio Bustillo, LAc, graduated from AOMA’s Master’s program in 2011 and currently is enrolled in the Doctoral program. Since graduating, Tio has been a big part of the movement to incorporate Chinese medicine into the Western healthcare system. Tio was hired to join the Integrative Medicine Department at Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, one of Texas’ largest non-profit healthcare systems. Through this position, he has been able to collaborate and work with some of the leading physicians and medical specialists in Texas. Tio is leading the charge to create even more new jobs for acupuncturists in the hospital system and also helping to provide substantial and meaning research for Chinese medicine.

Below is a brief interview with Tio:

What made you decide to study acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

Truthfully, it was never on my radar. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started. One day I was walking into Half-Price Books searching for several fitness references. While I was thumbing through a book I heard a ‘thud’ behind me. A random book had fallen off the shelf. I figured it was meant to be, so I purchased it for $7.98, plus tax. It was The Web That Has No Weaver. I went to a local coffee shop and started to read a little. Soon after, I visited AOMA and was enrolled the following week. Years later, I am still learning and practicing.

What are some of your top accomplishments since graduating?

One of my top accomplishments is being part of the Integrative Medicine Department of Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, one of Texas’ largest non-profit healthcare systems. I have been able to collaborate and work with some of the leading physicians & specialist in Texas. I feel like I am truly integrating Eastern & Western medicine and proving that it is possible. Even more helping my industry by creating more jobs and awareness in the medical community.

Why did you chose to continue on with doctoral studies at AOMA?

I decided to do the doctoral program because I feel like this will give me the credentials needed to create a strong and successful integrative medicine department within a large healthcare system. Even more, learning new methods and treatment strategies is something that I feel one has to do in order to become a well-rounded practitioner.

What did your AOMA education mean to you/prepare you for?

“One of the most impactful lessons that I learned during my time at AOMA was self-reflection and self-transformation.” – Tio Bustillo

I think AOMA gave me a strong foundation to become a Doctor of Acupuncture & Chinese medicine. This allows me to grow in any direction. One of the most impactful lessons that I learned during my time at AOMA was self-reflection and self-transformation. Your limits are truly tested, but there is personal growth that you don’t expect to happen. In the end this transformation makes someone a better health care provider.

What is your vision for your career moving forward?

I see myself being a leader in the Integrative Medicine Department at Baylor Scott & White Healthcare creating new jobs for my industry and providing substantial research for Chinese Medicine. 

What advice would you give to recent graduates about to enter the field professionally?

Your journey as a health care provider is not over. It just started. My advice is to find someone who you admire as a practitioner and learn as much as you can. Then practice what you have learned. Secondly, treat as many patients as you can. There is a big difference between theory and clinical experience. Lastly, become comfortable with Western medicine principles because you need to evolve as a practitioner and with the industry standards.

AOMA is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. What is your fondest memory of your studies here?

My fondest memory of AOMA was when I first walked into the AOMA store at the North campus. It used to be near the front parking lot where the dermatology clinic is currently located. I walked in as a first year student and headed towards the back of the store where they kept all the herbs. The smell of was over powering to the senses. I stood there looking up, then down, across and back. I was excited that I was going to know each and every one of these herbs and how they affect the body. I am still amazed that I learned and retained so much information about herbal pharmacology. Happy Anniversary to my friends and family at AOMA!

For other AOMA alumni stories, click here: AOMA Alumni Stories

Learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA:

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: alumni, alumni spotlight

An Interview with AOMA CEO, Dr. Mary Faria

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 @ 08:57 PM

MaryFaria.jpgHave you ever worked with AOMA before?

I have! I had a relationship with AOMA for many years before working here. I knew AOMA through my position at Seton Southwest Hospital. When we held community health fairs, we always invited AOMA to educate patients about acupuncture. 

Have you tried acupuncture?

Yes! I’ve been a long time patient of Dr. Zheng Zeng at AOMA acupuncture clinics. I  had trouble with hip pain from running and other inflammation problems that she helped with immensely. 

Wow! So you’re a runner?

I’m a big marathon runner! I’m in a group that races competitively. I just finished the 3M half marathon and won the division for my age group. I run or cross train  everyday except for Fridays.

Are you married? Does your partner run?

Yes! My husband and I actually celebrated our 41st anniversary this past December. He got me started with running and I joke that he’s created a monster! He can’t run anymore because of knee issues, but he travels all over the country and world  to support me at my races.

What’s something surprising about you?

I only learned to swim 10 years ago - it terrified me before! I was so determined to race in Ironman events that I finally sought the help of a recommended fitness trainer to start. I love it now! It is such a gift. I now teach others afraid of water how to swim. So if anyone out there thinks they can’t swim I’d love to help. If I can swim, anyone can!

What was your work life like before AOMA?

I first got into healthcare as a respiratory therapist. I started as an ICU therapist and was moved into supervisory and management roles. I was following my husband’s career at that time and that took us away from Austin for a while. When we returned, I got my Master’s in Healthcare Administration and immediately started working in hospital administration after that. I spent 30 years as a healthcare executive;  21 of those years with the Seton Healthcare System here in Austin, 17 of those 21 as the VP/Administrator/COO at Seton Southwest Hospital. 

So I see that also you have a PhD! Tell me about that!

Yes! In 2000 I received my PhD from UT Austin. I have a dual one in Business Administration and Educational Administration. My dissertation research was in the area of organizational change. I serve as an adjunct professor at Texas State and Concordia University in their Healthcare Administration and Business Schools.

Wow. That’s incredible, we’re really lucky to have you. What’s your best piece of advice to students, as someone who’s done a lot of school?

What I have found is sometimes people don’t recognize the value and gift of education, when you are sometimes struggling to get through it. It’s such a gift. We’re so blessed to have so many opportunities in schooling available to us, especially here in Austin. I’m a believer in lifelong learning.

What are your goals here in your position as CEO?

My biggest goal is to help AOMA achieve it’s established Strategic goals. One of the most important is the desire to find an academic partner so that we can grow in a lot of different ways. We had hoped the Bastyr partnership would be a good fit, but as you know it wasn’t. The good news is that there are plenty of wonderful organizations out there  who would make very good partners.

Another very important goal is to heighten awareness in the community about AOMA and all the great work we do in education, in direct care, and in our community. We’ve already started work with some publications I have connections with. AOMA has been around for 25 years and it’s still a hidden, secret jewel. It should be top of mind when anyone thinks about holistic care in Austin.

If you had a superpower what would it be?

Wow that’s a great one. If I had a superpower, it would be to instill compassion in all relationships. I think compassion builds empathy and empathy helps us work together much more effectively and peacefully. I think that would be a great superpower!

Well… I was going to ask you what do you do when you’re not helping AOMA run… and it sounds like you’re literally running! Do you have time for anything else?

*Laughs* so true! Running is one of my passions. I’m also very passionate about making a difference in Community Health and making the City of Austin a healthier community. I am on the Mayor’s Health and Fitness Council and Board Chair for the 2nd year, in a 3 year term. We’re doing this wonderful work with schools, neighborhoods and faith based groups, giving them the skills and incentives to eat well, exercise and take care of themselves. We’re trying to address these kinds of issues. I think it’s really important to look at the whole person.

I also serve on several advisory councils and am involved in research on human resilience. We presented  on human resilience at SXSW and the Healthier Texas Summit. We haven’t published anything yet, but we’re working on it and hoping to continue broaden our research in this field.

Is there anything else you’d like students to know about you?

My door is always open  - I’d love to know what’s on their minds, what they love about AOMA and what we can do to support them better. If you have anything you would like to share with me, you can make an appointment, send me an email, or leave a voicemail. We’re working on setting up a town hall meeting on a regular basis, so I am hoping to meet more of you then!

Read more about Mary here

Topics: Mary Faria, CEO, AOMA leadership

Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments for Cedar Allergies

Posted by Yongxin Fan on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 @ 03:45 PM

Austin Cedar Allergy treatment

Are you familiar with seasonal allergies? If you live in Austin,Texas, you probably know more about periodic wheezing, sneezing, and sniffling than just about anyone! It’s not all doom and gloom, though.  According to the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) 2016 fall Allergy Capital list, Austin is ranked at 46th place compared to 35th place in 2015(1). It appears things seem to be improving for us here in the live music capital of the world.  But while the rest of the nation generally only has two pollen seasons (fall and spring), Austin is unique in that we have three distinct pollen seasons, plus an intense winter pollen season. That is why some people call Austin the Allergy Capital of the World!

Mountain cedar pollen season extends from December to March, with peak levels usually hitting in January. Cedar pollen counts in Central Texas are among the highest pollen counts of any plant anywhere in the world. Cedar allergy, commonly referred to as "cedar fever," can be intense and debilitating. Cedar fever is a seasonal illness that affects people during pollination of the mountain cedar tree(3). As you may know firsthand, people experience severe symptoms when afflicted by cedar fever and can find that their daily activities are greatly impacted while it runs its course (2).

If you are new to Austin and have not yet experienced cedar fever (lucky you!) then you might have at least heard of this form of seasonal allergic rhinitis that comes with some extra symptoms.  On top of the usual hay fever symptoms (runny nose, itchy and watery eyes nasal blockage, and sneezing), some sufferers of cedar fever also complain of fatigue, mild headache, facial discomfort, sore throat, partial loss of smell, and ear pressure or a sense that the ears are plugged.The inflammation triggered by the allergen can even cause a mildly elevated temperature, hence the nickname “cedar fever!”

Western medicine relies on two forms of allergy treatment: medication and immunotherapy. Decongestants and antihistamines are the most common allergy medications, and they can help to reduce a stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, and itching. Corticosteroids are generally effective in treating inflammation in the nose in the form of nasal spray. Immunotherapy is a preventive strategy designed to ward off allergic reactions to substances such as pollens, etc. This involves giving gradually increasing doses of the allergen or substance to which the person is allergic. The incremental increases of the allergen cause the immune system to become less sensitive to the substance, which ultimately reduces the symptoms of the allergy. 

How TCM can help

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) relies on a more holistic approach to allergy relief.  By virtue of satisfactory clinical results due to a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbs, more and more people are realizing that seasonal suffering caused by allergens can be avoided without exclusively relying on invasive Western medical treatments. 

But, you might be asking, how does this work?

According to TCM, people who suffer from allergies experience what we term a wind invasion to the body combined with defensive Qi (vital energy) weakness of the body itself. TCM treatments are designed to treat both the root of the disease as well as the symptoms that you are experiencing. Acupuncture can treat allergies by controlling the body’s inflammatory reactions to allergens, and specific points that your practitioner selects, such as acu-points on face and foot, can relieve the nasal and facial symptoms by stimulating the far ends of the channels, or meridians, where Qi flows. 

Specific herbs can also help to reduce the inflammatory reaction and desensitize the body to allergens. Treasures from the Chinese herbal tradition, such as Huangqi (astragalus) can modulate immunity, while still others, like Cangerzi (fructus xanthil) and Juhua (Chrysanthemum flower) can lower histamine production to relieve the nasal and eye symptoms. Regular moxibustion, or heated herbal therapy, can boost the body’s immune system to prevent allergy symptoms in the first place.

Generally, people with allergies would be wise to begin TCM treatment one to two months before the allergy season, in order to allow the body to build up the necessary immunities. However, during the allergy season itself, immediate treatment can also provide great relief. Your best bet is to talk to your practitioner and find a strategy that best suits you, especially if you have a chronic allergic response that recurs each year.

Your at-home activities can also make a difference in the allergy symptoms you experience.  Do you take vitamins?  Study results demonstrate that Vitamin D supplements can alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms and treat chronic hives.  In addition, Vitamin C is a well-known immune antioxidant that lowers histamine levels to prevent the onset of allergies. Are you mindful of your diet? Dairy products, sugar, and wheat are all common contributors to allergy symptoms, so limiting your intake of these foods may help reduce your symptoms.

TCM highly values the proactive nurturing of one’s health, and there are several modalities that can help. Striving for balance in your daily life and regular self-care make a positive difference in your Qi and promote overall wellbeing.  Mind-body exercises such as qi gong can teach you to cultivate your body’s natural healing energy as well as reduce stress. Reasonable amounts of work followed by rest, a plan for managing stress, and proper diet are also important for preventing allergy symptoms. Acupuncture reduces stress, boosts mood, and helps you sleep better. By avoiding overwork and receiving sufficient hours of sleep each night, the body’s vital energy remains strong and less susceptible to allergens If you take time to enjoy yourself and maintain a happy mood, then you are doing a wonderful job supporting your health during the allergy season!

 Request an appointment at AOMA Acupuncture Clinics to get started on your allergy relief!Request an Appointment

 

(1). http://www.aafa.org/media/Fall-Allergy-Capitals-Report-Dec-2016.pdf

(2). https://www.quora.com/Why-does-Austin-TX-have-a-reputation-for-bad-allergies

(3). https://www.texasmedclinic.com/symptoms-remedies-cedar-fever-and-allergies-austin-san-antonio/

(4). http://acaai.org/allergies/treatment

Topics: tcm education

11 Best TCM Accounts to Follow Right Now

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 @ 02:54 PM

AOMA Instagram TCM accounts to follow

Ever wondered how the ancient principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine translate into the modern world of social media? As acupuncture and Chinese medicine continue to grow in popularity in America, many practitioners are turning to social networks like Instagram. Instagram can be used as a powerful tool to promote one’s practice as well as educate the public on this ancient form of healing.

Many of the Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques are visually appealing and catch the eye, such as fire cupping or burning of moxibustion. As acupuncture practitioners continue to shed light on these often mysterious and less common practices via social networks, the curiosity and interest by patients will increase as more attention is given to alternative health therapies.

We’ve done our research and found the 10 best TCM social media accounts to follow, while highlighting what sets each of them apart. Continue reading for some of the most fascinating TCM accounts to follow and hopefully you’ll have a new perspective on acupuncture and Chinese medicine. :)

(In no particular order)

1. Bob Wong - @art_of_acupuncture

Bob Wong’s focus on social media is providing high quality photos of acupuncture and cupping, while educating the public on what TCM has to offer. Most of his photos are monochromatic, which creates unique and powerful imagery, showing the artistic side of acupuncture. He uses primarily his wife as an acupuncture model out of their home, in which he has set up a black backdrop. Bob also posts videos of various TCM treatments and has a blog interviewing TCM practitioners. His social media presence is one of a kind, and one you’re definitely going to want to follow.

2. Carolyn Barron, L.Ac. - @Botanarchy

 

A post shared by Carolyn Barron, L.Ac. (@botanarchy) on

Carolyn Barron is a licensed acupuncturist practicing out of Los Angeles, California. Her practice has an emphasis on herbal medicine, with her Instagram page highlighting photos of various herbs and recipes. Her images are warm and welcoming, and she showcases other treatment tools on her page such as tuning forks, mindfulness and nutritional recipes. Carolyn draws importance and attention on self care and women’s health issues with a muted color palette collection of photography and graphics.

3. TCM Herb a Day - @tcmherbaday

 

A post shared by TCM Herb a Day (@tcmherbaday) on

TCM Herb a Day is one of the best educational Instagram pages to follow, highlighting various Chinese single herbs everyday. The photos are bright and vibrant, showing the raw herb form used medicinally and the plant the herb is derived from. Posts are daily including explanations of the herbs and how they are used medicinally with Chinese herbal medicine. If you are still learning Chinese herbs, or want a daily review, this is the best page to follow.

4. LILYCHOINATURALHEALING.COM - @Lilychoinaturalhealing

Lily Choi is a licensed acupuncturist currently practicing in NYC. Her instagram page is educationally informative as well as visually pleasing. Her photos start health minded conversations, with each day highlighting either a health food item, natural remedies, or general health concerns. Lily uses instagram as an educational tool, highlighting how food can be used as medicine and explaining Chinese herbs and other natural remedies in layman's terms. The conversations she starts are common questions and concerns many patients have, and her opinions are holistic in nature, providing a safe place for open discussion. 

5. Anthony Guadamuz, AP - @Integrative_medicine

Anthony Guadamuz is an acupuncture physician working out of Miami, Florida. He is also an AOMA alumnus. His social media highlights the power of tai chi and meditation on overall health and wellness, as well as how Chinese medicine can treat a variety of health concerns. It is clear that Anthony practices what he preaches with his personal photos of his mind-body exercises. His images are bright with contrast and he frequently posts live videos and stories regarding health concerns via Instagram.

6. Dr. Laurie Binder - @Acupuncture_la 

Dr. Laurie Binder is a L.Ac., MS, RNCNP, and LCCE practicing in Santa Monica, California. Her page is bright and colorful highlighting mostly health recipes and motivational quotes. Dr. Binder promotes healthy eating and how easy it can be to make these healthy meals at home. Follow her page for nutritional inspiration.

7. Evolution Acupuncture - @Acuevolution

Catherine Craig, L.Ac. has a boutique acupuncture studio located in the heart of downtown Red Bank, NJ. Her page includes pictures of herbs, outdoors, yoga, acupuncture, and clinical photos. She uses bright, simplistic images overall and uses these images to highlight holistic health minded topics. 

8. Magnolia Acupuncture - @magnoliaacupuncture

 

2018 is starting off just the way it should: delicious and colorful!

A post shared by Magnolia Acupuncture (@magnoliaacupuncture) on

Magnolia Acupuncture is out of Costa Mesa, CA showcasing the practice through very bright, fun images of work and personal life with family. Angela Sinnett inspires others who may want to achieve an optimal work/life balance as a professional acupuncturist. You’ll also find nutrition and food images, pictures and videos of her treating clients, as well as scenic shots of the Pacific Ocean!

9. Chinese Medicine PortMacquarie - @empiricalhealth

 

Getting it all sorted out #chinesemedicine

A post shared by Chinese Medicine PortMacquarie (@empiricalhealth) on

Empirical Health heavily focuses on the beauty of raw Chinese herbs! Here you’ll find up close and personal shots of these colorful and beautiful Chinese herbs, teas, and capsules. Explore the multitudes of variety in the Chinese herbal spectrum!

10. Acupuncture Collective - @Acupuncturecollective

Acupuncture Collective hosts a beautiful community acupuncture space where they treat clients. You’ll discover many images of patients being treated in community style acupuncture, along with some images of herbs and nature photographs. Here you’ll find a variety of TCM visual inspiration and new found appreciation for community. Interested in trying community style acupuncture but feared the open door aspect? Follow this page, and you’ll be sure to change your mind. 

11. Charlotte Alvarez - @Onemedicine

Charlotte is an acupuncturist licensed by the state of Minnesota. She has beautifully put together media with a smooth flow of images using similar themes and filters for the images. Her images typically show patients receiving treatments, with cupping and acupuncture needles. Other images show off the relaxing and clean treatment space with many plants and a basic white/clean look. She also sprinkles in shots of herbs and whole foods, to add a nicely balanced page, covering all there is to Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine can feel foreign and because of that, it may deter you from trying it. Social media can allow us to have a better awareness of things we might not otherwise be exposed to. Take some time to check out these pages and familiarize yourself with the beauty and wonder that is Chinese medicine. If you aren’t already - also follow us on Instagram for more TCM related posts. We love hearing from our readers. Let us know what TCM accounts you follow!

Topics: acupuncture, tcm, tcm education, acupuncture social media, social media

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