AOMA Blog

What to expect your first term at AOMA

Posted by Kate Donelon on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

Kate Donelon

If you’ve found your way to this blog post, you’re likely interested in attending AOMA or—even more exciting—you’re already enrolled as an incoming student. Either way, welcome and congratulations on choosing this path since it’s a big step, no matter if you’re jumping right into another round of studies from your undergraduate degree, starting a new “second life” from a well-established career, or somewhere in between! Unlike undergraduate studies and many traditional graduate programs, there are not as many resources to research, select, and prepare for an advanced degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, and you might be left wondering what to expect. To help provide some perspective on what your first term at AOMA might look like, here are some personal insights I gained during my first few months that hopefully will assist on the first step of this journey.

Here’s a quick overview of all the areas covered if you would like to scan ahead to a particular area:

—What can I expect the first week of class?

—What are the classes themselves like?

—What do students wear to class?

—What kind of schedule can I expect?

—What supplies are helpful?

—What are studies like outside the classroom?

—What about needling?

—How can I best prepare myself for this program?

What can I expect the first week of class?

Your first official day at AOMA will be a new student orientation the week before classes begin. Similar to any orientation, it’s a lot of information that will provide a general familiarization with the school, staff and faculty, available resources, and the road ahead to your degree. You will also spend some time covering administrative items such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and you’ll have an opportunity to continue to check in with this type of information regularly in homeroom meetings that are held each term. Orientation is also a great opportunity to get to know the members of your cohort, exchange emails, and start to create group text messages.

Once classes begin, significant time that first day of each course will be dedicated to providing an administrative overview, to include the course roadmap, assignments, exams, participation, attendance, and any other expectations. All of this information will be provided through AOMA’s Student Portal, which has a section dedicated to each class where the instructor uploads pertinent information, such as the syllabus, readings, and homework assignments. Each instructor is available through email, and many also offer weekly office hours.

Recommendation: Check your student portal in the days leading up to the first week of class to familiarize yourself with the course and review the syllabus. Most instructors do not provide the syllabus in class, so be sure to bring an electric or printed copy if you’d like to reference it (there is free WiFi on campus).

What are the classes themselves like?

Each class lasts about three hours, with most instructors providing a break every hour. Individual class schedules often run 9:30am-12:30am or 2-5pm, but this may vary. In Fall, Winter, and Spring terms, these classes meet once a week; in the Summer, they meet more frequently. Students take notes either electronically or hand written. It’s always a good idea to have some paper available for many of the diagrams you’ll want to draw, especially if you’re enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology. Your mind body class will meet once a week and run for an hour. Be prepared for a quick pace and lots of notes, along with plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

What do students wear to class?

Attire is very casual and students wear whatever is comfortable. Many classes involve palpation, so you’ll often be wearing tank tops and shorts or pants that can be rolled up. For the mind body classes, you’ll want to dress to be able to move around. If you’re attending any type of clinic or class in which you’ll be using needles, closed toe shoes are expected, along with attire appropriate for that setting.

Recommendation: If you’re like me and left a career of suits and business clothes to come to AOMA, you might get excited about cleaning out your closet. Jeans are not worn when you start working in the clinic, so keep that in mind as you’re deciding what clothing to bring along on the journey.

What kind of schedule can I expect?

This will vary based on the pace at which you’re approaching the program —fast-track, full-time, or part-time—and what prerequisites you might already have. Within your first term(s), you might expect a Foundations course, Anatomy and Physiology (A&P), and Point Locations, all of which run in a series of three courses over three terms (ex. A&P 1-3). You also have the opportunity for a mind body course in Qigong or Taiji, Clinic Theater, Acupuncture Techniques, Palpation, and Biomedical Terminology. It’s possible you may find yourself with one weekday off a week, and weekends are generally free. You might only have one class one day, and two another that are coupled with clinic or your mind body class. You’ll spend a lot of time studying outside of class, especially for finals, but many students still manage to juggle part-time work hours successfully. Classes will run about 12 weeks, with the exception of the Summer term, with one-week breaks around the sixth week and at the end of the term; in the Fall term, that break falls around the eighth or ninth week, and you get a two week break before Winter term. Before each term, you’ll work on-one-one with an advisor on the AOMA team to help chart out the road ahead and provide advice on your schedule. You may also schedule time with any of the advisors whenever you might like.

Recommendation: One great piece of advice I was given by successful acupuncturist was to hold off working during the first term if at all possible. This is tough given the financial burdens of everyday life, much less school, but it allows opportunity to start to find your stride and make the transition. You might also want to take a look at the Program at a Glance section of the latest AOMA program catalogs, which you can find here under the Program Catalogs section. On that same page, you can also find a link to the Academic Calendar to see exact dates for breaks and terms.

What supplies are helpful?

A lot of this will depend on your personal preference, but below are some items that most students found useful. You might expect to spend about $500 (give or take) on all these supplies and books, and keep in mind AOMA has a great library as well. Some students have been able to get old textbooks from other students, or from local bookstores (like Half Price Books).

—Laptop, tablet, and/or notebooks/notepaper - whatever you’d like to take notes

—Colored pens and highlighters

—Index cards

—Pencils (especially for exams)

—“Dots” - load up on these since you’ll use them when learning and practicing points (you’ll want 1/4” round stickers, such as Avery Color Coding Labels, which you can find on Amazon or at WalMart)

—Quizlet - you can get a free account, and this is a great alternative to index cards

It’s usually best to wait until the first day of any class to find out information about the required texts for class, which can be tough if you like to be prepared in advance. Based on my personal experience, you’ll most likely want to get copies of the following books for your first term (note: these are subject to change given the pace of new editions). You can usually find the best prices online, and AOMA also offers some of these in the store. While it seems like a pricy investment, my impression is that these texts will be resources for multiple classes, as well as preparations for board exams.

—A Manual of Acupuncture - Peter Deadman (ISBN: 9780951054659) - a must have!

—The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, 3rd Edition.- Giovanni Maciocia (ISBN: 9780702052163)

—Anatomy and Physiology, The Unity of Form and Function, 8th Edition - Ken Saladin (ISBN: 9781259277726

—Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 19th Printing - Cheng Xinnong (ISBN: 9787119059945)

—A Guide to Point Location - Fuyiu Yip - this soft-bound resource is available at the AOMA store

Recommendation: The Manual of Acupuncture (Deadman) app is also fantastic and will be a great resource alongside the text. The text often comes with a coupon for the app, so if you wanted to start familiarizing with some of the points, you could certainly purchase this book and app in advance of getting to AOMA.

kate and garrison

What are studies like outside the classroom?

Remember that question you likely got during your interview asking how you memorize a lot of information? There’s a reason that’s asked! This program inherently involves a great deal of memorization, which takes a lot…a lot…of time investment. You’ll be memorizing all of the acupuncture points, groups of points, needle depths/angles, muscles, information tied to the Five Elements, and the list goes on, not to mention herbs and herbal formulas once you begin those classes. Homework is class dependent, but most instructors are mindful about the homework and integrate this information in exams/exam prep, so all of the information ties together. You might have questions to answer, diagrams to draw, or some reasonable amounts of reading from one of the texts or an uploaded resource in your portal. Exams themselves might consist of multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, and/or essay questions, and you’ll also have practical components when it comes to Point Locations, Palpation, and Techniques, to name a few. Composing written reflections is another big part of the program, and you might begin to encounter these reflections your first term in Palpation class and clinic.

Recommendation: You’ll develop your own techniques for learning this information, but one option to consider is reviewing material the evening after each class and following up on a regular basis. It is a lot that might be very tough to cram in successfully the hours before an exam, so frequent review—even in small doses—might help build that foundation. Everyone at AOMA, no matter what term or year they are in, are all very willing to work together and help each other out, so you’ll likely find yourself working together with other students to practice and study (and also commiserate!). AOMA also offers great Student Services, which include mentors and tutors, as well as a whole well-thought-out website of resources with links that you’ll get just before orientation.

School-Life Balance Recommendation: Hobbies, self-care, and personal time with friends, family, and pets are all things you’ll want to incorporate in your days and weeks. While things will inevitably shift in your life as you immerse yourself in this intense program from a both schedule and financial perspectives—among many other things—it’s important to still make time for those things that make you happy and allow you to unplug.

What about needling?

You’ll have the excitement of purchasing your first needles from the AOMA store within your first couple weeks of class, and Acupuncture Techniques I will be your first foray into performing needling. You’ll begin spending a few weeks needling inanimate objects, such as a pack of tissues, a massage table, or a pillow, and your first needle in class will likely be on yourself. You’ll then work under the close care of your instructors in Techniques class, gathering in small groups to begin practicing needling on others. You’ll needle safe, fleshy spots on the arms and legs to begin. This might seem overwhelming at first as this is not a skill with which most of us are familiar in any way, but try and remember that you are only a beginning once, so enjoy the ride and ask a lot of questions. This will be an area you can practice on yourself, but likely will find more benefit working with your other students to palpate and needle.

Recommendation: Take as many opportunities as possible to work with as many other students and individuals as possible since every body is different, and skill is built on practice and experience.

How can I best prepare myself for this program?

More than likely, Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture are areas about which you’re already passionate, so you may have some general familiarity with the concepts of meridians or channels, the Five Elements, Yin and Yang, and maybe even basic human anatomy. Since the pace of each of the classes is quite intense, any baseline familiarity—even simply having seen some of these concepts before—can help provide context as you get started. You might also brush up on basic anatomy, if you’re not coming in with that background already, to assist with Anatomy and Physiology I. Some personal recommended readings that I read in the years leading up to my decision to attend AOMA include:

—Between Heaven and Earth - Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold

—The Web That Has No Weaver - Ted Kaptchuk

—The Spark in the Machine - Dan Keown

—Voices of Qi - Alex Holland

You can also find a lot of videos on YouTube, or even look up Podcasts on the subject (there are some good ones out there with Dan Keown that I ran across). As mentioned earlier, the Peter Deadman book and app are great and, in hindsight, would have been great resources to browse. AOMA also has another blog article by Kate Wetzel on recommended reading—a lot of which overlaps with my list—which you can find here.

If you haven’t already had an acupuncture treatment, I highly recommend gaining that experience. You will have the opportunity to get acupuncture treatments at AOMA’s clinic, and many students come into the program without having had a treatment, but it is incredibly helpful to provide perspective. If you can get regular treatments and maybe gather insights from your acupuncturist, even better!

All this might seem like a great deal of information; however, the fascination and excitement you’ll experience as you delve into this medicine will take center stage and continue to remind you why you chose this path. Know that you not only have a bunch of resources available to you at AOMA, but that a group of fellow students who are on the same path and going through similar experiences, will be alongside you from the moment you step foot on campus your first day. If you have any other additional questions about student life, or even relocating to Austin, don’t hesitate to reach out to the AOMA admissions team. Best of luck, and welcome again to this great journey!

Topics: acupuncture students, graduate school, aoma students, tcm school, grad school, aoma

Treating Qi Stagnation with Exercise

Posted by Nicole Fillion-Robin on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 @ 12:05 PM

Qi stagnation is a common diagnosis in any modern clinic, with the stressors of daily life making us all a little more stressed, achy from hour-long commutes, and irritable to be around.

 

waves and a sunset

 

An easy way to visually think of qi stagnation, is as the movement of water in a stream. If you think of a stream that stops flowing or of an eddy, the water might start to get cloudy. It might smell a little muddled - that “old water smell.” Algae might grow more abundantly. Sticks and litter may collect there. When you have a stream that is full and moving continuously, there’s no time for the water to get cloudy. Any disturbances from hiking through or an animal digging something up, will be easily be carried downriver.

"Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." (Legally Blonde)

exercise-gives-you-endorphins-endorphins-make-you-happy-happypeoplefust-don-34541298

Qi stagnation can manifest both emotionally and physically. Emotionally, people may feel like there are emotions stuck that they are unable or unwilling to express. Ever feel like you are wound up, or bottling emotions up? Then you already know what Liver qi stagnation feels like.

Physically, a common way qi stagnation can show up as pain. A classic Chinese saying is:

Where there is free flow there is no pain. Where there is pain there is no free flow.”

While it might not be pleasant to start moving your body in ways it’s not used to, it’s often a sign of your body waking up. Pay attention to where things are creaky and achy. That might be ok and get better with more use (think of it as WD-40-ing your joints). Sharp pain? Probably your body telling you to back off (and to consult with a practitioner!).

Ease back into movement with light exercises or stretches. Yoga, qigong, taiji, swimming at the greenbelt, and walks are all ways to invite movement back into your life if you are feeling ready. Hate lifting weights? Then that gym membership is probably not for you. Choose something you love and you will want to do it more often. Start moving that qi and both your mind and body will thank you.

Need some inspiration?

  • We have free mindbody classes on campus during every quarter - qigong and yoga this coming term.
  • Set an alarm on your phone to take a walk around the block every hour or so. If you are a student, go with friends over break.
  • Take your pup for an early morning or bedtime walk (make sure the pavement is cool enough by walking around barefoot yourself and that it’s below 90 degrees).
  • South Austin Roller Rink has $7 adult skate night on Sundays and Wednesday, skate rental included! DJ and some fantastic people watching to be had.
  • Stretch on breaks! @joetherpy is one of my favorite resources.
  • Barton Springs Pool is free to the public before 8 AM and after 9 PM, and a great way to beat the summer heat. 
  • Reminder: many yoga studios are donation based - I have had some tough financial weeks and given $4 for a class. The only person who felt awkward was me.
  • Yoga-Yoga offers a 20% discount for AOMA employees and students.
  • If you are more of a homebody yogi, the youtube channel Yoga with Adriene (an Austinite!) is fantastic and hilarious.
  • The FITT Finder app is a local startup that shows you free fitness classes all around Austin.

Topics: stress relief, medical qigong, tai chi, stress management, aoma students

Reagan Taylor, AOMA Master's Graduate and DAOM Student

Posted by Brian Becker on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 @ 11:59 AM

 

Please introduce yourself! Where are you from? Where did you go to undergraduate?  What did you study?

My name is Reagan Taylor, and I am from Austin, TX. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was actually grown up, but once I discovered how intriguing acupuncture and Chinese medicine I never turned back. In my research to find a good school, I didn’t need to look any farther than my hometown…I heard that AOMA had a great program with higher educational standards than other schools throughout the country.  I familiarized myself with the requirements for admission and studied AOMA’s curriculum. From there, I focused my studies at Austin Community College in biology, health sciences, sociology, and psychology to prepare me for patient care.

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

I lived in Oregon for several years learning how to blow soft glass; making vases, sculptures, paper weights.  While I was having fun, I didn’t feel like I was really serving a purpReagan Taylorose. I moved back to Austin and began work at a wonderful organization, The Marbridge Foundation, which is a residential care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities.  I worked there full-time before starting AOMA master’s program.  I stayed on as a part-time employee all throughout my time at AOMA, and left Marbridge all together about a year ago. It was a wonderful place to work and my experiences there instilled in me patience, communication skills, and stress management skills for myself as well as for patients.

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

What kind of trick question is this?!?  There is no way I can really choose a favorite instructor from AOMA because they are all wonderful in their own way.  As a current doctoral student, I recently took the Neurology class with Dr. Amy Moll because I have a special interest in neurological systems and disorders. Dr. Moll is an exceptional educator with incredible knowledge of functional neurology and ways to treat disorders with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

How would you describe the Student Culture at AOMA?

Personally, I have found the student culture at AOMA to be very welcoming and warm.  During my time as a master’s student, and now as a doctoral candidate, I have found a lot of support amongst my cohorts.  Friends I made as a master’s student are still some of my closest friends and biggest supporters.  Students always seem to be finding ways to lift each other up, whether it’s forming a study group or carving out much needed time for fun or relaxation.  The students here all have very diverse backgrounds, and everyone is here for their own reason so we learn from each other.

What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why? Describe your experiences at AOMA.

I have really appreciated the high standard of education I’ve received at AOMA.  I’ve also always felt very supported and heard by the faculty and staff here.  After graduation, I maintained a relationship with AOMA and worked as a part-time clinical teaching assistant, which then blossomed into my current position as the full-time clinical resident.  It’s been interesting to go from being a student, to faculty member, and now a hybrid of doctoral student and faculty member. I get to see and experience all sides of AOMA, which has only added to my appreciation for this institution.

What benefits do you feel earning your Doctorate will afford you, and how did you decide which one was the best choice for your career?

Earning my doctorate will not only open up a lot of doors for me as far as my career, but it’s also providing me with a deeper clinical understanding and exposing me to some amazing, more advanced techniques.  I started out in the DAcOM program (first professional doctorate) and made the decision to switch to the DAOM, which will challenge me in ways I never knew I wanted to be challenged.  Earning my DAOM, will open up doors for me to work in academia and research and provide me with vast clinical insights.  I decided to switch programs because, as AOMA’s clinical resident, I have found I really enjoy working with students in the clinical setting, helping them learn, while also working with patients.  The DAOM arms with the knowledge I need as well as the credentials necessary for a career in education.

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?

Before starting the program, I viewed Chinese medicine and its founding philosophy as mystical and magical.  After learning so much more, I no longer see it quite like that.  Now, I understand it as an extremely logical and scientifically sound medical practice…ancient physicians just had a different language and ways to describe how our bodies function and the cause of disease.

What are you plans after completing your Doctorate?

I have developed a real passion for clinical education.  Once I receive my DAOM, I hope to serve in that capacity.  I always want to be a clinician, working with and treating patients, but I would also like to be deeply involved with teaching other people how to be great practitioners.  Developing clinical curriculum, treating patients, and helping students become confident in their abilities are all things I believe are well suited to my personality, strengths, and talents and I hope to be doing exactly that in my future.

Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, DAOM, MAcOM, aoma students, chinese medicine, tcm education, acupunture

Meet Katie: Registered Nurse Turned Acupuncture Student

Posted by Brian Becker on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 @ 12:10 PM

 Katie Shea

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?

My name is Katie Shea and I grew up in Chicago. I went to Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) for undergrad and received a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I began attending the master’s program at AOMA Fall of 2017.

What were you doing before you came to AOMA?

Before coming to AOMA, I was practicing as a registered nurse. I spent over a year in the emergency room immediately after graduating from college then transferred departments to work in a cardiac electrophysiology lab. I am continuing to practice as a nurse and work with cardiac patients while attending AOMA.

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

My first introduction to acupuncture was at AOMA with Dr. Luo. I have always been interested in alternative therapies and was curious about TCM. I learned right away how effective acupuncture and herbs could be, as it quickly alleviated multiple vague symptoms I was experiencing at the time. Eventually, I began having regular treatments for both chronic and acute issues (I was training for a marathon at the time) and felt a deep connection to the subtle yet powerful nature of this medicine.

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?

Many factors were involved in my decision to embark on this journey into Chinese medicine. As a nurse, I understand the importance of providing safe and effective care to patients. I was also becoming familiar that one medical paradigm is not sufficient to solve all of the health concerns that face our modern world. As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I am also aware that there is much more to health than simply not getting sick; it is about learning how to listen to your body and act in a way that promotes balance. To me, that is the exact nature of Chinese medicine - to correct the small imbalances and promote harmony in the body in a nuanced yet long-lasting and sustainable way.

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

My favorite class at AOMA so far is Foundations with Dr. Wu. I could take this class over and over (which I did) and continue to learn so much from a professor that has an abundance of knowledge yet presents the material in a very simple way.

 What is your favorite thing about AOMA and why? Describe your experiences at AOMA.

My favorite aspect of AOMA is that everyone is so open, generous with their own personal challenges and health journeys, and unsparing with their energy and attention. I frequently find myself in an insightful conversation with a group of intelligent people that have very diverse backgrounds. I have also noticed the willingness of AOMA students to help one another in a time of need. On multiple occasions, I have been truly touched by the acts of kindness or simple gestures to help and support a fellow colleague. I feel very lucky to be involved in this community.

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

I have not yet started to treat as an intern but there have been many unique moments that have surprised me, particularly in the acupuncture clinic at the Kerrville Folk Festival. It was incredible to see the amount of patients that AOMA students were able to serve, free of charge, in a modest, four-bed clinic. The complaints ranged from joint pain from worn-out musicians and heat-related issues from camping outside in Texas in June to deep emotional pain from years of trauma. Each patient displayed openness and gratitude and showed a willingness to contribute to their own healing by taking what the practitioner said seriously; this was something I did not expect in such a casual setting.

 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?

For the most part, my perceptions of Chinese medicine have been consistent with my expectations entering the program. As I learn more, however, I realize that TCM and conventional medicine have more in common than many people realize. The two disciplines are simply describing the same body using a different language (both literally and figuratively) and coming to very similar conclusions. My hope for the future of healthcare is that we continue in a direction toward a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. It is no coincidence that one system picks up where the other leaves off; it is because both are necessary if the healthcare team intends to both treat illness while also maintaining positive health.

 What are you plans after graduation?

Following graduation, I would like to travel and volunteer my time and skills while acquiring the experience necessary to start my own practice. Eventually, my goal is to combine both eastern and western modalities in order to provide patients with well-rounded care. This will ideally include a multidisciplinary practice that utilizes many different approaches to healthcare in a way that not only treats illness but also supports optimal functioning.


Want to learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA? Contact the AOMA admissions office! 

Request Information

Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, acupuncture students, aoma students, acupunture

Meet Francesca: Massage Therapist, Mother of 4, and Acupuncture Student

Posted by Rob Davidson on Wed, Sep 26, 2018 @ 02:24 PM

 Francesca Moore-2

Please Introduce yourself! 

Hi, I am Francesca Moore, from New York. I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and received a Bachelors of Industrial Design with a concentration on Fine Art Ceramics. I also did Post-Baccalaureate study in Fine Art Ceramics at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. In 2009 I made a drastic career change, leaving the world of art and design to work in the healing arts. I received my AOS in Massage Therapy and  Advanced Personal Training Certificate from the Swedish Institute in New York. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Certified Strength an Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

I started at AOMA in Winter of 2015 and will officially graduate the Master's program in Fall 2018. I started working on my Professional Doctorate degree concurrently and hope to complete that coursework in 2019.

What are some of your other interests/hobbies outside Chinese medicine?

My husband and I have 4 small kids, ages 6, 4, 2 and 1.  We moved out to the Hill Country last year and hope to be able to spend more time enjoying nature. We love to hike with the kids and some day soon I hope to get back to cycling and kayaking.

What made you want to study acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

My experiences as a young designer in a high paced firm, quickly ascending the ranks, left me feeling out of balance, sick and miserable. Finding Chinese Medicine and working with a wonderful practitioner changed my entire being and gave me the new direction of working to help people improve their health. In the State of New York, half of the massage therapy training required is Five Element Shiatsu.Most of my instructors were also acupuncturists or students of Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine concepts and Five Element theory were well integrated into my education at Swedish and I knew when I completed that training that I would become a student of Chinese Medicine some day. Ironically, one of my last design projects was a hotel in Beijing and my firm just finished a project in Chendu.

Please describe your top accomplishments since starting the program!

I passed my Herbal Board exam on the first try! My youngest son also turned 1. Keeping my children alive while being a student was definitely an accomplishment!

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

I have met so many wonderful people at AOMA! The connections I have made with other students and practitioners have been invaluable. I feel well prepared to provide high quality, patient centered care once I step out into the world as a licensed practitioner. AOMA has also prepared me for a lifetime of learning. I know I have only scratched the surface in my studies of Chinese Medicine and look forward to narrowing my focus and continuing my studies to specialize in TCM Pediatrics and Gynecology as well as Oncology. 

What, if any perceptions of Chinese medicine have changed from when you started the program to now?

Many of the OM practitioners I worked with in NYC were Classically trained students from a particular lineage who painted a picture of TCM as inferior to their traditions. It's clear to me now that it's all the same medicine.

What is your vision for the future of healthcare/medicine and your career moving forward?

The Bravewell Collaborative's definition of the integrative medicine approach, really resonates with me. I strongly value the partnership between patient and practitioner throughout the healing process and I trust the body’s innate response and ability to heal itself.  As medical providers, we have a responsibility to consider all factors that influence health, wellness and disease. We may not be able to affect change on them all, but when treating diseases of the body, we should consider how the mind, spirit, community and environment relate to causes of illness as well as treatment strategies. We should be aware that each of these factors is one piece of a larger puzzle for affecting change. I hope to practice in a fully integrative setting where I can collaborate with biomedical practitioners and practitioners of other CAM modalities.

What advice would you give to recent or soon-to-be graduates about to enter the field professionally?

Familiarize yourself with board exam topics and work on a study plan as early as possible. There are a few topics of study I wish I hadn't glossed over and a few other that I could have put on the back burner until after completing the licensing process...and stay on top of your portfolio! They aren't kidding!

AOMA is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. Please tell your fondest memory of your studies here, and also feel free to give your Anniversary wishes!

One of my most formative experiences at AOMA was as an observer in clinic with Elizabeth Fordyce.  A patient came in crying and had been dealing with excruciating nerve pain for several days. Elizabeth came in to check on her, inserted one needle and the pain STOPPED.  It was incredible to watch and showed me the power of this medicine!

Happy Anniversary AOMA!   


Want to learn more about the Master's Program at AOMA? Contact the AOMA admissions office! 

Request Information

Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, acupuncture students, aoma students, acupunture

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

Student Spotlight_ Jenna Valentine-1

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

Meet Greg Green, AOMA Director of Admissions

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 @ 01:30 PM

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Greg is the new Director of Admissions making him the first point of contact for prospective students considering AOMA. Greg Green has over 20 years of experience working in higher education, staffing and entrepreneurial endeavors.  His background has included facilitating the launch of online graduate programs for Baylor University and Louisiana State University.  He holds a BS in Management from University of Phoenix and is currently pursuing an MBA from Texas A&M University.  His passion for helping others succeed in life and education led him to the doors of AOMA.

Away from work Greg enjoys being outdoors. He is also a certified rescue diver and has owned 5 business and invented two products which are still in commercial applications. 

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

Topics: admissions, aoma students

Will Morris: New Focus as AOMA Resident Scholar and President Emeritus

Posted by William Morris on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 @ 12:44 PM

Dear AOMA Community,

It is not without mixed feelings that I call upon the Board of Governors to begin a search for a new president. As I gaze upon the final 1/3 of my life, it has become necessary for me to release a portion of my work which has been a primary focus for the last ten years the role as president of AOMA. It is now time to refine and cultivate the teachings with which I have been gifted by family lineages and literate traditions.

Good leadership requires a timely and healthy transfer of roles and responsibilities. The transition to a new president will take place according to these values.

At this crossroad, I would like to take the opportunity to send gratitude and blessings to this community. I could not have had the success that has taken place over the last ten years without a team composed of remarkable grit and commitment. Especially, thank you to: Linda Fontaine, Jamie Wu, Anne Province, Lesley Hamilton, John Finnell, Donna Hurta and Cara Edmond. The AOMA board of governors has provided extraordinary wisdom and insight in guiding the mission of the institution; thank you for your commitment. AOMA has the finest faculty in the field and I am privileged to work at their side. AOMA students generate an extraordinary community whereby learning is extended through their passion for the work and each other. I would like to recognize especially those learners I have worked with in the clinic; that is the highlight of my week. The staff at AOMA is nothing less than amazing, pursuing institutional goals with enthusiasm and tenacity, thank you.

I am pleased that I will remain with AOMA in the role of Resident Scholar and President Emeritus. To this end, I am wishing health, wealth and happiness for every recipient of this note and to those lives which AOMA has had the opportunity to touch.

Warmly,

Will

Topics: acupuncture school, aoma students

Meet Peter Schechter, Student and Career Services Assistant

Posted by Rob Davidson on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 @ 09:45 AM

Peter Schechter, Student and Career Services Assistant

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Peter is the Student and Career Services Assistant here at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. He works with the greater community of Austin to coordinate the Lunchtime Brown Bag Lectures here at AOMA. Also, he works within the AOMA community to help coordinate events with the AOMA Student Association and other student clubs and organizations. Currently, Peter is working on a program to offer increased support and advice for people who have recently graduated. Peter also assists in organizing the biennial China study trips by processing document and helping students get in touch with Dr. Tan about the program.

Students should get in touch with Peter if they’re interested in joining any student clubs or activities, the Brown Bag Series, the China Study Trip or have any ideas as to how Student Services can better serve the student body. Also, anyone needing to be added to the alumni directory here at AOMA should contact Peter.

3 things that make Peter special:

1. His favorite short quote it “Cease, cows, life is short.”

2. His most treasured object is an old manual impact driver inherited from his grandfather.

3. He has a poke-and-stick tattoo on his left wrist. He advises against poke-and-stick tattoos.

Master's Program Fact Sheet

Topics: student services, aoma students, china trip, grad school, china

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