Checking in on Pam Ferguson, former Dean of Asian Bodywork Therapy at AOMA.

Posted by Brian Becker on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 @ 02:35 PM

Give us a brief synapse on your latest book, which we understand is going live on Amazon very soon

Crossing Lines

CROSSING LINES is now live on Amazon as an e-book! Later on a paperback will be available. But as the work is set during the week of Halloween/el Dia de los Muertos - I was keen to launch it before the end of October.  This is my 11th book published to date. Previous books - including textbooks that are in the AOMA library - were published on both sides of the Atlantic.  Living in Austin inspired the storyline of CROSSING LINES including a range of Border politics and what it means to be a Border state.  CROSSING LINES is a sad murder story within a family dynamic in Austin and the Border, and involving a land inheritance controversy dating back to Spanish Texas. The story also involves the heartbreaking reality of femicide.

Tell us about your journey with TCM and Asian Bodywork Therapy. 

Ah, my first career was as an investigative journalist  in the UK and USA and author of books on topics ranging from  the Middle East conflict, to political thrillers based in the Olympic Games, to works of fiction based on my investigative reporting on the tobacco and liquor industries. I came upon Asian Medicine quite by chance when I lived  next door to an Acupuncture clinic in Japantown San Francisco at the end of the 1970s and my partner gave me the classic book on Zen Shiatsu by Shizuto Masunaga. I realized this was what I had to study as I always had a knack  - instinctively - for finding acupoints that released pain while nursing my mother through endless migraines. I trained at the Ohashi  Institute in New York City and was asked to become an instructor - and they sent me to teach courses in Canada and  Switzerland. That kicked off my 3 decades of helping expand Shiatsu training in  Canada, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria -  prompting me to write textbooks on Shiatsu, and on the Five Elements. That's how my two careers became one.  In 2008 I co-edited, co-authored SAND TO SKY with Debra Duncan Persinger PhD, as the first anthology of interviews with global authors of Asian Medicine in the 21st century. We honored several AOMA instructors in this work - including Stuart Watts, AOMA's founder.

You've had a long relationship with AOMA. Share with us how you first became involved and some of the work you've done with us.

Stuart Watts first recruited me to develop AOBTA compliant training in Asian Bodywork Therapy at AOMA when I joined the fledgling school in 1996. Both Stuart and I spent years on the AOBTA board. It was a joy to create a whole new Zen Shiatsu program styled to fit in with the Acupuncture curriculum and with one semester devoted to the Five Elements.  We arranged offsite student clinics at St David's North Austin Medical Center,  at retirement centers, the Safe Place, at the School for the Blind, and at a residential  addiction rehab center. I'm deeply proud of this community outreach and how it spread AOMA's great reputation and the skills of really talented and pams_pic_in_back_garden-smallenthusiastic students.  I left AOMA about a decade ago as Dean of  Asian Bodywork Therapy, but continued to teach one of the Ethics classes until 2019, and CE workshops. I'm so proud to have been a part of the teaching foundation of AOMA, with Drs. Wu, He, Wang, Shen, Fan, Qiu,  Mandyam, helping move AOMA from Stuart’s dream and a couple of rooms on West Anderson Lane into the wonderful, expansive  Westgate campus of AOMA  today. I will always be a part of the AOMA spirit.  And I relive that spirit as the ABT columnist for Acupuncture Today.  Writing this column has also  enabled me to  weave in some biting issues of the day - like racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia,  and body shaming  - within Asian Medicine. See my  AT columns for November and December 2020.

You are one of the  former Presidents of the (former) Vermont based Breast Cancer Action Group, what are some of the things you’ve done in support of those living with Breast Cancer? 

As a survivor of metastatic breast cancer , I transformed the experience into a teaching tool and innovated new ways of working with cancer patients . I developed a range of Qi-inspired postmastectomy exercises I titled DRAWING CIRCLES, and  have taught these exercises to Acupuncturists, Shiatsu Therapists, Physical and Occupational Therapists, RNs and MDs working with cancer survivors globally. I have also taught breast cancer survivor groups how to move with Qi to prevent lymphedema and overcome the fear and hesitancy many feel. I've written extensively about these experiences in my books and articles, and also created a DVD titled Drawing Circles.

What hobbies do you enjoy when you're not teaching or writing? 

Photography!  I created a range of studies of bicycles in every possible context in my global travels and have enjoyed exhibiting them. This  actually started as a fun project I could share with my students to encourage cycling, and evolved into an obsession. I cycle daily!! I am also passionate about gardening and created a cacti jungle in my north Austin home. My other hobbies include watching movies and reading an eclectic range of books. I also have fun writing a column  titled "Pedaling around with Pam" for our North Austin  community newsletter.

Topics: continuing education, asian bodywork therapy, acupuncture, aoma, tcm education, ATX

Gemmotherapy: Q&A with Lauren Hubele

Posted by Nicole Fillion-Robin on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 @ 04:30 PM


Lauren Hubele

Lauren Hubele is a leading expert in Gemmotherapy in the United States today. She lives in San Marcos where she swims upstream in the river every morning, year round. She’s also a vegan and passionate cook who believes in giving people the tools they need. Besides doing research, writing and lecturing about Gemmotherapy, she also has a plant-based recipe blog on her website. 

Lauren, you’ll have to excuse me, as my background with herbs is primary through the lens of Chinese Medicine - can you tell me about how where Gemmotherapy  fits into the world of herbal treatment? 

Gemmotherapy is different from TCM herbs or any North American herbal product because it uses the meristem cells of the plant. The plants are processed at their freshest state (within 3 hours of picking). It is because of the presence of meristem cells in the bud or root or shoot of the tree of shrub that is used that makes it unique. The meristem cells are what allow  for the incredible rejuvenating process that can be obtained with Gemmotherapy extracts. 

Regarding the history and training behind Gemmotherapy - how do you get trained in it? Is it through taking seminars through someone who is involved in this kind of work? 

Today there are only a handful of key teachers for Gemmotherapy around the world. Each of us shares Gemmotherapy extracts through our own lens of understanding. There is a brilliant professor in Italy, another in producer and key researcher Belgium, several professors, pharmacists, and physicians who teach in Romania, another in Canada and then there are three of us teaching in the United States. We each have our own unique approach. 

The majority of published materials and teachings on Gemmotherapy extracts presents them through in an allopathic view. Extracts are presented by the organs and organ systems affected  and the symptoms or diagnosis they were known to address. While this is helpful information it doesn’t provide a path in which to apply the extracts. Because this was all that was available when I began to study Gemmotherapy that is how I learned the extracts.  However, when I began to apply them in my practice with real patients, I discovered this method really fell short. 

Through a lot of trial and error in my own practice and hundreds of cases, a system started to form itself. I worked with the top research doctors in Romania and Italy, where I would say “I’m really seeing european blueberry acting like this, would you see if what I’m seeing is backed up pharmacologically?” And they would come back with “well not really, maybe what you’re seeing is this [aspect of the herb]”. And so in that I was able to create my own system and that’s what I teach today. 

I’m currently exploring micro-dosing extracts now, something brand new. Instead of the pharmacological suggested dose of 25 drops, only one or two is taken that engage with the nervous system. I’m working with Dr. Olah Nelly, a professor of pharmacology and biochemist in Romania. She’s the director of research for the Plant Extrakt Gemmotherapy lab and supervising my first blind study.  These are exciting times in the study of Gemmotherapy and taking a class with me is not just going to be about studying the materia medica. 

It seems like something that is old, viewed differently now in a modern lens. 

I think I would come back to what you just said and I would say it is actually an older medicine which was being looked at a modern allopathic way and I am taking it back to its roots and of looking at the body holistically. Unless we go there and look at how the body heals, we get partial results. I’m looking at bringing harmony back to the body, so that the beautiful immune system we’re born with is activated and can do its work. 

 Looking at your bio, I learned that you came to this medicine from a patient’s standpoint when you were diagnosed with cancer and were introduced to it by a ND while in Germany. Can you tell me a little about how they use this in Europe and if it’s used more there than here for now? 

In Europe Gemmotherapy it can only be used by licensed medical professionals. They could be physicians, osteopaths, midwives, acupuncturists, or other licensed in the medical field. 

Gemmotherapy is definitely used more in Europe, but it is limited to certain regional areas. For instance, it’s not really used or known in Germany. In Germany they haven’t really figured out how they want to classify it, so it’s just in the no-man's land right now. It seemed natural to me that it would take off in Germany, but instead there are countries like the Ukraine and Bulgaria excited about Gemmotherapy, with no easy access to the extracts.  

How many extracts are currently available? 

Right now, there are a good 60 that are standardized and commonly available. You could stretch that number to 75 if you are looking at some of the newer ones being studied. When I teach my foundations program, I teach 26 entry level extracts. That is more than enough to treat a wide variety of acute conditions as well as begin treating chronic care cases. 

Who is the person or organization experimenting with these newer plants?  

Dr. Fernando Pitera of Italy is considered the grandfather of Gemmotherapy. He is a homeopath, internal medicine doctor and herbalist and author of the only pharmacopeia of Gemmotherapy that exists (Gemmoterapia - published in Italian and French). Dr. Pitera is constantly reviewing other extracts and plants and has dedicated his life to this. 

There’s also Philippe Andrianne, who is conducting his own research. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these gentlemen personally.  We have a great deal of mutual respect for one another. Even though our work and approaches are very different.

That’s kind of the nice thing, with a group so small, it’s so easy to stay connected and have some real conversations and support each other. 

Yes! I love that. Is it a newer medicine. I love batting around ideas. This only hit the pharmacopeia in the late 1950s. When we look at medicines and therapies that’s very new. It is quite insular because all the writings were in French - that really slowed down the process. My books are the first coming out in English. 

Can I ask how you work with clients differently than a homeopath or TCM herbalist might? 

When you look at allopathy, it’s the study of symptoms as opposed to the whole. Homeopaths are trained to cure the whole, but my experience as a homeopath is that it doesn’t manage to cure the whole. 

When I work with a client, I will enter with a similar approach whether you’re coming to see me for fertility or a ruptured disk. Your body heals in the same order; whatever the problem is, we’ll start in the same place, but what follows will vary. There are no set protocols (like in homeopathy). 

In TCM just as with gemmotherapy, you also are not looking at any set of protocols. If you’re looking at high blood pressure, you’re looking to treat the root of that pathology. Gemmotherapy is an absolutely beautiful complement therapy for acupuncturists, because it aligns with TCM way of treating patients with herbs. I use TCM consistently when classifying the extracts and when looking at the organ clock to plan treatment timing. I’ve worked with a lot of acupuncturists, and we’re helped inform each others work. 

How are patients finding out about this? How do most patients come to you? 

You know what? People are now searching gemmotherapy. It’s actually becoming a thing. Seven years ago, totally not true. Even three years ago, people would find me because a friend referred them but knew nothing about it. But now people are literally searching and I get emails from around the world daily with questions. 

What does your practice look like these days? 

My practice is actually the smallest part of my work today because I do so much traveling, teaching and writing (generally one book a year). I give talks for health advocacy. What I call my practice now is health coaching. It’s my goal that you become so self sufficient that you only come see me when you can’t figure it out yourself. 

I love that!

My goal is very different than when I started as a practitioner where I was the “expert” and people would come to me and if it didn’t work they would come back. Energetically, that felt uncomfortable to me. I later trained in coaching skills and learned how to give that responsibility back to my client. We collaborate on their health decisions. I am the topic expert, but they are their body’s expert. The only way to succeed is to work together. I train practitioners in all different fields to use that approach. The other is simply not serving people who feel powerless over their health and often leaves both practitioners and clients frustrated. 

I feel like many patients intuitively know what is at the root of their health concerns, so I am so glad that you collaborate with them to find solutions! 

Awareness is step one, the next steps forward require something of great interest to me. Currently I’m researching this field of emotional immunity, and how building up our emotional immunity makes us stronger and more capable of making those lifestyle choices needed for full healing. 

When we’re in this victim mode, we’re not going to GIVE UP CHEESE. That might be the one pleasure we have in life! When we build in this space, and have the capacity to have more perspective it gives us the opportunity to make important  lifestyle decisions. This is one of the most powerful changes in my practice I’ve made over the years, and a large part of what I will be teaching at AOMA. Teaching how to help our clients this way is almost as powerful as teaching gemmotherapy. 

As a practitioner, do you consult with anyone when you’re stuck in treating yourself? 

I have a long time acupuncturist, AOMA graduate, who is my acupuncturist in Austin and also a dear friend who studied gemmotherapy with me. My homeopath is in Boston whom I also consult with when I get stuck. She grew up in Kolkata with her father who was a homeopathic physician. In my opinion she has one of the greatest homeopathic minds in the U.S. 

 Right now, herbs in general are not regulated in the States, what are the differences you see in Europe? 

Let’s put it this way: I buy my product from Europe because it’s regulated. There are a few producers in the US who are making small batches. I’m not comfortable with purchasing from them yet, because they are not regulated here. I’m not a big government person by any means. But the EU and its ability to make agencies uphold the pharmacopoeia and how gemmotherapy is meant to be prepared is so important. 

 Is there anything else you’d like to leave readers to know about you that I haven’t already asked? 

It’s important for people to know what my passions are. For anyone taking this class, it’s an opportunity to come out as a better practitioner, not just to gain a new tool. I will challenge the way people look at the human body, even in a TCM perspective by looking at the layers and how they should heal. 

My personal passions are empowering mothers all over the world. I’ve started international gemmo-mom groups. These  are groups of mothers teaching mothers how to use these extracts acutely so they can treat their children in the middle of the night. This is such a safe, gentle-acting extract that it’s simple. It’s not like learning thousands of herbs or thousands of homeopathic remedies. It’s a real passion of mine as well as my developing research on  emotional immunity and gemmotherapy. 


Thank you so much for your time, Lauren! Readers - if you are interested in learning more about Lauren and her work, feel free to check out her website, Facebook, instagram and upcoming class (TX Acupuncturists will receive 8 Biomedical and 8 Herbal CEUs). 


Topics: herbal medicine, herbal studies, continuing education

Three Reasons to Attend this year’s Integrative Healthcare Symposium

Posted by Rob Davidson on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 @ 04:16 PM

Southwest Symposium Austin

As acupuncturists, we often work solo; one-on-one with patients. However, continuing to learn and expand our knowledge and our practice is a big part of our career. Many Continuing Education courses for acupuncturists can be fulfilled online, however, there’s something intangible that might be missed in those trainings. Attending an integrative healthcare conference such as the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas will not only bring you the knowledge and learning, but also the immersive experience. This includes valuable interpersonal connections with speakers, classmates, and new friends who you will be able to talk with at length if you so choose.

Here - we’ll highlight the top 3 reasons to make the trek to Austin, TX this May and attend the Southwest Symposium. This year’s theme, “the spirit and science of integrative medicine” touches on the fact that it’s not only knowledge, but spirit and connection with our patients that makes our medicine so powerful.

1. New Connections

Meet other like-minded individuals in the field and make connections for support and continued learning. Being able to lean on colleagues who share similar challenges is a priceless resource and win-win situation. Take advantage! Make new friends and discover your similarities and differences. As an acupuncturist, part of your job is to band together and build community to strengthen the field.

The Southwest Symposium is also a great chance to meet other health professionals with differing opinions or ways of treating to further knowledge of other modalities. The Symposium this year features panels from integrative practitioners, naturopathic doctors, nurses and acupuncturists. In this melting pot of ideas, there’s plenty of options to expand your horizons and explore new treatment options for your patients. You’ll have first-hand contact with our amazing lineup of speakers, so you’ll be able to pick their brain after a session or establish an opportunity to stay in touch.

Connect with our vendors! Come meet some of the world’s leading herbal and needle manufacturers, as well as many other companies that sell Chinese medicine books, accessories, and more! We’ve also got several acupuncture and oriental medicine professional associations hosting booths, so you’ll have a chance to hear about all the latest developments in the field!

2. Reconnect

Remember all those buddies you spent countless hours studying with in acupuncture school? Chances are they may be attending the Symposium. The Southwest Symposium is one of the best ways to interact, socialize, and catch up with classmates and professors outside of the classroom. Meet up between sessions to digest all the new learning. Sit in on lectures with your professors and even join them for lunch! Or best of all, attend the evening dinner and celebration at the end of the conference; complete with great food, music, and a photo booth.

3. Enjoy Austin

Lucky for you, Austin is a fun place to hang out. Austin is a thriving city that was voted best city to move to in 2016. The city is ever expanding and changing but is rich with culture and has some must-see places!

Austin nightlife is the perfect backdrop to kick back, soak in all that you learned during the day, and have some fun with your colleagues! Austin’s live music, eclectic restaurant scene and live music spots will set the stage for a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in Texas. Be sure to check out the Pecan Street Festival downtown, or maybe grab dinner and a drink on South Congress Avenue. Whatever extracurricular activities you decide on, we hope your Symposium experience is memorable, and that you have plenty of takeaways to bring back to your practice and patients.

We look forward to seeing you in May. Be sure to register now!

Register Now!

Topics: continuing education, acupuncture

Rosy CE's: Continuing Education for Acupuncturists

Posted by Cara Edmond on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 @ 10:00 AM

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
Alphonse Karr,


There are many burdens that acupuncturists face. Not the least of which is trying to run a business on top of being a healer. Add to that maintaining a license, and continuing education units can feel like just one more burden on the back of an already stressed healer. And truthfully, from one licensed provider to another, I get it. I’ve been in courses that were supposed to be educational, supposed to be inspiring, supposed to contribute to my clinical practice—yet they felt as flat and limpid as the wilted romaine lettuce they served.

Let’s carve out a little space to talk about online continuing education courses. Have I done them? Yes. Will I do more? Yes – probably at 2 in the morning before I send in my renewal. Do I feel like they contribute to my clinical practice or inspire me? No, I don’t. I usually skip to the end and just take the quiz.

While we could rightfully argue that my bad experiences in continuing education are just that, mine—I think there are some common elements. If you, the practitioner, are going to close your clinic taking time and money AND take time from your friends and family, you want to know that you’re going to get something for your sacrifice. You want to know that the course you attend, be it online or in person, will give you clinical skills. You want to know that you’ll make business contacts, friends, and that you’ll leave renewed.

Granted, as director of Continuing Education at AOMA, I can’t promise you those things. What I can promise is that I strive for them. Each time we plan a continuing education event at AOMA I keep you, the practitioner, in mind. And our instructors want you to leave the course with concrete skills and improvements, they really and truly do.

For me, the reason I continue to plan continuing education events (sometimes I think the stress is going to short-circuit my limbic system) is because I feel strongly that acupuncturists need a community. I feel that you all need a place to come and be assured that you are going to be given high-quality education and a chance to make high-quality contacts. That is my intention.

The second piece of that goal, the high-quality contacts, rests with our community. I build the Field of Dreams each time I build a course. Seriously. I review course evaluations, review literature, and review instructors to try and find that magic mix of content that is going to be interesting to you all and fulfill your ethics, herbs and biomedicine hours. What really helps me is two things: First, tell me! Email me and tell me what you want to study. I am listening. That’s why we had Jeffery Dann and Dr. Wu at the Southwest Symposium this year. Because my community asked. That’s why I had the course credit breakdowns listed outside of the classrooms at the Southwest Symposium this year. Because y’all asked. I live to serve. Email me and point me in the right direction. Second, attend. Attend but really, ATTEND. Bring your all. Bring your questions, your passion, your enthusiasm. Show up and be ready to connect and engage. I can build the space, but you all bring the heart and enthusiasm.

As a community, both on my side and on yours, we can choose to see our continuing education requirements as a burden to be dealt with online at 2 AM, or we can see it as a chance to explore our profession and the people toiling in the trenches alongside us. I choose the latter. I choose to see your continuing education requirements as an opportunity--an opportunity not to be squandered, but rather, cherished; cherished and claimed on your taxes.

If you’re not ready financially to make the leap into attending a continuing education course, feel free to drop me a line anyways and let me know what your dream course would be. Would it be on a Saturday and Sunday? Four consecutive Thursdays from 6-8? Looking at Tunia? Looking at herbs?

In the meantime, I’m working to finalize our fall offerings. I’m looking forward to seeing y’all on the AOMA campus. Your energy always lingers and I love it.



Learn more about Southwest Symposium

Topics: acupuncture school, continuing education

The Spirit of Coming Together: How the 2015 Southwest Symposium Changed My Mind About CEUs

Posted by Lauren St. Pierre, LAc on Wed, Jun 03, 2015 @ 04:11 PM


I'm both anxious and excited. It's like going back to summer camp—I'm not sure if my friends from last year will be there, if the camp counselors will be nice, if the lunch lady will be serving mystery meat.  I've been out of acupuncture school for less than a year, and while part of me is still trying to recover and adjust to working, another part of me is beginning to stir again—the student inside. It seems that in our profession, despite all different backgrounds, educations, specialties and interests, we have that in common. We love to learn! 

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine are a lifelong study. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn. I've had to remind myself that it will take time and I have a good solid base to build on. The beauty of this reality is that we will just keep getting better—that's the plan at least. It can be incredibly easy to find a pattern, a groove, a needle combo that does the trick. Why mess with it if it works? What I found was the Southwest Symposium in Austin, TX was more than just a way to get continuing education units, it was a way to get excited about the medicine again, to collaborate with like and different minds, to see old friends and meet face-to-face with people, who up until now, had been a tiny picture on Facebook.

So I dusted off my notebook, gathered some pens and checked my expectations at the door. I was thrilled to see familiar faces and meet people I'd only know by name and reputation. What an incredible experience to be in this space that is buzzing with the collective qi of students and practitioners. In private practice I find that we can become a bit isolated. The graduate school environment is so unique—bouncing ideas off of one another, learning from each other's successes and mistakes. Then, for many, we go into practice either alone or with people of different disciplines and the collaboration shifts, for it is mainly our own successes and failures we learn from and online social networking we lean on.

Vendors lined the exhibition hall of the Symposium – wall to wall with herbs, needles and gadgets galore. People would break off into little groups, catching up with old friends and making new connections. There was a lot of talk about the need to invest in our medicine, and come together to help protect our scope of practice, safety issues with unregulated needling practices and how to get involved. And this was all outside of the lectures!

There is something so reaffirming and supportive about hearing groups of people chatting about harmonizing the Ying and Wei over coffee and mixed nuts. Or knowing exactly what someone is saying when they say they felt that the esoteric Heart Shaoyin pattern changed their practice. Where else could you say, “I really love this herbal decoction for phlegm misting the mind, it really opens the orifices” without vacant, slightly horrified stares. We're not always on the same page, but we're at least using the same book.

The speakers of course were fantastic and covered a broad range of topics and modalities. You could really choose your area of interest—needling, herbs, qi gong, tuina or some combination. So much to choose from, esoteric, Japanese or Nei Jing style for your needling curiosity, with epigenetics, hormesis and aging, with some facial diagnosis in between. Regulating cycles, treating pregnancy and pediatric tuina if that suited your practice's focus. If phlegm gets you stuck, there was an herbal course for that. There was even a way to get those ethics CEUs covered.

So while it's very convenient to sit in front of our computers and get those needed CEUs, I'm starting a personal practice of attending the Southwest Symposium as a way to stay connected. Connected to my community, to my medicine, to my inner student.

2015 Southwest Symposium speakers (in alphabetical order):

  • Paul Anderson, ND,
  • Jason Blalack, MS, LAc
  • Mary Bove, ND, AHG
  • Lillian Bridges
  • Jeffrey Dann, PhD, LAc
  • John Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc
  • Holly Guzman, LAc
  • Peter D. Lichtenstein, D.C., LAc
  • Edward Neal, MD
  • Stanley Reiser, MD, MPA, PhD
  • Mikio Sankey, PhD, LAc
  • Constance Scharff, PhD
  • David Twicken, DOM, LAc
  • Qianzhi ("Jamie") Wu, PhD, LAc
  • Janet Zand, OMD, LAc


Learn more about Southwest Symposium


About Lauren St. Pierre, MAcOM, L.Ac.

A graduate of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Lauren is in solo private practice with Earthspring Acupuncture, PLLC as well as Texas Center for Reproductive Acupuncture. She is also working with AOMA as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in both clinical and didactic courses while continuing to work with The American Cancer Society.  Lauren has lived in Austin since 2006 by way of Lake Tahoe, California. She counts Austin as her home with her husband and two Boston terriers.

Topics: Austin, continuing education, southwest symposium

Neoclassical Pulse Diagnosis Built My Confidence and Patient Outcomes

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 09:43 AM

At a recent gathering, a friend mentioned having knee pain. I quickly assessed it using neoclassical pulse diagnosis techniques and by palpating the location of the pain. Afterward, I found and applied four acupressure points with press-on seeds. As a result his knee felt much better throughout the party and the following days.

By using neoclassical pulse diagnosis in a clinical setting (meaning with further investigation and time), I am able to confidently provide my patients with efficient care for myriad health concerns, including pain, pyscho-social issues, insomnia, energy loss, hormonal imbalances, and digestive issues.

Having success in the clinic is a result of applying the techniques taught in Dr. William Morris’ neoclassical pulse series and training with him as an intern in his clinical rotations.

In Will Morris’ neoclassical pulse courses I learned how to assess a patient’s radial pulses as a diagnostic tool and immediate feedback loop. This feedback loop is invaluable in creating confidence in the practitioner, treating quickly and effectively while obtaining great clinical outcomes, and in maintaining my own health. Successfully using neoclassical-style pulse diagnostics created confidence in me as a practitioner.

neoclassical pulse series, will morris, continuing acupuncture education

During my treatments on patients I am able to monitor my patient’s pulse as it changes. As my patient’s pulse becomes more balanced and level, I know I have chosen a good course of treatment.

Neoclassical pulse diagnosis is also a great tool for assessing and treating on the go, because you can quickly evaluate the pulse, apply a few acupressure seeds, and still get great results. Learning to use the pulse as a feedback loop in clinical settings creates high-quality, efficient patient care.

Yet it isn’t just for patients. In fact, I find myself evaluating my pulse and applying indicated acupressure points.  This daily self-care ritual takes seconds and is a great way to stay healthy, emotionally balanced, and pain free.  

I am honored to have trained with Dr. Morris, and will continue to attend his classes and online teachings, as he provides invaluable insight into the world of patient-centered care. I highly recommend his neoclassical pulse series to all students interested in expanding their acupuncture and diagnostic repertoire.

anne cusick, neoclassical pulse diagnosisAnne Cusick LAc, MAcOM graduated from AOMA in 2008 and is in current practice with Dr. Clark-Brown at a family care integrated clinic, specializing in pain management.




continuing acupuncture education, integrative health CE

Topics: alumni, Dr. William Morris, continuing education, pulse diagnosis

The Practice of Neoclassical Pulse Diagnosis with Will Morris

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, May 21, 2014 @ 01:40 PM

As a teacher and practitioner of Chinese medicine well into my second professional decade, I have felt for a long time that some of the most important areas of study in our medicine have received the least attention. This discrepancy is probably most relevant in the area of pulse diagnosis—and with good reason. Pulse reading can be an extremely subtle art, and there seem to be multiple ways of interpreting the same pulse. Add to that the fact that teaching the pulse is, at least in part, a transcription of our concrete sense of touch into an abstract verbal interpretation. The resulting confusion is nearly always daunting for the student and professional alike, and we wind up falling back on the not-so-subtle aspects of the pulse, limiting our data-gathering to a narrow number of simple distinctions like excess vs. deficiency. And though these distinctions are useful, if they were the only data we had to form our diagnoses, our treatments would be lacking.

When it comes to pulses, theory alone can never suffice. If you go to apply what you’ve learned and your finger position is a little off or if your finger pressure is too heavy or too light, you are not going to pick up the right information from the pulse. Having taught his system for many years, Dr. Will Morris understands that when teaching the art of diagnostic, lecture cannot be the only mode of teaching. There is a great deal of hands-on practice in these classes: from basic calibration of pressure, to correction of finger positions, to insights for practitioner comfort, and, of course, comparing pulses around the room. Dr. Morris and trained assistants are right there with you while you are feeling pulses in the class, available for checking your findings against theirs and offering further explanation relevant to the pulse you are feeling at the moment.

neoclassical pulse series, will morris, continuing acupuncture education

I bet most of us have a sense that if we could only improve our pulse diagnosis technique, clinical effectiveness would improve accordingly. Well, of course we are absolutely right in thinking so. But how do we improve our pulse diagnostic skills? One of the keys, I learned from Dr. Morris, is that we need to approach each pulse with the right framing tools. The pulse diagnostic we use to create an herbal prescription might be a different system than what we use for an acupuncture strategy. Furthermore, the pulse system we use to determine which channels are most affected by a soft-tissue injury may be different from the way we approach the pulse if someone comes to us with insomnia or shen disturbance. If Dr. Morris had contributed nothing else, his tools for filtering through the multilayers of informational “noise”in the pulse to help us home in on what is relevant in this context for this patient in this visit would have been a valuable contribution to our field. As it is, he has actually contributed a great deal more than that.

In this series of pulse classes taught by Dr. Morris, the participant learns many distinctions in the pulse that can be applied immediately in clinic; others need more time to master. One of the “extras” in the class is that Dr. Morris is liberal with sharing a multitude of clinical insights. Not only does he cover a variety of pulse techniques in depth, but he shares treatment strategies and ways to think about treatment strategies that correspond to the pulse diagnostic technique being taught at the time. Because you walk away from these classes with new, clear, diagnostic skills, new treatment strategies, and clarity for how and when to apply the new material, your practice benefits immediately. As you study and use the material from Dr. Morris’ pulse classes over time, your connection with the medicine deepens while your confidence and effectiveness as a practitioner solidify.

John Heuertz, DOM has been practicing Chinese medicine since 2001. He is nationally certified as both an acupuncturist and a Chinese herbalist practicing in New Mexico. Dr. Heuertz publishes and lectures extensively to colleagues in the Chinese medical field.


continuing acupuncture education, integrative health CE

Topics: Dr. William Morris, continuing education, pulse diagnosis

Don't Miss the Doctoral Program Booth at Southwest Symposium!

Posted by Justine Meccio on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 @ 10:40 AM

DAOM Booth Southwest Symposium SWSEach year, AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine sponsors the Southwest Symposium (SWS) - a premier, 3-day continuing education and integrative medicine conference. The event brings together practitioners, educators, and other health care professionals from the fields of acupuncture & Chinese medicine, massage therapy, and naturopathic medicine.

Visit Our Booth:

AOMA's admissions office staff will be on-site at SWS to provide information and answer questions about the Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (DAOM) program.

Be sure to visit us at booth # 20 to meet Dr. John Finnell, DAOM Program Director, and enter a drawing to win a free gift!

About the DAOM Program:

The Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program is a transformative educational experience that prepares master's-level practitioners to become leaders in the care and management of patients with pain and its associated psychosocial phenomena. This rigorous program will challenge you to develop advanced clinical techniques, strong academic research skills, and to cultivate professional leadership abilities.

About the event:

Southwest Symposium 2014: The Heart of the Medicine
February 14-16, 2014
Austin, TX


DAOM Learn More

Topics: acupuncture school, doctoral program, DAOM, Dr. John Finnell, continuing education, southwest symposium, SWS

Nurses Expand Practice through Traditional Chinese Medicine Courses

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 03:30 PM

Many nurses have the desire to practice alternative medicine in an autonomous setting, but feel limited by traditional healthcare systems. More importantly, they want patients to have access to all treatment options possible for their condition.

Integrative medicine

Nurses are respected in their field, and have the potential to integrate eastern and western medicine in clinics and hospitals. RNs who have taken Chinese medicine courses benefit by creating new potential career paths for themselves, enriching their professional lives through the practice of Western or Chinese medicine or an integration of the two.

Casey Romero is a registered nurse and a graduate student at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. Romero’s original goal was to attend a graduate-level nursing program, but a visit to Austin in 2008 changed her education path.

On a visit to AOMA with her grandmother, who was receiving acupuncture in AOMA’s clinic, Romero was amazed to discover that there was actually a place to take Chinese medicine courses and at the same time apply the knowledge to her nursing practice. By the end of her grandmother’s acupuncture treatment that day, she found herself in the admissions office.

“I knew at that moment that I really wanted to be a part of the integration of Western and Chinese medicine,” said Romero.

Quality care for patients

chinese medicine coursesCombining prior nursing education with Chinese medicine courses like those in the master’s degree program at AOMA gives nurses a unique skillset that can immediately translate into better care for their patients.

Patients benefit when their nurses have taken courses in Chinese medicine because it gives nurses additional tools and understanding of physical conditions and ailments, and alternatives for treatment.

Romero says, “Having a solid knowledge base on pharmaceuticals, I believe I will have an advantage when it comes to understanding herb/drug interactions and patient safety. Physical assessments of patients are also important, and as a nurse, I have that experience already.”

Professional autonomyherbal medicine program

A career in acupuncture and Chinese medicine provides nurses the opportunity to work as independent health care providers. AOMA graduates are working in private practice, multidisciplinary clinics, hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, hospice, oncology centers, community acupuncture clinics, military/veterans facilities, sports teams, and corporate wellness programs.


The entry-level standard to become a licensed acupuncturist is a master’s degree in acupuncture & Oriental medicine. In addition to coursework in acupuncture, herbal medicine, and extensive clinical education, the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) requires graduate programs to include biomedical science as part of the curriculum.

In general, western medical professionals like nurses, medical doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors are often able to transfer many courses completed as part of their medical degree programs towards a master’s degree in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. While transferring in such coursework may not necessarily shorten the duration of a degree program, it can lighten a student’s overall credit hour load, allowing students to devote more study-time to their Chinese medicine courses and to work part-time while in school. Being able to transfer-in previous biomedical science courses can also potentially reduce the cost of a degree program.

Download Free Guide to a Career in  Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Topics: job opportunities, acupuncture school, continuing education, nurses

Stay in touch

Get our blog in your inbox!

Subscribe below to receive instant, weekly, or monthly blog updates directly to your email inbox.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all