AOMA Blog

Why I Want to Become an Acupuncturist?

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 09:54 AM

AOMA has a rich student body with diverse backgrounds and interests. We wanted to find out why our learners chose AOMA's Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (MAcOM) program  and more importantly what drew them to become an acupuncturist. Here are their stories in their own words!

acupuncture student Christina KorpikChristina Korpik, Class of 2015

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I want to be an acupuncturist because I am a firm believer in the magic and supremacy of natural medicine’s capacities to treat health imbalances and disease, as well as provide preventive care. Acupuncture helped to transform my own life and health when I was suffering, whereas Western medicine only worsened my conditions. I am fascinated specifically by acupuncture’s ability to trigger homeostasis and instill positive physical change in the body and one’s state of mind, as well as instantly boost an individual’s level of peacefulness with minimal to no side effects. I wanted to become a part of this magical treatment modality and art form that effortlessly taps into the body’s energetic and physical makeup in such a profound way, all the while using the elements of nature systematically as a guide in ways which reinforce the inherent connectedness of all things.

I deeply resonate with the belief that our emotional and spiritual makeup always directly impacts our current state of health and wellbeing, or lack thereof, at any given moment. One of the powers of Chinese medicine as a healthcare modality is its synergy – its ability to combine and use a great variety of diagnostic and treatment tools and modalities in order to treat the totality of a patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, societal, and mental health. Western medicine does not have this ability or power. I believe there is a need for “TRUE” multi-faceted healthcare providers in this country who are capable of offering patients care on these levels, all the while treating them as PEOPLE with diverse needs and circumstances, as opposed to simply another case of (fill in the blank) to toss pharmaceutical drugs or invasive procedures at.

Why did you choose AOMA?

For years leading up to my decision to become a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I had been hearing stories from trusted friends and colleagues of AOMA’s overall prestige and excellence. I had heard countless beautiful accounts of the experienced, talented, and professional staff, practitioners, and professors at AOMA, as well as the incredible and unique student body. One thing that stuck out was constantly hearing of how dedicated EVERYONE – staff and students alike – in the AOMA community was to truly being a reliable and high-quality source of compassion and healing for the greater community.

If I hadn’t already been sold by the reputation of the school and the knowledge of its premier and famous herbal program, I was quickly convinced of the necessity of my attending the graduate program when I realized that the Chinese medicine practitioners who had personally salvaged my own health after many years of unsuccessful treatment from Western medicine had both graduated from AOMA.

diana slivinski acupuncture studentDiana Slivinski, Class of 2014

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?
                           
A year in Taiwan studying Mandarin Chinese began my path of Asian studies.  My first visit to an acupuncturist, a Buddhist monk, left me feeling wonderful…..in body, mind, and spirit.  I loved the well-rounded approach to maintaining health and well-being.  The study of acupuncture and oriental medicine is proving to me that I have chosen the right path.

Why AOMA?

I chose AOMA after looking into several schools because their class schedule and offerings seemed well thought out and organized.  The teaching staff at AOMA is a talented group of scholars from China and abroad.  AOMA offered me what I needed to pursue a new career.  

jessica johnson, future acupuncturistJessica Johnson, Class of 2017

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I am fully committed to what looks like will be three years of intense study, and already I can see that sometimes it is more difficult than it is fun to be a student of acupuncture. Anyone who enters the program knows that it is not always easy. But I will never stop trying to become an acupuncturist because I have seen how rewarding it is to help those who thought there was no help for them. I have been the person who thought I would always be sick, no matter how many medications I was on. Becoming an acupuncturist is not just a livelihood; it is a commitment to care, to love. Those of us who aspire to be acupuncturists realize that we can transform the lives of our patients, and we know that to be valued by those in your care is a true blessing.

Why did you choose AOMA?

Originally, I chose to enroll at AOMA because I knew they had one of the best programs to become an acupuncturist. I knew that they were committed to ensuring a quality education for their students. However, I came to find that AOMA is not just a school. The people you come to know – students, faculty, and teachers – they become your family. They encourage you to ask questions. They support you. They take care of you to the best of their ability. I have found that within AOMA there are students and faculty alike who would help you with anything if you asked. I have only been at the school for a short time but I can already name so many people who I can honestly say have changed my life. Yes, I enrolled because I believe the school and program are the best in the State of Texas, but I stayed because of the people I have come to know here.

 

loubriel sosa, acupuncture studentLoubriel Sosa, Class of 2014

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

We walk through life exploring ourselves; each and every situation reveals a unique expression. As we grow, we assume responsibility over our destiny. Some search and search, and never find their calling. Being an acupuncturist fulfills me and nourishes my being. I want to be an acupuncturist because it calls to me. To experience the joys of healing and to perpetuate the art of love is my destiny.

Why did you choose AOMA?

At first I chose AOMA because of its reputation, but now that I've been a student of this wonderful institution for some time, I recognize that AOMA was the only road for me. It provided me with purpose and direction.

 

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abigail karp, licensed acupuncturistAbigail Karp, Class of 2013

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I want to become an acupuncturist because I was inspired by the amazing acupuncturists and herbalists in my life who helped me regain my own wellness after dealing with complications from Celiac disease. After volunteering at a local community acupuncture clinic, I saw how this gentle and peaceful way of healing was making such a huge improvement in the quality of life for many different kinds of people.

Why did you choose AOMA?

I chose AOMA because I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and the sense of community the school fosters among students and faculty. Austin is such a vibrant city, and I feel that AOMA is a vibrant acupuncture school! I appreciate the ways that it is changing and evolving to meet the needs of the students and patients it serves. 

 

michael callaghan, oriental medicine studentMichael Callaghan, Class of 2017

Why do you want to be an acupuncturist?

I really don’t want to be an acupuncturist – I want to be a practitioner of Oriental medicine, which includes acupuncture. My goal of becoming a practitioner of TCM is to give back to a community of people, the Armed Forces, who need an alternative to traditional Western medicine.  As a veteran, I experienced military medicine, which is normally focused at putting the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine back to work and not effectively treating the causes of the illness or injury. I believe that TCM offers an alternative to taking medications which cover the overall symptoms; instead, TCM treats the symptoms for long-term beneficial health gains. If I can help just a small percentage of the active, reserve, or formerly active-duty community by providing comprehensive care through the principles of TCM, I will have accomplished my goal.

Why did I choose AOMA?

While there are many choices, AOMA offers an integrative approach, which I believe is key to future success. AOMA has a great success rate academically, which it is reflected in the high percentage of its graduates who find employment immediately after completion of the program. Lastly, the staff and faculty of the school treat everyone as individuals and are supportive in assisting you to obtain your goals.

 

elizabeth arris, acupuncture studentElizabeth Arris, Class of 2015

Why do you want to be an acupunct

urist?

For so many reasons!  Being an acupuncturist is a career that offers many opportunities every day to support another person in feeling well. I enjoy holding space for patients to be mindful of their physical sensations and emotional experiences, which are so often ignored during busy lives. When patients share their pains, discomforts, and vulnerabilities with me, I feel honored to be a guardian of that information and am grateful for the chance to practice using the power of my position and education in a way that is appropriate, heart-centered, and helpful.  Perhaps most of all, I love being part of a health-conscious community of healers where my personal wellbeing is valued as much as my productivity.

Why did you choose AOMA?

I think a degree from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine (AOMA) keeps many doors open:  AOMA is regionally accredited, meaning their credits may transfer to other non-TCM schools (which is uncommon); and

AOMA grads have the option to apply for a California license (which is also uncommon for acupuncture schools outside of California). Additionally, AOMA is committed to continued development of the clinical training and biomedical components of its curriculum, providing students the tools necessary to feel comfortable in both integrative medicine environments and TCM environments. 

Over the past three years at AOMA, I have also grown to appreciate other aspects of the school, particularly the strength of the herbal program and the warmth of the Qigong community. As a lifelong dancer, my passion for movement evolved naturally into a love for the graceful, purposeful Sheng Zhen Qigong form featured at AOMA.  Although Sheng Zhen’s Master Li was not a primary factor in my choosing AOMA, I’ve come to view him as one of AOMA’s treasures and one of my anchors within the AOMA community.

 

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Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, masters program

DAOM Student Spotlight: Pamela Gregg Flax

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 01:53 PM

Pamela Gregg Flax   DAOMFor Pamela Gregg Flax, a New Mexico-based practitioner and student in AOMA’s new doctoral program, the efficacy and magic of Chinese medicine have never been a question. Chinese medicine has been her primary form of healthcare for 25 years -- but her decision to become a practitioner came as a surprise, even to her.

Early in her career, she worked in the arts and in environmental philanthropy in Los Angeles. Pamela moved to Santa Fe to marry the man who is now her husband and began learning a healing form called Sat Nam Rasayan (SNR). SNR is a meditative technique described as a traditional healing based on self-consciousness alone. This healing tradition is a ‘familiar’ to Craniosacral Therapy, but comes from the lineage of Kundalini yoga.

“I thought that my interest in SNR was to improve my meditation skills, but I discovered a love of healing,” Pamela says.

On a trip back to LA, Pamela told her acupuncturists that she wished she could do what they do. They encouraged her, and that was all it took—she was in school for her master’s degree in Chinese medicine a few weeks later. “The art of Chinese medicine still speaks to my core, as its subtle power and poetry continue to amaze, delight, and humble me,” she says.

Pamela DAOMPamela describes her path to AOMA as “intuitive and visceral.” After she completed her master’s degree program in New Mexico, she enrolled in two year-long continuing education programs. However, something wasn’t right about the decision.

“The plumbing started leaking in my office and home, and I could feel a weird tremor in my body, like I was jittery or resisting the force of a fast off-camber turn on my bicycle,” she says. “As soon as I accepted that I was headed in the wrong direction and withdrew from the classes, the tremor vanished and the leaks stopped. I was disappointed, but took heart in knowing that a strong current was moving me forward, albeit in an unknown direction.” 

Pamela doctor of oriental medicineA couple of months later, Pamela started studying pulse diagnosis with Dr. William Morris. When she asked him about AOMA’s new doctoral program, he said, “The first cohort starts on Wednesday. What do you want to know?” and she felt that moment of recognition, an inexorable pull of destiny, that the path of her life would now shift in an unexpected yet welcome way. She expects to graduate from AOMA’s doctoral program in 2015. Her initial research topic – How Chinese Medicine Can Intervene in Multigenerational Trauma – is changing her practice.

“I feel lucky to be at AOMA at this point in my career because it’s re-shaping me and my practice in the most unexpected ways. My query has led me to the field of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. Philosophically and practically I’m exploring the role that creativity plays in a vibrant life. I’m studying for the ABORM certification, connecting with Santa Fe birthing centers, and treating pregnant women. I love my work more than ever.” Pamela says. “And I love AOMA. It’s a strong institution with excellent resources: a ‘deep bench’ of teachers and fellow doctoral students, a stellar herbal pharmacy, and great leadership. Dr. Morris and Dr. Finnell have developed a DAOM program that has the potential to help move integrative medicine and medical inquiry forward with integrity, and I’m glad to be part of it.”

pamela bicycleOutside of AOMA, Pamela has a new practice at her own clinic, Full Well Acupuncture, which she spends a considerable amount of time cultivating. She’s not only a former competitive cyclist, Kundalini yoga teacher, and Qigong practitioner – she’s also an artist who especially loves visual arts, theatre/performance, architecture and design. Her husband is an actor and director who runs a theater company in Santa Fe, so Pam calls herself a “theater wife/widow.”

“We try to keep up with our old adobe house and resuscitate our land,” she says. “Now that I’m attending school in the land of music and everyone in Austin plays at least one instrument, I’m trying learning to play a recorder. I’m kind of terrible but having fun, and I’m getting ready to order a Chinese flute called the bawu.”

One of Pamela’s proudest achievements since she started studying Chinese medicine is making a believer out of her husband.

“He hates receiving acupuncture but insisted that I treat his last good knee after he tore his meniscus,” Pamela says. “He feels that the treatments helped heal his knee and prevented imminent surgery, and I’m thrilled to report that he is finally able to relax when he has acupuncture.”

Pamela is also very pleased to have helped a woman with a high-risk pregnancy go full term and have a healthy baby. She also enjoyed helping people avoid joint replacement surgeries and lumbar fusions, arrest the development of macular degeneration and begin a reversal process, heal or manage a new life with traumatic brain injuries, and feel some peace in transforming old emotional pain.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some challenges along her path.

Pamela and her mentor thought that they would go into practice after she graduated from her master’s degree program, but after visiting China, Pam felt moved to practice differently and knew that their paths would diverge. Telling him was painful for both of them, but – “acquiescing to truth is liberating,” she says. “I had to trust my instincts.”

Pamela loves the poetry and metaphor inherent in the theory of Chinese medicine and the way that the medicine seems to reveal more and more according to the depth of the practitioner. She is also deeply appreciative of “the focus on continual cultivation of the human spirit of the practitioner and the patient; and its simultaneous complexity and simplicity.”

“Years ago I vowed to live my life out of love and not fear,” Pamela says. ”I love this medicine. Thank you to everyone at AOMA for moving so dynamically and with such kindness to join my river with yours.”

Her advice to other students?

“Enjoy the journey. Trust the medicine. Trust yourself.”

 

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Topics: student spotlight, transformation, doctoral program, DAOM

Archetypal Liberal Arts Major Goes Rogue, Studies Acupuncture

Posted by Justine Meccio on Mon, Mar 03, 2014 @ 01:10 PM

First, I’ll tell you that 18 months ago I was established in a career while yearning to go back to school, expand my life practices, and further devote myself to meaningful professional change. Now, a current student at AOMA, I just finished my 5th term.  At no point have I looked back, although I never would have predicted my life would take this path. In 2002, I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English that included extensive studies in calculus and Flemish art history. I felt like the prototype of liberal arts major, qualified for everything in general but nothing in particular—or so I told myself.

When I first thought about studying Traditional Chinese Medicine

It was 9 years ago when I first thought about studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. The thought lasted about 5 minutes, extinguished when I recalled that my science background consisted of contrasting types of volcanoes in my undergraduate geology class. I was intimidated by the natural science component included in acupuncture & Chinese medicine programs. My extensive knowledge of Renaissance poetry, for all its complexity, would not help me differentiate tendons in the wrist. My essays on the ethics of historical scholarship would not equip me to understand how a virus invaded the body. And somehow enrolling in the local community college at night to get my science prerequisites just to apply to a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) program seemed too daunting. At the time, it simply wouldn’t fit into my life, so I gave up hopes of being an acupuncturist.

For the next decade my career progressed in education business management and then teaching special education in public schools. While in these positions, I truly felt that I helped heal children as I taught. No matter what I did, I was a healer at heart. The nagging thought of practicing TCM returned. Finally, I visited AOMA’s website.

That’s when I realized that everything I believed for those nine years was wrong.

Reviewing the admissions requirements for the Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program showed me I did qualify to apply despite my limited natural science background. I realized the graduate program included all of the western medicine courses I thought I would need to complete in advance.

After looking on the school’s website, I scheduled a tour of the campus and talked to some current students. Within a few days I realized that this was the real thing, and I could do it. In fact, the liberal arts major in me realized that I could make a darn fine TCM student.

Discovering the Human Body

The biomedical sciences curriculum at AOMA is delivered by experienced instructors who have insight into anatomy and pathology that is particularly relevant to an acupuncturist. Dr. Joel  Cone, who I met in my first week at AOMA, knew I needed encouragement and was very helpful.

My first term within the master’s program, I started taking anatomy and physiology. The biomedicine series continued and I took microbiology and pathophysiology. I spent a full year diving into the human body, the muscles, bones, organ systems, and microorganisms inside and outside of us. I began to walk around looking at everyone, imagining I could see the sinews and tendons underneath their skin moving in a choreographed dance as they walked. After that first year, I felt  as though  I had developed a magical power to see through skin to inspect everything on the inside.  When my throat and lungs got irritated in in the winter, I imagined the tissues trying to expel pathogens rather than thinking about getting sick. The human body came to life as an amazing machine, and I experienced it as a new piece of scientific art that I inhabited.

Integration

Don’t get me wrong, every acupuncture student and practitioner must be able to name the tendons in the wrist and understand how a virus invades the body—along with all the bones, muscles, blood constituents, and more. This biomedical background is essential to a Chinese medicine practitioner who must know how to communicate with and build a treatment plan for patients with biomedical diagnoses. However, TCM is made of the desire to heal as much as the knowledge of science. I’ve tried to put my finger on that “thing” that drew me to this field of study and practice. Sure, it was easy to say that I wanted to help people, that it gave me a sense of satisfaction to help those who are sick feel better. But there is also something else. I had previously studied literature and art and TCM fit into an amazing framework of culture and philosophy that I found exciting at an academic and personal level. My knowledge of this framework in a more abstract unscientific view helped me see TCM embedded as a cultural orientation that fit my spirit.

With my liberal arts background, I realized I simply and beautifully had even more to integrate into my journey as a healer.

Kate Wetzel ImageAbout Kate Wetzel:
Kate is a graduate student within AOMA’s Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program. Prior to beginning her studies in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine she completed a BA in English at Trinity University and worked as special education teacher for the Austin Independent School District.

 

 

 

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Topics: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, student spotlight, acupuncture school, transformation, curriculum, liberal arts

Acupuncture Student Spotlight: Isabelle Chen-Angliker

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Mon, Mar 03, 2014 @ 12:34 PM

acupuncture school studentIsabelle Chen-Angliker, a pediatrician from Switzerland, was never fully satisfied with the Western medical approach. She did not agree with the method of funneling patients into an increasingly sub-specialized medical system. She was concerned with the discrepancy of more sophisticated diagnostics vs. the lack of treatment options that are both minimally invasive and without significant side effects. 

Isabelle was always looking for more holistic and integrative healing modalities, but there was not much complementary training available in Switzerland at the time she went through medical school except for homeopathy and manual therapy: “Even chiropractors got their training in the U.S.,” she said.

When Isabelle moved to Austin in 2008, she began taking her daughter -- then just 18 months old -- to Heartsong Music, a music school located near AOMA’s former campus in north Austin. In this process she also began admiring AOMA next door and dreaming of studying Oriental medicine herself.  In 2009 she went through Hatha Yoga teacher training, which to her served as a “baby step” before entering the AOMA graduate program. In 2010 she began searching for alternative treatments for her young son with ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome, which inspired her to finally enroll in AOMA’s Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine program.

As Isabelle nears graduation, she has finally found a style of medicine that deeply resonates with her. What especially appeals to her about Chinese medicine’s integrative and holistic perspective on healing is its individualized treatment approach tailored to the needs of patients and its applications and modifications involving art and intuition. Isabelle loves that the practitioner-patient relationship in Chinese medicine is “a give and take rather than consumer or hierarchy oriented relationship” -- and gone are her concerns about the invasive treatments of Western medicine. Chinese medicine is all about “Doing NO harm, and providing an effective yet pleasant and relaxing treatment,” she said.

Through her path to becoming a practitioner of Chinese medicine, Isabelle has learned to make mistakes and be patient with herself -- that it’s okay to not be perfect. For Isabelle, these are important achievements in light of the courage it took for her to return to school after years in a different field of medicine. Through this process, she has overcome her fear of failure, while also conquering a language barrier and culture shock.

Outside of her busy career and studies, Isabelle leads a very full and happy life as mother of two children: Lenny, 11 years old and Celia, 6 1/2 years old. She spends her free time volunteering at her children’s school, taking them to music, piano and ballet lessons as well as on field trips to places such as Enchanted Rock and parks around the city. She also loves to swim, do yoga, craft, read, play music and dance, and hopes to one day mastermind an herbal and vegetable garden like her grandmother’s.

Some of Isabelle’s greatest achievements during her time at AOMA include reports from her returning patients’ about the improvement in their health issues and stress management; her own lifestyle changes and increase in mind-body awareness; and inspiring her patients to embark on their own journeys seeking health and happiness through her sharing of passions for healthy food, movement, and nature.

Of course, like any graduate student in a medical program, she has faced many challenges as well. These include scheduling conflicts with her two children and busy husband, performance anxiety, and learning to pace herself.

Isabelle has worked steadily to overcome these by planning ahead, constantly refining her organizational skills, and avoiding procrastination. She also cites the importance of reflecting and pausing, revisiting her original call to go back to school, and always striving to see the big picture. “Treating patients is rewarding, encouraging and my main motivator even when I feel stuck, drained, exhausted or overwhelmed,” she said.

When asked what advice she would give to other students, she had a lot of insight to share:

  • Get regular acupuncture treatments yourself -- even before starting the program

  • Plan well, practice plenty of self-care and take breaks to avoid burnout

  • Find balance and keep mind and body connected

  • Communicate concerns and challenges: Follow a “problem meets solution” strategy

  • Correspond with student peers and share ups and downs with friends and family.

And as for the most transformational experiences she has had since starting on the path of Chinese medicine? “Feeling the instant benefits of acupuncture on my own mind and body -- the powerful effect of the needles as well as immediate and long term benefits of Chinese herbs,” she said. “I love when patients give me that look of ‘What did you just do to me?’ or say ‘I feel so relaxed,’ ‘I feel so much better,’ ‘My pain is almost gone,’ or just give a big sigh of relief.”

 

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Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, transformation

Transformation: How I Became an Acupuncturist

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 03:49 PM

My journey began in 2009. Four years later, and I am just about wrapping up my experience at AOMA.  It has definitely been a long haul, and I have changed a lot along the way.  When I started the master of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program, I was only 23 years old.  I was frustrated about healthcare and the state of American medicine, and I had decided to take the first step along a path that would lead me to greater understanding of not just medicine, but the entire body-mind-spirt axis of the human condition.  Some aspects of my personal growth were not connected to AOMA, but just a natural progression I would have followed regardless of my education.  However, there were undoubtedly parts of my AOMA education that have changed me forever.

Holistic Theory

Part of the transformation has been simply learning alternative theories of the human form.  Trained as a molecular biologist, I had only been taught the materialistic theories of the body.  Organisms are made of organs, are made of tissues, are made of cells, are made of organelles, are made of macromolecules, are made of atoms, are made of quarks and subatomic particles.  These theories just dissect the physical body ad infinitum without any consideration that there might be more.  The energetic theories of yin and yang, of the meridians, and of the zang fu have perfectly complemented all my scientific knowledge.  Whether physical or energetic, I now have a way of analyzing whatever phenomenon appears.  Attempting to integrate the two types of theory is going to take a long time, but in the end the holistic theory that emerges will be a double-edged sword that can cut to the bottom of an issue quickly. 

Energetic Theory

The qigong components of the program have also greatly impacted my perspective on life.  It’s one thing to intellectually learn the energetic theories of the body, but it’s another to actually feel the energy moving up and down the meridians or drawing energy into and pushing it out of your body.  If there was ever any proof needed for the existence of a world beyond the physical, my experience with medical qigong at AOMA has provided it.  I had an inkling back in my Massachusetts days when I was exploring Tibetan Buddhism, just a few meditative experiences that pointed to a non-physical realm.  Medical qigong totally sealed the deal.  Clinically, I noticed that my patients who received medical qigong felt as if they got more out of the treatments.  In addition, several patients who received only medical qigong were absolutely stunned by their experience, as if they were floating, for instance. 

Community & Leadership

Another core pillar of my experience at AOMA was the AOMA Student Association (ASA).  At first, I just went to a few meetings here and there.  At the time there were 4-6 people at each meeting.  When I later ran for Vice-President of the ASA, I was experiencing a particular surge of confidence in myself and my abilities.  Although I ran unopposed, I was proud because it was the first office I held for any association since high school.  By the time I became ASA President, the average size of the meetings had grown to 12-15, and members were becoming a lot more active.  I really enjoyed seeing the organizational growth that we had stimulated.  The shining achievement of the ASA during my term as President was the Advancing Integrative Medicine at AOMA event.  We brought together over 80 students and alumni for a full day of free lectures by well-known speakers in the field, some of which even offered CEUs!  I was super proud of this event, and it has shown me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. 

Integration

What goes without saying is that I have found acupuncture and herbal medicine to be very effective.  A bit silly to express it in such simple terms, but there are still a lot of people in our culture who are either on the fence or completely close-minded about acupuncture.  My overall experience in the student clinic was undeniably positive.  I have seen so many patients come through our doors at AOMA, and almost all of them leave satisfied with their treatment.

I have finished the program with the confidence and determination to improve the standing of Chinese medicine in our culture.  Integrating all the various alternative and mainstream modalities of American medicine is my life goal, and the direction in which I will be focusing all my attention post-graduation.  Already in the works, I am helping organize Austin’s first integrative health workers cooperative.  It’s going to be a lot of difficult, ground-breaking work, but in the end it is the only way that I want to practice medicine.  Just as my perspective on life has become more dynamic and capable of understanding new phenomena, the integration of Western and Eastern modalities will make the practice of medicine as a whole much stronger.


About David Taylor, LAc

Modern Muck Acupuncture

David studied neuroscience and psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  After graduating magna cum laude in 2008, he worked at the UMass Medical School performing molecular immunology research.  Wishing to study medicine, but not be dependent on pharmaceuticals for his practice, David decided to study acupuncture & Chinese medicine.  He graduated from AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in May 2013, and received his acupuncture license in September 2013.  He currently practices in Austin, Texas.

Having studied both Western science and Eastern medicine, David has a unique view of the human body, and in particular the human psyche.  Eastern philosophy points to a hidden, yet tangible, force to explain the workings of the body, while Western medicine only accepts that which is visible and measurable. The two perspectives almost always have different explanations for the same phenomenon, yet drawing lines between the two often creates a richer understanding of the problem.  In this way, a fusion of the two perspectives allows for an extremely versatile approach to medicine.

David's website - Modern Muck Acupuncture

 

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Topics: student spotlight, alumni, alumni spotlight, acupuncture school, transformation

Acupuncture Student Spotlight: Blake Gordon, ND

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Wed, Oct 02, 2013 @ 09:39 AM

Blake Gordon Acupuncture studentAOMA student Blake Gordon is known on campus for her infectious smile and her extensive knowledge of naturopathic medicine.

Although Blake’s home is in East Texas, where she attended school from high school through graduate school, she wasn’t introduced to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) until she moved to Arizona to attend Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM). It was there that she first experienced the amazing effects of TCM personally and saw firsthand how it improved the lives of patients she treated.

As Blake neared graduation from SCNM, she knew that she wanted to come back to Texas and offer Texans another approach to health and healing. However, she wanted more training in TCM, so she asked her TCM professor which schools in Arizona and Texas he thought were the best. Fortunately, he was a graduate of Chengdu University in China, and noted that many of the professors from AOMA were as well. According to him, Blake would get the best TCM education from AOMA, because he knew that the AOMA professors there had received the best training in China.  Per his suggestion, she later visited AOMA and upon touring the campus: “I knew that it was the best place for me to truly learn TCM,” Blake said. “Thankfully, his recommendation stands true!”

She certainly has a lot of experience to offer her patients and her community. Not only is she a working as a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), but with an extensive background in teaching and bachelor and master’s degrees in Biology, she also conducts multiple nutrition and health talks for the local Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center. She definitely keeps busy, also working part-time at Peoples Pharmacy in Westlake.

Blake admits her hard work is not always easy. This is now her 12th year of post-high school training as she pursues her goal of being both an ND and Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc). “It can get a little cumbersome at times,” Blake said. Blake’s intended graduation date of December 2014 is only a little over a year away, however.

Although it can be a challenge to remain steadfast in her studies, she credits her perseverance to her faith in Jesus Christ and having a group of supportive family and friends to keep her going. In her free time, she usually chooses to relax by catching up on sleep or watching a variety of shows on Hulu Plus.

One of the reasons Blake was drawn to Chinese medicine was its unique blend of simplicity with brilliance and wisdom. “I love the fact that Chinese medicine was developed centuries ago; however, it is still applicable to any person today.  TCM incorporates all parts of the person, i.e. physical and emotional aspects, as well as addressing the person’s lifestyle.”

As a naturopathic doctor, she is a big fan of how food, the environment, one’s emotional state and thoughts, lifestyle choices and numerous other factors are all major contributors to a person’s state of health within the TCM diagnostic process.

Blake’s advice to other AOMA students? “Know that God has a great plan for your life and that it’s up to you whether you chose to participate in His plan for you or to go your own way.”

 Discover the Art & Spirit of Healing: Introduction to Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

 

 

 

Topics: student spotlight, acupuncture school, transformation

Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award 2013

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 02:52 PM

herbal studies awardAt the 2013 commencement ceremony on September 15th, AOMA student Leila Plummer was recipient of the Michael Garcia Prendes Herbal Excellence Award. Since 2006 this honor has been bestowed upon a student who excels in the study of herbal medicine. The recipient is chosen by the previous year’s beneficiary, as someone who strives for superior herbal knowledge and shares the love of learning herbs with fellow students.

In 2012, the award went to Vivian Linden, who chose Leila as this year’s recipient. Vivian shares, “I believe that our most rewarding relationship with herbal medicine will be achieved through fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with our herbal allies –making them friends instead of just servants. Leila exemplifies this and it is what makes her truly excellent!”

It is clear to her fellow classmates that Leila holds a great respect for the study of herbal medicine as an academic, clinical, and extracurricular pursuit. But what is most notable about Leila is her reverence for the plants themselves.

Leila’s extracurricular herbal studies have included:

herbal studies

  • Serving and training in Nicaragua in 2012 with master herbalists providing free natural medicine to the underserved

  • Certified Community Herbalist and Herbal Apprentice from the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine (Western herbalism)

  • Member of the American Herbalist Guild (student member) and United Plant Savers

  • Working as a wellness consultant, helping people with herbs and nutrition at herb stores and health food stores

“I am humbled and grateful to the AOMA community for thinking of me for this award. AOMA has a strong herbal program, which is why I chose this school; it is an honor to get to learn from such knowledgeable and caring faculty.  The kindness of the student body has also always impressed me -- here, learners look after each other and help each other out,” said Leila.

Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007)

The award is named in honor of Michael Garcia Prendes (1964-2007). Michael graduated from the University of Kentucky Phi Beta Kappa with distinction from the Honor's Program with degrees in Political Science and Sociology.

In 1990, Michael moved to Austin, Texas where he eventually continued his education at AOMA. He was a loved and cherished classmate, tutor, mentor and friend. While at AOMA, Michael was instrumental in the development of the Herbal Outreach Program. Because of Michael's generosity, many patients have been able to receive necessary herbs.

One of Michael's greatest passions and loves was tennis. Michael founded the Austin Tennis Club, a local tennis organization that has grown to over 100 members and has raised thousands of dollars for local charities. Michael loved being on the tennis court as a player, teacher and coach, and he used his talents and eye for the game to teach many tennis camps.

herbal awardMichael Garcia Prendes contracted a terminal illness and died before he could graduate. AOMA framed a beautiful print that Michael painted of a tennis player (with acupuncture meridians) about to serve a ball.  Michael painted the piece for Pam Ferguson’s shiatsu class.  The print hangs in the student lounge with the sentiment that suits Michael’s character: “Be present and focus, Lift up and Serve.”

Michael's generosity, compassion, sincerity, selflessness, and kind heart will always be an inspiration to his family and friends. Michael lived his life with integrity, honesty, and courage. Michael was a true gift to all who were lucky to know him and who were blessed by his humor, love and kindness.

How Michael helped students learn Chinese herbs

One of many students who benefited from Michael’s herbal tutoring was Consuelo Gonzalez, class of 2009.

“Michael had very special teaching qualities. He would explain with patience and humor the terminology of the herbs. Michael made it easy for us to identify the herbs. He would use pneumonic words to relate the herbs with funny stories or events to get them connected all at one category. We always had a blast each time we get together with him. It is hard to find someone like him, but before he left he gave us the guidelines to imitate him.”

Classmates remember Michael

Michael has touched me deeply and will always be a part of who I am no matter if I'm playing tennis or treating a patient. I feel so lucky to have been on the receiving end of so much love and generosity which he shared with everyone, and for which he will always be remembered. - Adrienne Kam, class of 2009


I have never met a more selfless, loving, giving man than Michael Garcia Prendes.  His concern for his fellow students overrode everything else, and up to his last days, he put others welfare before his own. - Kathy Kerr, class of 2008


Michael helped so many people, including myself, to see the true potential in themselves and build confidence in their learning capabilities.  - Sarah Wilson, class of 2008

I knew Michael to be a compassionate and wise soul. He was always kind and offered me valuable comfort when I was going through a sad time.  His donations and support of Herbal Outreach were unsolicited and showed him to be thoughtful and generous with his time and efforts. I am grateful to have known him. - Jessica Fritz, class of 2005

Previous Recipients of the Herbal Excellence Award

Erin Taliaferro, 2006

Rebecca Benson, 2007

Marc Smith, 2008

Alison Beard, 2009

Cat Calhoun, 2010

Joshua Shain, 2011

Vivian Linden, 2012

Download Guide to Career in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Topics: student spotlight, herbal medicine, scholarship, herbal studies

Retrospective Reflection: An AOMA Career Observed

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Sep 03, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

When I came to AOMA, all I really knew was that this stuff was magic and I wanted to do it.  I knew very little about traditional Chinese medicine, although I was fairly learned in general Taoism.  It was a long path, beginning in my religious studies curriculum in my undergrad program that culminated with me enrolling here ten years later.  I changed a lot in that time, but I’ve changed more since.

I started in the program having most recently worked as a sixth-grade teacher, something I knew I never wanted to do again.  But I got into that business to “help people”, or whatever I assumed would bring some personal value to my professional life.  This would be a one-on-one version of helping people, and that was something I’d never really done.  Also, I would be touching people familiarly, which I’d also never done.  I was nervous, but it was still very theoretical at that point, and clinic was still two years away.

I felt very at home in class from the outset.  I’ve been a scholastic overachiever my whole life, so reading interesting texts, listening to brilliant professors, and getting A’s on tests fit right into my established personality.  Only in Point Location did I really start to see a different side of the coin: we’d be touching each other, and we’d be taking our clothes off in front of each other to some extent.  I’m modest and wasn’t particularly excited about this second part.  But I realized immediately that this business required people taking their clothes off in front of me.  I challenged myself and volunteered to be a Point Location model anytime it could be embarrassing, and eventually got pretty comfortable with it.

I made some friends my first term, but they moved on without me when my father died during my second term and I withdrew.  I joined the next cohort and had to reestablish myself.  It took some time, but I forced myself to be open to the new class, partially because they were with me all the time and partially because it was an exercise in fighting my shyness and practicing networking, neither of which come naturally to me.

My father’s death had a profound effect on my time at AOMA.  I questioned my new path and decided his death didn’t change what I was going to do.  But depression settled into the lives of my wife and me, and I took little pleasure in anything.  But somehow, at school I didn’t feel the same.  I was working on something larger, and I was able to divorce my emotional turmoil from my sense of purpose in my education.  Still, I was always cognizant of an inescapable fact: I would never have the opportunity to put needles in my dad.

There is a varied student body at this school.  My wife and I threw a Super Bowl party every year, and one year I realized I was sitting on my couch between two doctors, one a chiropractor and one a naturopath.  I never previously saw myself as being in a social circle with doctors, but there I was.  Equally notable among students are the esoteric, energy-focused students, the kind who always know what the moon is doing, the kind who regularly speak about feeling the love in a group or about their heart energies opening.  I am not this kind of person.  I am analytical.  I majored in English because it interested me, not because it came naturally to me.  The theoretical and informational aspects of this education are right in my wheelhouse.  The energetic, esoteric aspects I’ve had to develop, and in this I am still very incomplete and must continue to progress in it.

Herbs was the first subject here that really tested me.  It was more information than I’ve ever had to learn, with more detail and various angles than I’m used to dealing with.  I actually had to study, and this was difficult.  I made myself do it, and I found that I could be successful in it.  This gave me more confidence that I was doing the right thing.

By far, the clinical education in this program has been the most transformative.  I’ve seen the power of the medicine promote healing, even when I thought I’d performed a sub-par treatment.  I’ve seen patients cry right in front of me, and I’ve learned how to maintain a professional but caring presence for them.  I’ve grown comfortable with touching patients of all genders, sizes, and ages.  I’ve seen the ravages of disease, both physical and psycho-spiritual.  I’ve learned what it means to have a level of trust put in me that I would have previously thought impossible.  I’ve feigned confidence, and then grown into it.  In my time in clinic, I’ve felt myself grow from a student into an acupuncturist, and I like the way it feels.

As I graduate and move into this profession, I must stay motivated.  Typically, I excel in formal classes, because I feel a sense of obligation to the professor and I want to get good grades.  I usually want to use my free time to read fiction and watch movies.  But now there are many aspects of my professional career that I need to study, and I must study to promote my abilities.  Initially, I will focus on subjects to support building a new business, accepting insurance, recognizing red flags.  I feel that I still need significant practice with herbal medicine to be truly effective, and I have several resources that I will begin studying, primarily from a Classical viewpoint.  I also want to continue developing my acupuncture technique, and I think I will focus first on perfecting my mirroring and imaging techniques and on Master Tong acupuncture. This is just the beginning of my life-long learning in the field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Concerning the educational outcomes at AOMA, I would say I feel very confident in collecting and analyzing patient data, producing a correct diagnosis, and coming up with a solid treatment, both with acupuncture and with herbs.  I have a fair understanding of the basics of biomedical assessment.  I’m comfortable with recognizing red flags or important times for referrals, as well as in basic physical assessment for range of motion and determining involved structures.  I’ve grown more effective in including the patient in their treatment in a collaborative way, but I can continue to improve.  I want buy-in, I want their trust, I want their compliance, and collaboration is the best way to earn these.  I’m confident in my literature reviews and outcome measures of any single patient, though I must stay on top of current studies and outside literature to continue to increase my efficacy.

I’m comfortable with my professionalism at this point.  I believe that I act, behave, and perform in this medicine as professionally as I possibly can at this point.  I have a strong sense of medical and personal ethics, and I keep the good of the patient always at the forefront.  This is not to say that I cannot continue to improve.  I can, and I will.  I truly do believe in the utmost importance of true rectitude and professionalism.  I believe that what we as acupuncturists, moxibustionists, and herbalists can drastically alter the health outcomes for a wide range of people, and eventually for the Western medical landscape as a whole.

As I look back at this educational experience, the place that I have the most room for improvement is in implementing what I’ve learned in my own life.  At times, I feel like a dried-out husk of a person.  As a new father and soon-graduate, I’ve been burning the proverbial candle on both ends, as well as in the middle.  I picture my adrenals as a couple of dehydrated raisins.  Finally, in just one week, I will again have some time to devote to myself and my own health.  I know the transformative abilities of qigong, daily exercise, regular acupuncture treatments, meditation, herbal intake, and rest.  For the most effective clinical outcomes, I want my clients to grow in each of these areas.  It is now time for me to do the same.  I need to show my clients that I buy what I’m selling, and that I’m the better for it.  It’s time for me to be an example of a life well lived and enriched by Chinese Medicine.

bryan ellettBryan Ellett, MAOM, L.Ac.

Bryan was first introduced to acupuncture while studying Eastern religion at SMU.  When acupuncture successfully treated his own allergies and saved his wife from undergoing surgery, he decided to pursue this ancient science as a full-time career.  Bryan graduated from the prestigious AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin where he was recognized as a top student of acupuncture, herbology, and Asian bodywork.  He is licensed by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners and is board certified by the NCCAOM.  Bryan has training in modern biomedicine, allowing him to work together with physicians to address varying health issues.  In his clinical practice, he has successfully treated clients for a wide variety of conditions including digestive disorders, pregnancy-related discomforts and menstrual irregularities, emotional issues, smoking cessation, chronic hepatitis, vertigo, sports injuries, and chronic pain.  Most recently, he edited a book on pediatric acupuncture with respected physician and acupuncturist Dr. Jamie Wu.  He speaks conversational and medical Spanish, and is trained in cosmetic acupuncture.

Bryan believes that the best way to benefit the world is to enrich his corner of it, which is why he is committed to staying local and treating the people in his very own neighborhood.  When he is not curing what ails his community, Bryan can be found playing frisbee golf, strumming his guitar, or reading.  He lives in Lake Highlands with his wife Heather, young son Emerson, loud dog Capote, and ornery cat Syd Franklin.

Lake Highlands Acupuncture serves the communities of Lake Highlands, East Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, and Richardson, Texas.

Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine

Topics: student spotlight, transformation, mentor

Acupuncture Student Spotlight: Gregory King

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Tue, Jul 09, 2013 @ 01:24 PM

   

acupuncture student, greg kingAOMA student, Gregory King can usually be found by his resounding laughter echoing in the hallway.  Greg comes from Louisville, Kentucky where he discovered martial arts. During the first year of the program at AOMA he was working as a mentor for inner city youth. His case load included children who struggled with suicidal motives, depression, gang violence, and social isolation. Greg says, “I am grateful for the learning of the experience but it was extremely difficult. I overcame by really taking myself to the mat.” He began collaborating with world renowned martial artist Tom Callos and joined Ultimate Black Belt Team. Greg says, “This simple practice gave me a focus on becoming stronger because I was feeling the weakest and most vulnerable I have ever felt in my entire life.”

Greg received his first acupuncture treatment from Umaru Jutte, one of the most experienced practitioners in Tennessee. Another friend that studied acupuncture and had Umaru as a mentor Umaru really inspired me. “Lisa always encouraged me to practice medical qigong for hours a day to augment the treatments I was receiving from her. This made me a better student and martial artist.”

Greg did his undergraduate senior project on “Meditations on Medicine” where he integrated his own health philosophy with medical traditions of Kamet, Tibet and China. While engaged in this project he felt called to ministry and began applying to seminary schools. After the passing of several family members Greg ended up regrouping in Austin with a set of close friends. Around the same time, his health started declining and he felt that beginning acupuncture school at AOMA would help center him and improve his health. Now, with the help of AOMA professor Dr. Joel Cone, practicing martial arts, and receiving regular acupuncture treatments, Greg feels like he as healthy as he has ever been.

Greg is involved in AOMA Jujitsu club and continues his martial arts studies. In clinic, he is inspired by working with Dr. William Morris because of his passion for Chinese medicine. He says, “Will is excited and knowledgeable about what he does and that invokes excitement in me. He is able to teach a method that is practical and able to integrate what I am currently learning in my classes.”

Greg is also very politically minded when it comes to healthcare. He participated in one sit-in against the state of Tennessee for cutting 350,000 people from state funded TennCare. His passion for health and wellness is marked by his personal mission to study models of healthcare that are accessible to the underserved. He is also moved to educate people about investing in local and organic foods and the dangers of big farm industry and genetically modified foods.

Greg is the first from his family to graduate with a college degree and upon receiving his masters at AOMA he has big ideas of how to promote the medicine. He would like to do research to better understand the biomedical overlap of western and Chinese medicine. He wants to provide acupuncture to individuals that cannot afford healthcare, particularly the Appalachian community that has been devastated by industrial development. He has also been thinking about opening a healthcare coop as a viable solution to get people invested in their own health and promoting the ginseng industry to help people become more connected to making their own medicine.

 

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Topics: student spotlight

Acupuncture School Student Elaina Stover Receives Scholarship

Posted by Sarah Bentley on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 @ 11:49 AM

acupuncture school scholarshipElaina Stover received a $2,000 scholarship from Trudy McAlister Foundation for her acupuncture program studies at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, one of the leading graduate schools of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the nation.

Elaina grew up in Tallmadge, Ohio where she developed her passion for anatomical and health sciences.  She discovered in high school her passion for looking deep inside the structures of the body and obtained a Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.

After her graduation she took an internship in Africa doing research on sustainable rural health care.  She comments, “I found it difficult to stay behind the scenes researching in the field, I realized I wanted to be able to touch and help people more directly.” 

Upon returning to the United States Elaina attended yoga teacher training in New York and worked with instructor Francois Raoult MA, RIYT, and learned the technique of  using the tongue as a diagnostic tool for better understanding of the body.  She learned that tongue diagnosis is an aspect of Chinese medicine, leading her to Austin to study at AOMA.

The Trudy McAlister Foundation awards students who are currently enrolled in an ACAOM accredited acupuncture school.  Students must also complete an essay to be considered for this scholarship.  Elaina wrote about the role of Traditional Chinese Medicine in health care today.  She writes, “Participation is how we take ownership of our profession, shape policy and affect decision making, as well as share our profession and knowledge with the public and health professionals.”  Elaina plans on graduating in 2014 and desires to work in an integrative setting with nurses, massage therapist, and naturopaths.  

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

Topics: student spotlight, scholarship

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