As I promised last week, I was able to have lunch while
interviewing a graduate of the Oriental Medicine Program. Margaret
Thompson-Choi, you might remember, wrote this blog before
Margaret graduated in December 2009. After graduation, she spent
5 weeks in Korea continuing her OM education hands-on at a
hospital. She visited Kyung Hee University in the months of January
and February while staying with her in-laws. Margaret says the
hospital specializes in Bell's Palsy, so she would feel very
comfortable treating such patients in her office.
Kyung Hee University has 12 departments and students have the
choice of touring one or all of the departments. Margaret spent 8
hours a day touring the university and was very impressed with the
hospital. "It was similar to a Western hospital; they utilized all
of the same equipment, such as MRI machines to help diagnose
patients," she said, "and it was also very sanitary."
Some of the interesting things she witnessed were the doctors
doing manipulation to patients called Chuna, which she described as
similar to chiropractic adjustments. The hospital also utilized
pulse machines that were able to electronically print out the pulse
diagnosis from a strap around the patient's wrist. The doctors also
took high quality pictures of the patient's tongue. These were used
in diagnoses but also to show improvement to the patient. Margaret
also noticed that some doctors only practiced herbs. After writing
a prescription for the patient, they would give it to the
hospital's pharmacy. The pharmacy had big vats that they prepared
and boiled the herbs in. They then put the individual dosages into
little cartons that the patient could drink right away.
Margaret really enjoyed her experience and recommends the
university as shorter alternative to the year-long China trip. The
trip would run around $2,000 plus lodging.
Currently, Margaret is working at one location in Chicago and
two locations in Naperville. At one of those locations, she is an
independent contractor and is slowly building up her patient base.
She currently sees one to seven patients a day but would be happy
to see 8-12 a day. She also has the ability to recommend herbs if
the patient chooses.
She states, "There are jobs out there for acupuncturists, you
just need to find them." She looked on craigslist, sent letters to
chiropractors, and checked on NUHS's alumni site for job offerings.
She also suggested joining a leads group in the town in which you
would like to practice. The group meets weekly and exchanges
business cards. She suggests working at two places maximum to build
up a good clientele. When I asked her for her advice, she said, "Be
prepared for set-backs." Things may take longer than anticipated
such as getting your license and finding work. But it all works
I would like to thank Margaret for allowing me to interview her
and for sharing her experiences with all of the future