Hello, prospective students! If you are new to my page you may
not know that I will be graduating in August. Yay!
About a month back I took the first of my four board exams. Some
states only require three, so to see what your state requires you
may go to nccaom.org and browse for state requirements.
Usually when you take the computerized board exam it will tell you
if you passed, but since the biomedical portion is so new they are
still working out kinks so they mail the results. It's grueling
because you have to wait 30 days. I received my results this week
and I passed! It is such a good feeling to see the
Besides my results, I had a good week in clinic. I had 16
patient visits to add to my tally sheet to meet my 450 total
patient visits for all my clinic shifts. I saw my continuing
patients but also a few new cases. I filled in for an intern who
usually sees PTSD patients. These patients receive specific
auricular points to help cope with their stress and anxiety. These
patients are so grateful because they are experiencing results and
receive the treatments for free.
Dr. Yihyun Kwon has started to see stroke patients in the
clinic. This is part of his ongoing stroke clinical study on the
results of acupuncture and herbs in stroke victims with any kind of
paralysis. I have been very lucky to be able to observe his cases
as he takes a history, needles and gives the patients instructions
on home exercises and dietary changes. Some of the points he uses
are not commonly used in clinic, as well as his needling method, so
it is fascinating!
On Thursday I had the pleasure of eating with one of my favorite
professors. She wanted to cook for a fellow acupuncture grad who
has treated her in the past. It was her way of saying thank you to
the grad and she invited me as well. We had a feast, as you can see
in the pictures. We had noodles, fried rice, tofu, shrimp, fish,
baby bok choy, dumplings, and egg drop soup. Oh my, it was so much
food and so yummy!
The weeks keep flying by, probably because I am in clinic six
different shifts, which seems to make the days fly by. I would like
to take a moment to talk a little about a special case I have. I
started treating a patient this trimester that was recently
diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Everyone is familiar with the word or diagnosis of fibromyalgia,
but how is it defined? Fibromyalgia is defined as a disorder of the
muscles and connective tissues. Patients have muscle pain, tender
spots, and they may have sleep disturbances, fatigue or depression.
Researchers have many theories of what may cause fibromyalgia such
as low serotonin levels, or an increased chemical called "substance
P" that can be caused both by stress or emotional trauma. Others
believe muscle "microtrauma" leads to fibromyalgia, and yet some
researchers believe genes play a role in how the body responds to
In TCM, we diagnose based on the answers the patient states
about their pain as well as their response to questions about other
bodily functions. TCM does have acute and chronic pain diagnoses as
well those that sound like they have nothing to do with pain.
However, we always diagnose the whole person and not just their
I started treating my patient at the beginning of May. Her
rheumatologist had just diagnosed her as having fibromyalgia two
weeks previously. During history taking, she said she also had
severe arthritis in her toes and knees. These disorders were
confirmed by either X-rays or bone scan. After completing an
extensive history, I came up with a diagnosis with my clinician and
began treatment. My point prescription was based on the pattern the
patient had that seemed to be causing the TCM organ disturbances
and thus the pain. After the treatment I discussed with the patient
how often I would like to see her and when I would reassess the
condition. I wanted to see her twice a week for three weeks.
After the two weeks she seemed to be getting great results. Her
pain went from a 5 on VAS pain scale to no pain but just soreness.
She also had no headaches, an improved mood and some increase in
energy. She has not had to take her Celebrex for pain control in
After such improvement, I wanted to incorporate stretches that
she could perform at home to relax the muscles and tendons. I
consulted some of my books but also my fellow chiropractic
students. They gave me instructions on how to perform the stretch
and how it would benefit the patient as well as the results I
should see. After explaining and showing these stretches to my
patient, I also gave her diagrams of the stretches with
instructions of how many reps, sets and amount of time to hold.
She was very grateful and appreciated the time I took with her.
This in turn made me feel good because that's what I look forward
to every day--helping my patients improve their condition as well
as allowing them to take control of their health.
After reassessing her pain condition I have concluded that we
can treat once a week and hopefully see enough improvement that we
can do monthly treatments to keep her energy
This trimester has brought much change to the clinic
environment. Most of the change is good and the rest just needs
Previously, we saw three return patients a shift, with
approximately an hour and 15 minutes for each patient. Currently,
we have two shifts, one from 8 am to noon and the second from 1
p.m. to 5 p.m. That also may be changing with the addition of
students to the clinic shifts. There has been talk of schedule
changes this whole trimester but they finally have been
The new schedule
The new schedule allots an hour for a return patient and an hour
and a half for a "new" patient (previously two and a half hours).
The "new" patient visit lasts longer because a full exam and
history must be done. An exam includes blood pressure, pulse rate,
respiration and temperature, and it can include orthopedic and
neurological exams. A chiropractic intern joins us to ask any
additional questions and provide a western diagnosis for insurance
and charting purposes. In Illinois, acupuncturists cannot diagnose
a patient with a disease. The new patient also receives acupuncture
and herbs, if necessary. So with the new schedule, this is all done
in an hour and a half, an hour shorter than the previous time
A positive is the student is faced with a realistic time slot
for future practice arrangements. For me personally, I think it
will be a big challenge to get a full history and exam with the
allotted time, especially with all the discussion that is involved
with the clinicians that also takes time. Another positive to the
new schedule is that it will eventually allow the intern to see
four patients a shift. This will add ease to those that are behind
on their numbers to graduate.
The other change is the individual evaluations given daily by
the clinicians. Each intern will be evaluated by his/her clinician
daily with a weekly prognosis sent by email. I appreciate this
because the intern can see their growth through their time as an
intern. It can also be a good tool for the student to ask
questions on how to improve if their comments did not meet their
Currently, the process is in a transition because each clinic
shift receives a letter grade that reflects our number score of the
average of the evaluations. We as a student body are requesting
that this change to a pass or fail system, so as it will not affect
our grade point average. This is important to those that rely on
scholarships to help fund their schooling. It is hoped that with
time everything will fall into place.
Dr. Hyundo Kim is pictured above. He is my Monday clinician as
well a previous professor. Dr. Kim provides us with much knowledge
of differential diagnosis as well as how to create great herbal
I feel like the weeks just fly by the more days I am in clinic.
Patient visits are starting to pick up with the help of my
wonderful husband referring his patients to me. Referral networks
are great and definitely needed in practice. In clinic, we often
see other students, but many of the students have issues that you
will see in practice such as muscle injuries, stress, menstrual
irregularities, and allergies. Acupuncture and herbs gets good
results with the conditions listed.
The key to Chinese medicine is to find the right pattern and
treat it appropriately. That is probably the hardest part. There
are so many patterns or diagnoses that have to be ruled out. Often
times, there are many layers to the patient's condition. Those
layers play a part in the diagnoses. Diagnoses have two parts in
Oriental Medicine, the root and the branch. For instance, the
branch problem may be allergies, but once you ask all the 10
questions and take tongue and pulse, there may be other reasons or
"roots" the allergies or "branch" is taking place.
If you are new to oriental medicine, we feel the pulse in three
positions along the radial artery. This helps us decipher the Qi of
the person, and depending on the position of the pulse, in what
organ the Qi is having problems. The tongue is also examined and it
gives us a picture of what is happening in the "organs" on a blood
level. We look at the shape, color, coating, and the sublingual
veins underneath the tongue. The pulse is quicker to change than
the tongue so the pulse can more accurately tell us about the
"branch" problem and the tongue can have a more accurate look into
the "root" problem.
For instance, my husband's eye periodically gets red
ever since he accidentally flicked something into his eye while he
was in anatomy lab. In oriental medicine, a red eye that is painful
can be diagnosed as Liver Fire, Liver Yang rising, Heart Fire,
Kidney and Liver Yin deficiency with deficient heat, Lung heat or
Phlegm heat, invasion of Wind heat, or damp heat in the Bladder.
Unfortunately, other things can influence the diagnosis such as his
lifestyle, the foods he eats, his constitution, and any other
pathologies he might have. It is not an easy feat to diagnose.
However, this past week it has gotten very red and painful so we
spent most of our Saturday at the doctor. He has seen five
different ophthalmologists and numerous acupuncturists. The
acupuncture does help with the pain but it can take many treatments
to help the redness and inflammation. We are using acupuncture and
herbs to treat him. This is better than the alternative of steroid
injections into the eye. We are also going to get an inclusive
allergy test done to check for any allergies that may be
contributing to the problem.
Wow, it's already the end of the first week of classes. Our
summer break of two weeks has come and gone and I wish we still had
two more weeks. This trimester I am light on classes with only four
and three clinic shifts. I guess I am getting a reprieve from the
seven classes I took last trimester. However, I am using my
time to refresh on older material and to really study herbs.
I am taking Herbal Treatment Strategy, Western Nutrition, Herbal
Formulas 2, and Business. My three clinic shifts are supervised
under Dr. Xie, Dr. Fan and Dr. Zhu and Jia. I was especially
excited to be under the supervision of Jia because she is
emphasizes the importance of palpation in treatment. But enough
about school for now, I'll get back to that later.
The Summer 2010 graduating class was our biggest so far. Four
students graduated from the Acupuncture program and three students
from the Oriental Medicine (or Herbs program as the students call
it, which is acupuncture and herbs together). It was a bittersweet
graduation because my good friend Nicole graduated. She is from
Charlotte, North Carolina. She also graduated the chiropractic
program with her husband in December and they are opening their own
business in Charlotte. Not soon after break started, I helped her
pack her belongings into her car so she could drive back home. As
students, we learn from class and each other and Nicole has taught
me many things. I plan to visit Nicole and Andy in North Carolina
and I will update you on their practice.
The other "herbal" students that graduated also have big plans.
Andrea has left for China. Dr. Cai helped set up a 1yr program for
graduates. The students go to China for one year and they teach
English a few hours a week and the other time is allotted to follow
clinicians in the University Hospital. It is not clear if the
graduates can needle, but it is an extraordinary learning
experience to see the integration of Western and Eastern in the
hospital. The students are paid to teach English and they can use
this money to travel on weekends or the two-month break they are
Margo also graduated from the herbal program and she has plans
to go back to her home country of Poland. From what Margo
understands, she might have to get a PhD to practice Oriental
Medicine, but it is very accepted by the people in Poland. However,
the European Union is also very strict in authorizing certain herbs
to be used in practice, so she might have to modify her formulas to
omit any animal products, however other herbs can be substituted.
These ladies are intelligent and great with patients, and I wish
them much luck in the future!
Note: The pictures are of Nicole and Mike (He graduated
MSAc and is practicing chiropractic and acupuncture in Naperville,
Ill.) and Andrea, Dr. Cai, Nicole, and Margo.
• Clinic Success
• Rainy Saturday
• Business Planning
• Bee Venom Therapy
• Kinesio Taping
• SACA Seminar
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