China

As I stated in last week's blog, I planned to interview one of the graduates who went to China. 

A little background: Dr. Cai has connections with one of the hospitals in Xi'an and is friends with one of the hospital directors. More than a year ago, she set up a program for the students. In exchange for a year in China teaching English at Shaanxi University, the students are able to study in the hospital with the other doctors. The students are given housing and paid a minimal wage to teach. They also receive two months off in the summer to travel. Cherlyn, one of the herbal students, left in February to travel to China and is currently on summer break and visiting us. 

2011-07-05_Friends

Culture

As I talked with Cherlyn at dinner, she stated what a big culture shock it is to be in China. They are living in one of the oldest Chinese cities and it shows. There were a few surprises that they have had to become accustomed to, such as the plumbing, but that is such a small quirk compared to the beauty of the city. Everyone is really friendly and like family. Many of the dinners are focused around "dim sum," which is like a big lazy susan where all the food is shared among those at the table. It's like Thanksgiving every night.

Studies

At the hospital, where she spends four hours a couple of times a week, she has enjoyed learning new techniques that are not taught in the U.S. For instance, they do a lot of herbal injections into acupuncture points. This could be for menstrual cramps, to induce labor, for Bell's palsy, and much more.

She has also seen them do a lot of blood transfusions. For example, the doctor will extract blood from the cubital vein and then energetically inject it into ST 36. ST 36, Zu San Li , is a very important and powerful point in Chinese medicine. In Chinese literature, it is often said to moxa this point every day to bring long life. 

She has also seen a lot of flash cupping done to the face for Bell's palsy. She said the doctors treat a lot of facial paralysis at the hospital. Cherlyn and her roommate Andrea, also a graduate of NUHS, have put together a website, Jouneys to Healing Medicine, to share their experiences and new knowledge. She says she really enjoys China and all the new experiences it brings her. She also likes the downtime to practice yoga every morning and read books she has always wanted.

2011-07-05_BalloonsHot air balloons at Eyes to the Sky festival in Lisle.

Well, that's all for now, I hope everyone enjoyed their Fourth of July.

Halfway to Graduation

Holy cow! It's the start of the eighth week and only eight more to go 'til the big day. The weeks seem to fly by. I have already applied for graduation and need to check if I have completed all of my university and community service hours. It is best to start early on in the program because before you know it you will be graduating.

Community service hours are volunteer work done throughout the community, possibly helping with a relay race or at a food shelter. University hours are done on campus and there are many possibilities, such as helping with the recycle program. 

Pulse Club

We have a newly formed Pulse Club, founded by Noel Jensen, the president of the AOM club. They have had two meetings that meet random days to try to accommodate everyone's schedule. It can be hard to find the perfect day because even though all the students have night classes, some have morning or afternoon clinic shifts that are hard to work around. 

In the club, they are listening to a 5-part seminar by Jimmy Chang, a well-known acupuncturist and expert in reading the pulse. The seminars can be taken individually through the Lotus Institute. Weekly free webinars on various topics are great for students. There are a few of these free webinars online, just Google and sign up on their email list to receive weekly reminders. I have watched a few, namely on inflammation and pain, common pediatric syndromes seen in clinic, and a fertility webinar. 

More Good News

My husband recently received his score on the Part 4 chiropractic boards and he did very well. He scored high enough to practice in any state in the U.S. Two states require 100 points higher than the others and he surpassed that number. So now we have a new dilemma of whether to stay in Illinois or move to a warmer state?

2011-06-27_HubbyMy husband and I.

It's usually not until the last few trimesters that students start thinking about where they will practice and whether they will open a practice, independent contract, work for another medical professional, or continue their education. National does provide an Alumni link on our website where other professionals can advertise. Job offers, practices for sale and even equipment for sale can be found. Acupuncture Today, a publication for acupuncturists, has a classified section as well as the state AOM organization. Many possibilities, it's just finding the one that suits you is the hardest decision. Well, wish me luck.

A recent grad that moved to China to teach and intern has made a trip back to Illinois. Hopefully, next week I will have a blog about her experiences in China.

What a Good Week!

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 results. 

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.

Something Different

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!

Elizabeth -cookgroup

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! 

Elizabeth -cookgroup2      Elizabeth -cookgroup3

Homecoming

This weekend was of great importance for the school because it was Homecoming Week. The celebration brings together many people. All alumni are invited back to the school and often to an Oak Brook hotel where the event is held. It is much anticipated by many of the staff and planned for months in advance.

Many of the departments have tables where they display important projects or improvements to that department. Dr. William Bogar, chief of diagnostic imaging and residency, was at the hotel where he displayed many of his radiographic findings in light boxes.

Homecoming Dr Bogar Presents _webDr. Bogar presenting radiographic findings at Homecoming.

Homecoming is a great time for students to mingle with fellow graduates. The weekend is full of speakers with a broad range of topics and a great way for alumni to earn CEUs. One of the speakers was discussing the role of chiropractors as primary care physicians and utilizing that role to serve those unable to afford health care. The keynote speaker on Friday before the pig roast was an ND, Dr. Joe Pizzorno, who spoke of the role of the natural medicine professional in the new health care paradigm. That was a great way to kick off homecoming.

Alumni can also mingle with old classmates and tour the university to see all of the updates that have been occurred, including the small garden planted by the ND students. The garden contains many botanical plants as well as a few Chinese botanicals. There were student opportunities, such as the chiropractic students manning a clinic and giving free adjustments for alumni. Students are able to attend some of the festivities and lectures for or a minimal fee.  

I like the idea of homecoming because it is a great way to mingle and make contacts with other professionals. It is especially important for those soon to be graduating. My husband talked with a few doctors and we will soon be contacting them to visit their office. Many of the doctors like to share the wisdom they have learned along the way during their careers.

Acupuncture is fairly new to the university, but, hopefully, it won't be long before we see more acupuncture grads at homecoming as well as speakers. Next year, I will be attending homecoming as an alumni. :)  

Only 67 days till graduation!

Clinic Success

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 pain stimuli. 

Diagnosis

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 manifestations.  

Elizabeth -group _web 640Fellow interns.

Treatment

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.

Results

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 two weeks.

Self Help

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.

Follow-Up

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 balanced.