Graduation

This is my last week of classes! I'm filled with anticipation and excitement for what this next chapter will bring. I am thankful to all of you for reading my blog. I appreciated your emails and feedback. Writing this blog has been a highlight of my week over the past two years. While graduating feels exhilarating, leaving this blog, NUHS clinic and classes, and daily interactions with my friends/students feels bittersweet. 

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The parting from NUHS feels bittersweet because in many ways NUHS has become like family. Looking back at the past couple of years, I have spent almost as much time at NUHS as I have spent at home. Then, when I have been home, NUHS has been prevalent through homework, studying, and papers. NUHS was a dominant role in my life, so now that I'm graduating, I realize all the parts of NUHS I will miss. That solemn feeling is partnered with gratitude for all NUHS has offered me. I have learned information and experienced opportunities more than I imagined upon enrolling at NUHS. I desired to work with pediatric patients, PTSD patients, in a hospital setting, write a scholastic blog, learn AOM information rarely found in books, and much more. But, I assumed many of these experiences would come once I graduated. I am so thankful I have experienced all these and more, allowing me to bring a much broader skill set into my practice.

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Now that the chapter of earning my MSOM is closing, I have a new career chapter opening. I will be going into practice treating all conditions. I am specializing in pediatrics, fertility support, and pain management. I have many goals set for this chapter of my life. My primary goals are along the lines of teachings I read many years ago by Mother Teresa; they are very simple: "Love strongly, do as much good in this world as you can in as much time as you have. Remember, love first begins by taking care of those at home." These teachings are the main foundation of all my other goals in life!

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Thank you again for reading my blog. I have enjoyed writing it each week. Next trimester, Dia will be the new AOM blog writer. An introductory blog was written about her a few weeks ago. I am sure you will find her blogs very informative and helpful! 

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I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!!!

Patient Responses

I recently received emails from two of my AOM patients. In their emails, they shared their responses to AOM treatment. Since they feel they have benefited by AOM, they were willing to share their experiences in this blog. They expressed interest in sharing their experiences as they hope others may benefit by reading them. They hope it helps readers understanding the benefits that can occur through AOM treatments.

Penny wrote:

"I have had the opportunity to receive various oriental medicine treatments over the past few years. I have been amazed how well the treatments have helped my various issues. One of my treatments was soaking my injured foot in medicinal Chinese herbs. The herb soaks helped decrease the pain and the swelling of my foot. It was not a cure for the injury, but the soaks greatly minimized the symptoms of the injury.

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Two additional forms of treatments I have received are auricular (ear) acupuncture and ear seeds (pictured above) for lower back pain. I have been amazed how well auricular therapies have treated my pain and inflammation. Within minutes I felt a remarkable decrease in pain. Within about 24 hours, my flexibility greatly improved just from one treatment. My pain quickly went from a 7/10 to a 2-3/10 on the pain scale. Auricular treatments have also been very effective in reducing the pain caused by the foot injury.  I have also received acupuncture several times for various reasons. This is definitely a treatment I would recommend. It has helped with headaches and stomach issues."

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Emily wrote:

"I have received acupuncture, ear seeds, cupping, and have taken Chinese herbs many times for various ailments. I have used them for physical pain and emotional issues. I have been very happy with all treatments. If I was able to do these treatments on a regular basis I think I would see greater benefits. Unfortunately, my work and the location where I live prevent the ability for regular appointments." 

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Penny and Emily, thank you for sharing your experiences! I am thankful for your beneficial results. I hope this helps readers who have not experienced AOM or are thinking about pursuing an education in AOM receive a broader understanding of AOM's impact on patients.

The Zoo - Time for Fun

After completion of last week's NUHS exit exams, it was time for some fun! This weekend my family and I went to the Brookfield Zoo. Since I was a child, I have enjoyed going to the zoo. In addition to seeing the animals, this weekend many companies, families, and volunteers were decorating their sponsored Christmas trees.

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Lining the walkway of the zoo were hundreds of Christmas trees. While we were walking around, we had the opportunity to see Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts hanging handmade ornaments on the trees. The kids smiled with excitement as they hung their carefully crafted ornament. 

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I have included pictures of some of my favorite handmade ornaments. Many of the decorations had a theme of recycling and environmental awareness. Two of the pictured ornaments are a decorated container and a decorated soda bottle. What creative ideas! I'm excited for my family to make these, too!

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We didn't stay until dark, but saw thousands of holiday lights ready to be lit once the sun set. This is the season for Brookfield Zoo lights. The zoo is normally a wonderful family environment, but with the holiday spirit in the air, patrons were even more friendly and happy.

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I felt fortunate to have this opportunity to relax and laugh. I have learned through my scholastic journey that it is crucial to stay focused on studying and schoolwork, but it is equally important to take time to have fun and enjoy the journey.

Animals

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My mom is a retired college professor. Growing up, I remember her telling me at the start of each semester, she would tell her students that they needed to study and keep up with the class work. She would follow that with sharing they also needed to do at least one fun thing a week to help them balance out all the hard work. I have integrated that as one of my personal philosophies!

Entrance and Exit Exams

This is the time of the trimester when many students are heavily engrossed in studying--this week is entrance and exit exams. As mentioned in previous blogs, three sets of students take entrance and exit exams: 

  • Students who have fulfilled all their clinical observation responsibilities and first year coursework take internship entrance exams. This is typically an exciting time, as after successful completion of the entrance exams, these students become interns in the NUHS clinic.
  • The second set of entrance exams occurs after the intern has fulfilled at least one year of clinical internship along with their coursework. At this junction, the student/intern takes senior entrance exams.
  • Graduating students also take exams this week. The graduation exams are exit exams. They help the student and school gauge how much information the student has retained since beginning their AOM education at NUHS.

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The initial entrance exam includes testing over point location and theory, foundations of AOM, biomedicine, and a practical exam. The senior entrance exam includes a more advanced version of exams covering those subjects. Additionally, these students are tested in herbology. The exit exam includes all the subjects the senior entrance exams include, but omits the practical portion.

This week I am taking the graduation exit exams. I feel that preparing for these exams is helping me to prepare for taking my board exams. I feel the exit exams are insightful in showing me how much I have learned and retained, how prepared I am for my board exams, and as a way of reminding myself of things I may have forgotten. I find this preparation is very useful for my clinical work as well. Reviewing all the material since beginning at NUHS is helping me rediscover information I had forgotten. As a result, it's helping me re-expand the application of this information clinically.

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As shown in previous blogs, I have two adorable cats that enjoy helping me study.  Typically they let me know when it's time for a study break, as shown in the picture above.

Thank you for reading my blog this week. I hope you make this a great week!

Acupuncture - Essential Health Benefit

As mentioned in previous blogs, I graduate this trimester. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences at NUHS. I have felt privileged and thankful to have the opportunity to write this blog every week. Next trimester, there will be a new AOM blogger. The new blogger is Dia Pfleger. She is an amazing and inspiring woman! 

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Dia Pfleger with President Winterstein at the White Coat Ceremony for AOM students

Dia Pfleger is a married mom with five wonderful children. She has also worked well pursuing her studies at NUHS. In Dia's words: "I became interested in alternative medicine three years ago when my son Mykael, now age six, was diagnosed with severe/ADHD autism. My interest also led to my career change from a corporate human resource manager for the past 10 years to pursing my master's degree in AOM."

In addition to being a busy mom and career woman, Dia is involved with many volunteer activities, and is also pursuing additional degrees and certifications. I hope you find Dia and her writing as motivating and insightful as I do! I have known Dia since her first trimester at NUHS and have felt inspired by her from the first day we met!

From Dia's perspective, "I have always believed that one person can make a positive impact in another person's life, but we first must begin with our 'self.' " I hope you take the time to read Dia's weekly blogs starting in January. I believe Dia has a lot of wisdom and awareness to share!

Petition for Change

Dia recently wrote a very interesting article regarding making acupuncture an essential health benefit. Since this week is election week, I thought it was very pertinent to share her thoughts. Since she wrote it, some changes have occurred to the change.org website. You may find additional information about acupuncture as an essential health benefit at http://aaaom.rallycongress.com/5887/acupuncture-as-an-essential-health-benefit-public-input/. You may also sign the petition to help make acupuncture an essential health benefit via a link on this AAAOM website.

Dia wrote:

The Future of AOM May Be Threatened In Illinois

It rings true that one person can make a difference and we can make a difference here at NUHS. There are many issues active right now that are dramatically threatening the future of acupuncture practice in Illinois and nationally. The top topics that may have a future impact on AOM students and current AOM practitioners in Illinois are:restrictive dietician laws that could influence your ability to practice herbal medicine and give nutritional advice based on traditional Chinese medicine.The third topic in Illinois is the process of determining which services will be included as Essential Health Benefits under the state's insurance exchange. Acupuncture and licensed acupuncturist services immediately fall under the following 10 ten categories of ACA health benefits: ambulatory patient services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, rehabilitative and habilitative services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, and pediatric services.I want to note that this petition regarding the state's insurance exchange will be presented to Governor Quinn and the Health Care Reform Implementation Council if we areable to generate more signatures.

Recently, organizations like the ILAOM are currently working to oppose this bill and also include Acupuncture and Licensed Acupuncturist services as EHB's in Illinois' Essential Health Benefits (EHB) Benchmark plan. If you have not already, please take a look at the petition below from our partner, the National Health Freedom Coalition, and sign and share. (Information provided below)

I want to encourage students and faculty to sign the online petition and write to the National Freedom Coalition. It only takes one person to make a difference and there is strength in numbers to oppose this bill. Acupuncture as an Essential Health Benefit: The petition has reached over 1,000 signatures and we need 3,800 more signatures!

PLEASE SHARE AND SIGN! We want to show the legislature how Illinois citizens feel about this issue. See https://www.change.org/petitions/acupuncture-as-an-essential-health-benefit-in-illinois (works best on Safari and Firefox). 

Action Needed in Illinois
Oppose Senate Bill 2936 as written and
request health freedom exemption amendment!

OPPOSE and AMEND Illinois S.B. 2936, the Illinois Dietitian Licensing bill! Illinois' current monopolistic dietitian law is scheduled to be automatically repealed in 2013 and Senate Bill 2936, introduced in 2012, is attempting to extend the law until 2023. The Illinois Dietitian and Nutrition Services law is one of the most restrictive monopolistic dietitian laws in the U.S. and needs to be repealed.

National Health Freedom Coalition
PMD 218
2136 Ford Parkway
St. Paul, MN 55116-1863
507-663-9018
http://www.nationalhealthfreedom.org/

Bloodletting

As explained last week, gua sha is a form of AOM treatment that primarily creates bleeding subcutaneously to aid in the moving and release of many types of pathogens. This week, I'm blogging about another blood related therapy, bloodletting, which purposefully causes the patient to bleed to release pathogens. This may seem a bit horrific, but it rarely hurts and offers significant healing benefits.  

Bloodletting is an ancient form of AOM treatment. It produces one or many punctures to the skin allowing blood to be released. The discharge of blood releases pathogens such as trauma, heat, cold, stagnation, and deficiency (under certain conditions). Bloodletting improves circulation and qi flow in addition to many other benefits.

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There are many forms of bloodletting. One form of bloodletting includes using either an acupuncture needle or a lancet to puncture the skin. Upon extraction of the needle, bleeding occurs (as pictured on the finger). At times, bleeding occurs naturally after needle extraction. If bloodletting is indicated, but does not occur naturally, the practitioner may apply pressure to aid in the discharge of blood. This form of bloodletting is indicated for many conditions. Some conditions include heat rash, common cold, respiratory illness, GI pathology, mental or emotional disorder, and more.

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Another form of bloodletting occurs from using a plum blossom (pictured) or seven start tool. The patient's skin is quickly pricked repeatedly using the tool. While the tool looks like something out of a medieval movie, this procedure is often painless. Most patients have reported feeling a tapping or tickling sensation. After the repeated pricks, a small amount of bleeding often occurs. This therapy is useful for many conditions. I have seen it used most for trauma and reducing hypertension.

The last form of bloodletting I'm going to discuss is bloodletting through cupping. As discussed in previous blogs, traditionally cupping uses glass cups that are heated momentarily with fire to create suction on the patient's body. The fire is placed momentarily into the cup using a hemostat and cotton ball. The fire is removed quickly and the cup is placed on the body. The temporary heating of the cup creates a vacuum on the body.

Cupping can be transitioned into bloodletting in several ways. One way is to apply acupuncture to the patient, often on the patient's back. After needle extraction, cups are applied.  A second option is to plum blossom the area first, instead of using acupuncture needles. The vacuum from the cups draws blood to the surface.

Clinically, I have found areas of the body that contain acupuncture points most related to the patient's diagnosis manifest with the most productive bloodletting. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with excess stomach heat, the fire point on the stomach channel typically discharges the most blood. By releasing the blood, the body is clearing the excess heat.

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Above is a picture of a patient's back showing the result of bloodletting through cupping. The patient had acupuncture needles extracted in all areas where cups had been placed. The red circles indicate where the cups had been placed. The cups create sha, much like gua sha. The patient bled in the region of the point that mostly pertained to the patient's diagnosis. The patient reported feeling much better post treatment.

Welcome New Stroger Residents

This trimester, two new NUHS students joined the team at Stroger's Hospital. NUHS students Dong Ming Sung and Asim Kamal became rotating residents at Stroger's hospital this trimester. These students bring a strong skill set and knowledge base to the team.

Both students feel this opportunity is a cornerstone in their educational career. "I think this is real world experience," Dong Ming stated. "It is similar to what career life will be after I graduate. Every student in our school should participate in this great opportunity. I really appreciate that Dr. Frank Yurasek is giving us this great opportunity!"

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Dong Ming Sung, Asim Kamal, and myself

I fully agree with Dong Ming. I believe we are privileged to experience many unique patient interactions at Stroger's. We are fortunate to introduce AOM to many patients who have never experienced it. Additionally, these patients are experiencing remarkable results with the addition of AOM treatments.

This trimester, we have worked together at Stroger's for three weeks. We have already been taught many new skills and tools from working with our patients. Our clinician, Frank Yurasek, PhD (China), LAc, continuously shares knowledge and skills we haven't learned elsewhere. The learning that occurs during this residency is so rich. Many of the AOM residents feel the knowledge we gain during our time at Stroger's seems equivalent to taking many additional educational seminars. At times, we learn AOM techniques and information we hadn't even imagined were possible. This residency adds a new depth, perception, and application of AOM.