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
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
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.
This week marks another end to an NUHS trimester! As I've
blogged previously, this is a time of endings and beginnings. Many
classmates are preparing for the fall trimester. Some students are
graduating. Others are deciding to begin a new adventure as an NUHS
One event that happens near the end of every trimester is our
clinic lottery. This is the time we sign up for our upcoming clinic
shifts. It's called a lottery as it is based on seniority and
chance. Groups divided by seniority enter the clinic room. Then, we
draw numbers to sign up for our clinic shifts. Being a senior
intern, this is a fun social time for me.
Signing up for the clinic shifts lottery.
When I began at NUHS, the AOM student population was small. It
has grown significantly over the past couple of years. It continues
to expand each trimester. As a result, I think the lottery can be a
time of luck and chance for the new students in determining their
Looking back at this past trimester, I think I experienced a
great deal of education in class and clinically. The experiences I
had at Stroger Hospital were priceless. I feel the patient
interactions along with advancements in my clinical knowledge
exceeded my expectations. Being a rotating resident at Stroger's
offers a new depth of understanding in patient care and application
of AOM. I am thankful to be invited to continue this opportunity
Swans and their cygnets on campus.
I also experienced many increases in responsibilities in my home
life. I was stretched by many circumstances. These circumstances
helped me learn how to further balance being a student,
resident/intern, mom, and more. I find it fascinating that some how
everything always comes together. It seems the heaviest weight when
trying to balance home life and school is my perception that they
will be hard to balance. As I learned in Tai Chi, once I relax into
the flow of events, everything comes together. It's when I resist
or worry about them that stress prevails. So, much like "push
hands," a Tai Chi exercise, when I relax into the flow everything
balances each other.
Thank you for reading my blog each week! I look forward to
sharing more with you next trimester!!!
One of the unique opportunities that NUHS offers its AOM
students is a rotating residency at Cook County's Stroger Hospital
AOM students in their final trimester have the ability to be on
the cutting edge of research and hospital treatment by being a
rotating resident at Stroger. The residency brings AOM students
into the hospital's pain clinic. Currently, residents work under
clinician, Frank Yurasek, PhD, MSOM, and along with Jackie, a nurse
in the pain clinic.
Dr. Frank Yurasek and Pain Clinic Nurse Jackie
By performing this residency, seniors have the opportunity to
learn many avenues for treating pain through AOM, generally not
taught in textbooks. Patients typically experience a profound
effect after receiving AOM treatments at Stroger's pain clinic.
Many times, pain initially rated as 10/10 on the VAS pain scale
drops down to 4 or less after receiving an AOM treatment.
Additionally, most patients' pain continues to stay reduced from
its original level between appointments.
During a typical day at the pain clinic, a resident will see
6-10 patients during 4 hours. Since that is a significant amount of
patients for an AOM resident in a short amount of time, the
resident often treats patients using one of the microsystems of the
body. In AOM, there are various regions on the body, such as the
ear, that are able to treat the entire body. By understanding the
mapping and function of these systems, residents are able to treat
conditions such as low back pain, sciatica and knee pain by using
needles or ear seeds in the patient's ear. Ear seeds are little
beads that stick onto the ear and work as pressure points. The
scalp is another region of the body that is a microsystem with the
ability to treat the whole body.
Me, Dr. Yurasek, and Mary Thuermer
Since I feel this program at Stroger is an incredible learning
opportunity, I will be blogging about it more often. I think it
teaches many things, such as sometimes the quickest and easiest
treatments can make the most profound impact when treating pain
Happy Belated Mother's Day to all Moms!!! I hope you had a
very special and relaxing weekend! Hopefully you had a day of
relaxation, or at least moments of the day were filled with
In addition to celebrating Mother's Day this weekend, classes
started for the new trimester this past week.
personally consider both the start and the end of each
trimester a mini-celebration, as each segment of time shows the
beginning or end to another chapter of learning.
This week I was able to see the affects of acupuncture on pain
patients very clearly. While I was fortunate to be a part of
treating many pain patients, one patient agreed to share her
treatment with this blog. This patient is a 61-year-old female
who injured her foot. She may have broken 1-2 toes, but had
not received X-rays at the time of her treatment. (Notice
bruising on center toe.) It was decided to treat the foot distally,
which means far away from her foot. One of the most conducive
aspects of acupuncture is there are many ways to treat one
pathology. If it's decided treating locally is not the best
option, there are still many more options for treatment.
In this case, treating the patient's foot via auricular
acupuncture was determined to be the best option. The patient
received five needles in the ear on the same side as the injured
foot. She received a needle in the following auricular points:
toes, lumber, shenmen, point zero, and kidney. These points
help to reduce the pain, while also helping the patient feel
relaxed. Additionally, they help treat the patient's root
energy, which will greater exacerbate a healing response.
The patient reported feeling a remarkable decrease in foot and
back pain. The patient had a previous back injury worsened by
the change in her gait (walk) as a result of the foot injury.
Before receiving acupuncture, the patient rated the pain as a 6/10
on the VAS pain scale, 10 being measured as the worst pain
possible. After the treatment, the patient rated her pain as
2/10. I followed up the treatment with auricular seeds; they are
small metal beads that stick on the patient's ear. Ear seeds
are a form of acupressure that allow for continued treatment after
the patient leaves the clinic. By pushing on the ear seeds,
the patient triggers a healing and analgesic (feel-good and pain
reducing) response. The analgesic response is much like taking
pain medicine to decrease the pain. I will learn at the
patient's follow-up visit, how the ear seeds affected
I find observing pain patients' responses fascinating, as
usually through about 5 needles, the patients have a significant
decrease in pain that typically holds through the follow-up
visit. This is something I could never imagined possible
before becoming a student of AOM!
This past week, I had the opportunity to present my dad as a
case study for my Senior Seminar II class. It turned out to be a
Before he came to class, I performed an intake and case history
with him. I learned that when working with family, it was a little
difficult to stay objective, as I know him well, so I had a
different perception of certain things than he. With a patient at
clinic, there is usually no outside reference point, so the
information being given is the only information the intern and
clinician learn. With family, we know what they eat, their health
history and their moods, but their perception and ours are not
always the same. I think I was supposed to let the patient be right
in this case, but since it was my dad, I found an area of grey for
us both to agree on when we saw things a little differently. I
think this was a great learning opportunity for us both.
When my dad came to the clinic, it was an interesting experience
to step back and listen to the clinician and other intern ask him
further questions and gather additional information. It was both
difficult and motivating to see my dad fully as a patient at the
clinic. Since he is my dad, I have always looked up to him, but at
the same time, would do anything for him.
Once we decided on a treatment plan, we advised my dad to go
into the treatment room and prepare for his treatment. He was a
very cooperative patient. He is rather needle-sensitive and very
in-tune to the "qi sensation" (energetic response of the needles),
but handled it very well. He informed us of how he was feeling
during the needling aspect of the treatment once we had placed all
the needles. I felt this brought an added educational benefit.
My dad reported a positive response to the treatment. He
continued to feel the benefits of the treatment the following days.
In addition to my dad's benefits and the educational aspects of
this case study, this felt like a bit of a milestone somehow for my
dad and me. It felt a bit peculiar at times to have our roles
shifted as patient and intern, but at the same time, it felt like
something expanded between us by doing so. If you have read my
previous blog from last trimester, you know that my dad and I are
very close and he joined me at the AOM pinning ceremony. Having a
moment in time where we were patient and intern instead of dad and
daughter was rather intriguing.
From the start of the second trimester, NUHS clinic plays a
large role in facilitating our education. Clinic offers us the
ability to understand and apply what we are learning in the
classrooms. It also teaches us patient care. Most of all, it allows
us first-hand interaction with our patients, our biggest teachers.
I have referred to clinic in many blogs, as it is personally my
favorite part of the program. Of course we could not be in clinic
without the classes teaching us AOM, but the clinical interaction
is so meaningful to me. It's a chance to bring everything we learn
and use it while having our patients teach us how it affects
While in clinic, students are very focused on the care of their
patients. This offers the opportunity to do extra research on a
case-by-case situation. This is a very valid method for us to
expand our understanding of specific conventional medicine and AOM
diagnosis and treatment plans. We have rooms where we are able to
work on our research and charts, allowing a thorough understanding
of our patient and their care.
We have a clinician room that we use for every patient. Hui Yan
Cai, PhD, MD (China) is pictured in it in this blog.
When a patient arrives, the intern enters the room and performs
an intake. From that information and previous research for ongoing
patients, the intern meets with the clinician in the clinician's
office. Then, the clinician also performs a short intake on the
patient. Through this interaction, the intern and clinician
formulate a treatment plan.
Once the clinician has seen the patient, the intern is able to
begin the treatment. Just as the intake portion builds on the
intern's knowledge base, much learning occurs during the treatment
aspect of the appointment. This portion allows the intern
first-hand experience to comprehend the impact and reaction of the
intern's application of AOM.
In this week's pictures, several observers and interns are shown
working on clinical work. In clinic there are observers who observe
every aspect of clinic. They also play a crucial role in keeping
the area clean during the clinic shift. Once a student moves from
observer to intern, they begin treating patients.
I feel NUHS' clinical setting is one of our greatest learning
opportunities. I think most of the students feel this way, as
A patient I've been treating for a shoulder injury agreed to
allow me to share her acupuncture experiences.
About six months ago, the patient experienced a work injury
causing a shoulder trauma. The final result was an internal
tear and bursitis. She received conventional medical care and AOM
treatments of acupuncture and herbs. She felt the AOM treatments
decreased the pain and increased her range of motion
Eventually, the patient decided to have surgery, as everyone
thought it was in her best interest. Three weeks after her surgery,
she had another shoulder tear, but in a different location. Surgery
was not an option and her MD recommended she receive AOM treatments
again to aid in healing, range of motion and decrease the pain.
The patient has been receiving these acupuncture treatments on a
non-routine basis for her shoulder injury here at NUHS for over 6
months and reports positive results. She lives out-of-state, so she
only receives treatments when she is able to travel to Illinois,
per her choice. She says she feels most comfortable receiving
acupuncture treatments at the NUHS clinic and is not interested in
going elsewhere for her AOM care.
I have included a picture of an NUHS clinic room to help
this patient's experience more vivid for you as you
In the pictures, some of the acupuncture points are shown. Two
very important points are her local shoulder points, jian qian and
LI15. These points have been painful for the patient. Each time
they are needled, the patient has a different tolerance level for
them, and for the depth she can handle them being placed. She also
has a range in her tolerance of the ability to handle them being
Manipulated means moving the needles around to help stimulate qi
and blood flow. This helps create an immune response to aid in the
healing process. These points are partnered with several other
distal points, points further away from her shoulder. Only a couple
distal points are pictured. All this points work as a union to
create a healing effect. An example of a distal point is liver 3,
the point needle on her foot. This point helps move the qi and
works very well when partnered with other points in her treatment
In addition to her acupuncture treatments, she has been
recommended to take an herbal formula that is pictured. This
formula, Jian zhou tong pian, is specific for treating bodily
trauma. It helps the tissue repair itself.
So far, the treatments have been reported as successful by the
patient. She has reported a decrease in her pain level. She reports
this pain relief lasts well after the end of the treatments. Since
she has recently restarted her AOM treatment plan, her range of
motion has not been reevaluated. I have a positive prognosis for
her since she is having instant results shown by her rapid decrease
in pain level.
• What is AOM?
• PTSD Clinic for Veterans
• Pedatric AOM
• Learning Through Clinic
• Journey into AOM
• Hospital Residency
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