Archive for tag: faculty

ILaaom Asian Moon Festival Dinner

On Sunday night, Sept. 23, ILaaom had its annual Asian Moon Festival dinner. ILaaom is the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

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ILaaom is the oldest state organization representing practitioners of Oriental Medicine. They were founded with five distinct missions, which can be read about at http://ilaaom.org/index.php/mission-statement. ILaaom is a strong advocate for AOM practitioners. They are rooted in causes concerning legislation, the philosophy, science, and art of AOM. ILaaom is a wealth of information for both students and professionals of AOM. In my opinion, it is very important for anyone involved with the Illinois practice of AOM to be a member of ILaaom.

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Many professionals and students attended the ILaaom Asian Moon Festival dinner. Some of the attendees included NUHS staff and students: Professor Hui Yan Cai, MD (China), PhD (China), LAc; Instructor Robin Fan, MD (China), LAc; Chief Clinician Hyundo Kim, PhD (Korea), MSOM, LAc; Asistant Professor Yihyun Kwon, PhD (China), DC, MSOM, LAc; Assistant Dean of AOM Frank Yurasek, PhD (China), MSOM, LAc, vice president of ILaaom, and several NUHS students.

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During the event, many AOM students and professionals had the ability to meet and share information.  Several speakers spoke during the dinner including David Miller, MD, FAAP, LAc, Dipl. OM, legislative director of ILaaom and Kirk Moulton, Dipl. Ac, CA. Dr. Miller spoke about current legislative events and volunteer opportunities. Kirk spoke about the ongoing mission to help bring medical relief to those in Tibet. Information and ways to participate in the relief effort can be found at http://www.raktrul.org/medical_missions.html.

In addition to gaining a wealth of knowledge and awareness during this ILaaom event, attendees also enjoyed a delicious dinner provided by the Phoenix restaurant in Chinatown. After the dinner, ILaaom presented raffle winnings for scholarships to three students along with drawings for a silent auction.

This was a wonderful event to attend. But this was only one night. Being a member of ILaaom is a great benefit that offers much unity in our profession.

Weekend Herbal Seminar

Welcome to all the new NUHS students! I hope you had a wonderful first week of classes.  Also, welcome back to all the returning NUHS students! 

For me, this is the start of my final trimester for my MSOM. I am filled with anticipation and excitement to see what this trimester will bring. This trimester, I am taking my boards and exit exam in addition to completing my classes for my MSOM.  

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NUHS faculty member HB Kim

For many upper trimester MSOM degree (herbal) students, this weekend was the beginning of HB Kim's Herbal Treatment Strategy seminar. I blogged about HB Kim, LAc, and his accomplishments a few trimesters ago. He is the author of several books used by the AOM students at NUHS. He has two seminars offered in the NUHS AOM curriculum. One seminar is Acupuncture Treatment Strategies (blogged about previously) and the Herbal Treatment Strategy seminar. These seminars are crucial for furthering students' knowledge and understanding on acupuncture and herbs. HB Kim has a gift for helping students build on the knowledge already gathered. He helps us advance what we have already learned and built upon, prepares us for board exams and expands our clinical knowledge. I believe his seminars are instrumental for preparing us for board exams. 

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Most herbal students have been looking forward to this seminar since the beginning of the herbal part of the NUHS program. As the pictures illustrate, everyone is in a pleasant mood and happy to be participating in this seminar. Through the intellect of HB Kim, we are being taught the intricate details of single herbs and herbal formulas. Chinese herbs are written in pinyin, Latin, and English. The way Chinese herbs are used and administered is very different from biomedical pharmaceuticals. That stated, many students have felt overwhelmed and intimidated by learning Chinese herbs during some point of their education. I can think of two distinct moments I strongly contemplated dropping herbs from my degree. I am very thankful I decided against that idea.  

In my opinion, Chinese herbs are instrumental in aiding the patients' health and progress. There are many conditions that the combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture can successfully treat. The advancement in the patients' well being often happens rather quickly when herbs and acupuncture are combined. Additionally, herbs and acupuncture are able to restore well being to some conditions that biomedicine is unable to affect or takes a long process of taking biomedical prescriptions.  

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Being in this seminar is aiding me, and all of the students, in how to further compartmentalize and deeply understand the usage and theory of herbs. It feels very satisfying to be participating in this seminar with my peers, especially given the struggles most students experienced initially in the herbal classes.

The Beauty of Now

Recently, one of my clinicians, Dr. Frank Yurasek, was having a rather powerful discussion with me regarding living in the "Now" and how it relates to patient care. He quoted a wise author Eckhart Tolle, who wrote Realizing the Power of Now. Dr Yurasek quoted a passage from Tolle's book that I will paraphrase: Our frustrations derive from living in the past, our anxiety derives from living in the future, and thus the only place to be living is in the now. Seems easy, but as many can relate, many of us have a foot in yesterday and a foot in tomorrow, forgetting to stand in today.

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Clinically, I have found this to be very true with patients. Many cling to the life disruptions that have brought them into patient care, or the fears of what's to come as a result of current circumstances. I am learning it is sometimes equally hard to help a patient let go of the belief system that is keeping them sick, not just helping their bodies heal.

Through acupuncture, we have points to help ground, as I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. We have points and herbs to help the physical body heal, points to help create mental shifts, and so on. But, from my perception, these points work best in tandem with the patient; the patient has to be ready to let go of the disease or illness and ready to step into the present moment.

This doesn't mean that if the patient doesn't heal, they are preventing it. What I mean is the healthiest responses I've seen and been educated about are the ones where the patient let's go of attachment to the disease or illness and its possible outcomes, and becomes more attached to the richness of the present moment. I've watched patients experiencing chemotherapy truly living and enjoying life to the fullest. These patients are free from emotional pains of all they have already experienced and are not worried about what tomorrow brings. These patients never let cancer define them. They let themselves define their lives, not their circumstances. These patients constantly remind me how important the present moment is and to stop living for tomorrow or yesterday.

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I know for myself, I seem to have constant radar up doing my best to keep myself in the present moment. Often on my free time, my mind will instantly jump to a paper I need to write, or dishes that need to be done, or some other form of responsibility I am putting upon myself. But, what I realize and remind myself of in those moments is nothing is more important than what I am doing in the present moment. Those other responsibilities will still be there and will be accomplished at the appropriate time.

I think our minds use living in the past or future as a form of procrastination from living in the present moment. If we place ourselves into a different aspect of time, we don't have to experience what is in front of us in real time. The thing I have come to learn, though, is there is little that compares with being fully in the moment and experiencing all it holds. Sometimes it's blissful, and sometimes it's filled with heartache. But those feelings are all part of here and now, allowing us to choose who and how we desire to be in this exact moment of time. 

Rightfully so, I think we as students and our patients often have fears and worries driving us to be anywhere but in the present moment. As a result, many of us proceed on autopilot and miss out on so much of life's journey. We push through circumstances that are rough in an effort for tomorrow to be better. Or, we miss out on the momentary bliss because we are stuck in pains of the past. All of this is justifiable and can be a reasonable way to live; I think it is just a less fulfilling way of life when the present moment holds so many gifts and wonders. 

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Dr. Yurasek also shared with me a theory of living a purpose directed life versus an emotionally directed life. I think this is like a lock and key to bridging living in the present while knowing you're on a path for your future. Living a purpose directed life helps prevent the anxiety about the future, as it assures us that what we are doing in the present moment will support us tomorrow. I feel listening to our emotions in each moment as guideposts to direct us is key if what we are doing is on course with our purpose. But, being driven by emotions from the past and fears of the future will never lead us to the tomorrow were dreaming of, or most importantly, the fullness of today.

Years ago I saw the comic Family Circle and it said something to this effect--yesterday is called the past because it's gone, tomorrow is called the future because it's not here yet, today is called the present because it is a gift. This has always stuck with me and feels so true!

With the beautiful weather this month, I've been spending as much time as possible outdoors. The recent blooming of the flowers reminds me if we allow things to be in the present and let nature run its course, many times, beauty will result. We don't have to think about these flowers in December for them to blossom today, they just happen naturally in their perfect time.

PTSD Clinic for Veterans

A wonderful attribute of oriental medicine (OM) is its ability to affect many people, disorders and diseases. Many times, OM's treatments and results can be administered and experienced in a quick and effective manner. While instant results such as a reduction in symptoms are rather common, for chronic conditions long term treatment is needed many times to help bring healing to the root of the disorder.

A strong example of this is the use of OM in "At Ease," NUHS' free veteran's post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) clinic. The PTSD clinic serves veterans that have given our country and us so much of themselves, and as a result, are carrying wounds within themselves from the battles they fought. Often, they receive the OM treatments as an adjunct treatment to other therapies they are receiving outside of the NUHS clinic.

Through the application of acupuncture, primarily auricular acupuncture, these veterans are able to receive some relief in their PTSD symptoms. A common procedure in the PTSD clinic is for the patient to receive five acupuncture needles in each ear. It is believed that these needles work directly with neurotransmitters in the brain, much like pharmaceuticals, helping to reduce stress, blood pressure, and decrease the psychological symptoms PTSD creates. It has been seen and reported that the combination of OM alongside other prescribed treatments greatly improves the quality of life for veterans suffering from PTSD.  

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Dr. Frank Yurasek

This clinic was created by Frank Yurasek, PhD, MSOM, (shown above), who is also very involved in the Wounded Warrior Project and Bethesda Naval Hospital. Dr. Yurasek has found OM therapies, ranging from auricular acupuncture to medical Qi Gong, have a profound impact on veterans experiencing PTSD. He has been researching and applying his research to this field for many years. As a result, he brings a vast amount of knowledge and first-hand experience to each patient. In addition to his skills and knowledge, it is apparent that he genuinely cares about each and every patient in the clinic. Dr. Yurasek's compassion runs just as rich as his knowledge base.

I am fortunate to have started interning this trimester with Dr. Yurasek in the PTSD clinic. I have always held great honor and esteem for those in the military and feel extremely grateful to have this opportunity to work with them. I feel very encouraged for each patient as I watch the promising results I see during each treatment. While I am not aware of any instant cure for PTSD, I think it is reassuring to know there is much more patients can do to find their way out of the disorder then they may have realized before. 

I encourage those of you reading this blog to share the PTSD clinic information with those you know. From what I am learning, many veterans go years without receiving help, or enough help for PTSD. This greatly decreases their quality of life, and of those they care for and love. We would be honored to have them come to our free PTSD clinic and help them to the best of our abilities!

Life's Journey

It seems right now is a time of growth, both universally, and on the NUHS campus. Since the start of this trimester, we have lost two amazing members of NUHS life. 

We lost Zandie, a naturopathic student, who touched many lives. This is evident as everyone who knew her speaks of her with loving memories. Miravone, one of our other bloggers, has written about the wonderful legacy Zandie lived, which you may want to read (see: "One of Our Own," "Saying Goodbye") . I think you will be inspired by the life Zandie lived. Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of knowing Zandie. Her death caused much sadness in the student body and the faculty. 

Then, last Tuesday, we were informed that a member of NUHS faculty, Dr. Shellee Handley, was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. I did not know Dr. Handley either, but have heard story upon story of how wonderful she was and the remarkable life she lived. Again, sadness was felt by everyone at the university. Many faculty members expressed difficulty moving through the day due to the shock and grief of the loss of Dr. Handley. 

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While small in comparison, I experienced some unsettling shocks in my personal life. On Monday, I experienced a surprising and abrupt end to an 11-year friendship--this was my best friend. Then, on Wednesday, a very close family member of mine had a serious medical emergency and had to be admitted into the hospital. Fortunately, he has been discharged and is recovering well. As you may guess, school and studying were pushed to the side by late Wednesday night. It took me until Friday to regain much time and attention to be able to study.

All these events caused me to evaluate my life, where I am at and where I am going. I thought about these, and other deep interpersonal questions, which often leads one to choose to make life-changing choices such as becoming a student or making some other form of life change. While there are a few things I would like to change if I had the option, overall, I realize everything is perfect as it is for my family and me. 

While I originally began my MSOM solely for the purpose of helping others, I realize more and more how the journey is helping and teaching me much more than only on a scholastic level. As I wrote last week, being a student at NUHS teaches me how to better prioritize and manage my time. Interning in the clinic is teaching me patient care, of course, but on a personal level, it reminds me every day how precious life is and to always treasure it.

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The recent NUHS tragedies and my personal experiences further remind me that we do not know what each day brings. Today is the day to pursue my dreams, bring as much goodness into this world as I am capable, and live my life to its fullest. I'm learning that living my life to its fullest does not mean something grandiose. It simply means being the best person I can be and applying my abilities in the best possible ways. For me, two of these abilities are becoming an acupuncturist and herbologist. These roles bring much joy into my life and hopefully much benefit into others' lives, also!

The blog pictures I chose this week are of flowers from Hawaii. My sister and brother-in-law are vacationing in Hawaii right now. It was interesting to be in the midst of what felt like chaos at times, and to look down at my phone and see these beautiful photographs.  It reminded me of something my mom often tells me, "It all depends where you are in the circle." My mom is a retired nursing professor and has always taught me that perspective. I have found her wisdom is a necessity when administering patient care, as well as self-care. 

Fall Trimester

It's an intriguing time of year at NUHS right now; it is the beginning of another fall trimester. The campus is filled with a combination of new students, current students, and current students in their last trimester. Together, all these students create an energizing, exciting buzz felt throughout the campus. 

If you walk around NUHS, you will find the library beginning to fill, you will see students sorting through books as they look over their schedules, and you'll here chatter about classes and anticipation as to what this trimester will bring.

As for myself, and many students, I'm eager to return to NUHS and ready to begin this new trimester. I feel rejuvenated from my break and ready to dive into more learning.

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My fellow AOM students.

My week started out treating patients at the NUHS clinic--my favorite way to begin the week! One of my favorite aspects of the AOM program is the NUHS clinic. I thoroughly enjoy treating patients and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn in a clinical setting. The first week returning to clinic is usually busy and this week followed suit. I prefer it busy, as it allows more patients to receive help and allows me, as well as all the clinic students, to learn more. The more clinic patients we have, the more we help and learn! 

While clinic was very rewarding, so were all of my classes. I have many diverse classes this trimester, all of which seem interesting. A nice aspect about being in a graduate program is most, if not all of the students in the program including myself, have a passion for their field of study. AOM students generally love being in class and learning new AOM material. This causes our classes to have a very pleasant and inviting environment, aiding in learning the material. 

While it is wonderful to be surrounded in a cohort that has a passion for AOM, it is equally important that our professors love what they are teaching us, and from what I can gather, they do! Each professor brings a unique set of experiences and knowledge base to our classes, which greatly benefits us. They teach us textual material, and then follow it with clinical and practical knowledge causing it to have a deeper impact in our understanding. This helps us further our understanding of AOM and promotes our ability to apply what we learn in class into our clinic shifts. I find myself looking forward to each class, which is a nice feeling!