On Sunday night, Sept. 23, ILaaom had its annual Asian Moon
Festival dinner. ILaaom is the Illinois Association of Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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'
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.
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.
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
• What is AOM?
• PTSD Clinic for Veterans
• Pedatric AOM
• Learning Through Clinic
• Journey into AOM
• Hospital Residency
To read older blog posts, scroll to the bottom and click the "Older Posts" button.