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How Cadavers Help Train Better Acupuncturists
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How Cadavers Help Train Better Acupuncturists

nuhs interns aom research dr kwonNational University is one of only a few schools in the world with acupuncture and oriental medicine programs that incorporate the dissection of cadavers for acupuncture point and meridian studies.

The cadaver-based anatomy lab helps students get a three-dimensional understanding of the acupuncture points they will be needling on their future patients. Traditional methods for locating acupuncture points typically lean on palpation skills – feeling for landmarks on the surface of the body. Because palpation alone can be very subjective, modern acupuncture is leaning more toward exact point location based on anatomical structure.

Enhanced understanding of anatomy

In the lab, as students dissect the body through skin, superficial fascia, muscle and bone, they follow the point locations through each layer of tissue.

Students come away with a deeper understanding of all the anatomical structures their acupuncture needle is stimulating, and at which depths different tissue can be accessed by the needle. Seeing the structures firsthand also helps students avoid any risk of needling in the wrong place or at the wrong depth. This way, students are able to practice better point location skills after graduation.

Combining eastern and western philosophies

acupuncture meridian lines on male dummyNational University’s anatomy program is an ideal example of the productive integration of a western and eastern medical education.

The anatomy course was the first of its kind in the world when National University opened its two master’s degree programs in acupuncture and oriental medicine in 2006. After seeing the benefits of integrating the functional eastern perspective on acupuncture points with a western structural perspective, other universities in Asia have created new anatomy programs similar to National University. This includes TianJin University in China.

“Accepting western medicine does not hurt or contaminate our eastern medicine, but actually reinforces it and makes strong our weak points,” said Dr. Yihyun Kwon, who teaches anatomy to the university’s acupuncture and oriental medicine students.

Watch a video of Jacob Suh, an MSOM student, to see why he’s excited about learning anatomy from dissecting real human cadavers in the university’s gross anatomy laboratory, and how understanding the physiology and science behind oriental medicine gives him a greater perspective on patient care.