Archive for tag: alumni

Getting Down to Business

This week the AOM Student Association held its speaker event. Every trimester speakers are invited to come present to students from the AOM program and any other NUHS students interested in attending. This trimester they invited NUHS alumnae Barry Hinman (MSAc '09) and Kathi Wotal (MSOM '13), to present on "How to Start an Acupuncture Practice and Work with Insurance."

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Their presentation was fantastic; they shared the trials and tribulations they experienced starting their practices, as well as insider tips on everything from marketing and insurance to social media and logo design. AOMSA couldn't have found better speakers for the topic -- they're both insightful, detail-oriented, have had broad work and life experiences, are dedicated to their practices, and devoted to their healing professions. I'm very grateful that they took the time to put such a nice presentation together!


Finals are coming up and I'm once again up to my ears in studying and working on final assignments for all my herbal seminars. In spite of my anxiety with trying to regurgitate so much info in such a short period of time, I am excited to have an herb-only shift in clinic next trimester! Yes, I get to dedicate one of my clinic shifts to putting together patient formulas! As interns we don't usually have the time to dedicate to putting together formulas, so this shift is really key to learning them well and getting used to doing formulas on our own. Eek!


Amidst all the chaos of finals, the AOM program will be getting the first glimpse into ATHENA, the new electronic records system being implemented in the clinic. After months of waiting, the days of writing SOAP notes are now over! We still compile the general SOAP information, but will no longer have to suffer from carpal tunnel after speed-writing 4 patient notes in a shift or worry about crossing out and initialing errors or writing addendums. The DC and ND programs will also start using the system in the coming weeks.

Living and Breathing NUHS

After last weekend's Cosmetic Acupuncture seminar and a 12-day stretch of classes and clinic without a day off, I thought that I would go back to a normal schedule this week and have the weekend off for rest. That didn't happen as I made last minute plans to serve as a panelist for the AOM program for Saturday's Campus Visit Day and to attend a seminar on Sunday taught by AOM faculty member Dr. Yu Zhu.


It was great to serve as a panelist for Campus Visit Day with recent NUHS MSAc graduates/current ND program students Megan Borreson and Sarah Fiedler. It's always good to hear graduates' perspectives on what aspects of the program have been most impactful on their professional careers and how they think attending National was beneficial to them.

Sunday's seminar titled, "Advanced Acupuncture Techniques" was part of the Advanced Topics in Acupuncture courses offered through the Lincoln College of Postprofessional, Graduate and Continuing Education. These seminars are offered for students, faculty and practitioners in Illinois and are held each weekend at National. I didn't know about the courses until Dr. Zhu notified our Acupuncture Seminar 2 class about her upcoming course (It turns out that other AOM students hadn't heard about the seminars either). I enjoy Dr. Zhu's teaching style -- I have mentioned her Seminar 2 class in previous blog posts, and have been searching for opportunities outside of school to learn needling techniques so I was excited to register for the course and forego a weekend off.


The seminar had a good turnout with a few AOM students and faculty attending, as well as TCM practitioners from the community. Dr. Zhu spoke briefly about the history of needling techniques, and then went into further detail about the different schools of needling, needle selection, and techniques to get and manipulate qi.

In the latter half of the course, she demonstrated some of these techniques on participants with chief complaints of frozen shoulder, neck stiffness, ear congestion, and decreased visual acuity. In her demonstrations, she used one single needle and employed a combination of the needling techniques we had learned, usually involving about 5 minutes of continuous needle manipulation. It was incredible to witness the person that was getting treated describe where they felt the qi moving through the body as the needle was manipulated.

For example, Dr. Zhu wanted to address the complaint of vision loss by needling Gall Bladder 20 (which is lateral to the external occipital protuberance bilaterally). Using her needle technique, she was able to create a warming sensation that slowly moved over the back of the head to the opposite eye. After the needle was removed, the warm sensation was retained and our volunteer subject, Dr. Robin Fan, NUHS' Acupuncture and Clean Needle Technique instructor, reported that her vision was clearer on that side. One needle magic!

I don't know if I'll ever attain that level of needling skill, but I look forward to trying the techniques out in clinic!

Cosmetic Acupuncture - An Oxymoron?

This weekend I rounded out my 12-day stretch of classes and clinic with a Cosmetic Acupuncture seminar that was held all day Saturday on campus. Recent AOM graduate Shannon Glish coordinated with Dr. Joseph Carter of Eastern Carolina Medicine (he's also an NUHS postgrad faculty member) to have him return to teach the course for the second time in a year.

Cosmetic acupuncture or Facial Rejuvenation is growing in popularity. I signed up for the course to have another tool in my acupuncture toolkit -- a tool that can serve as a good income generator should I have difficulty paying the bills in my practice. Practitioners advertising cosmetic acupuncture treatments sometimes charge as much as $2,000 for a series of 10 treatments, or about $200 per visit. That might sound expensive, but the procedure takes longer than a typical acupuncture treatment and involves A LOT OF NEEDLES -- close to 50 on the face alone -- so the additional time and expense warrants a higher fee. The needles are much smaller and thinner than the needles that would be used in a regular acupuncture treatment and they are only inserted several millimeters deep, so it's not as painful as it sounds.


Patients who may have had adverse reactions to Botox, plastic surgery, chemical peels or laser treatments that are looking for a safer way to look younger and healthier might gravitate towards cosmetic acupuncture, as it has no side effects. It may seem antithetical to use acupuncture for cosmetic purposes since the purpose of oriental medicine is to treat the whole body and restore balance, but that idea made me think of a former teacher from Midwest College who said that cosmetic acupuncture treatments will still help with balancing, so you're actually helping someone who might otherwise never come in for regular acupuncture treatments to balance their body overall. Locally, cosmetic acupuncture works to increase collagen and elastin production, while increasing circulation to the area and relaxing muscle tone. It can "take 5-10 years off of your face" by eliminating fine lines, minimizing dark circles, sagging skin, drooping eyelids, and puffy eyes.

This weekend's seminar started with a short lecture after which we split into groups and practiced needling the points. All of the points were regular face, head and neck acupuncture points from the main or extraordinary meridians that we were familiar with as OM students. The real learning objective was creating triangles or groups of three needles that were perfectly inserted into each point. We had to do this using a little metal needle insertion device, which proved to be extremely challenging. Some students resorted to free-hand needling, as it was easier to control. Almost everyone experienced some bleeding on the points and some even had small bruises. I experienced a lot of pain in the points near the bridge of the nose and decided to take a break from being needled about 6 hours into the 8-hour session.


Dr. Carter ended the session by demonstrating treatments to enhance the neck, breast (on a male student), and abdominal muscle definition. A lot of students left the seminar feeling pretty drained after being poked for so long. I went home wondering if I'd ever subject a patient to such treatment.

The next day, I woke up and was surprised to find that my face looked different. Despite staying out late enjoying Mexican food and drinks and not really sleeping in two weeks because of midterms, I noticed that the skin around my forehead and eye areas was considerably tighter. Pretty remarkable considering that I only had about a quarter of the points needled due to my needle sensitivity. There was no bruising or pain and I realized that I was able to fall asleep easily (a rarity!) and I also slept deeper. I felt great overall.

I looked up whether bleeding and bruising was normal in cosmetic acupuncture and never found anything to indicate that it was. Which lead me to believe that the metal tool that we were using was probably too harsh to use on the face and that free-hand needling would be the way to go. A few of us decided that we would practice on each other and on our mothers in the clinic so that we can get our technique down by the time we graduate. Pretty excited to get started!