Follow-Up Interview with Modern Acupuncture

I had the pleasure of doing a follow up interview Michelle Grasek, author of Modern Acupuncture! Here I talk about my experience so far in private practice!

Full link: Acupuncture Student to New Practitioner

“Today I’m excited to chat with acupuncturist Danielle Dupell about her first year out in practice. Danielle  graduated in 2015 from Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture in Seneca Falls, NY. I interviewed Danielle when she was a third year acupuncture student, and I’m so excited to follow up with her now that she’s in practice. (Check out Danielle’s initial interview as a student here!)

Danielle opened Avenue Acupuncture in  her hometown of Plattsburgh, New York right after graduating with her Master’s of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine degree (MSAOM) in August 2015. Avenue Acupuncture is a bustling practice located in the ADK Wellness Alliance. In her free time Danielle enjoys cooking, exercising, reading, and spending quality time with her family.

Today Danielle shares with us:

  1. Which marketing efforts have worked for her so far, and which ones haven’t?
  2. Danielle’s top advice for current students.
  3. What one thing would Danielle do differently if she could start her practice over again?

(All photos were taken by Morgan Gordon and edited by James Montefuesco.)


HI DANIELLE! THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING BACK TO MODERN ACUPUNCTURE FOR A FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEW. LAST TIME WE TALKED, YOU WERE AN 8TH TRIMESTER (THIRD YEAR) ACUPUNCTURE STUDENT AT FLSAOMWITH ONE SEMESTER LEFT BEFORE GRADUATION. YOU GRADUATED LAST SUMMER, IN AUGUST OF 2015, AND HAVE BEEN IN PRIVATE PRACTICE FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS NOW. HOW DOES IT FEEL?

It feels absolutely amazing to be out in the real world in private practice. Seriously, school was a very difficult chapter in my life. I am happy that I’m done with school and actually out practicing. I’ve come to realize just how important it is to get a quality education as an acupuncturist. I realized quickly that FLSAOM has given me all the clinical tools I need to succeed and be a quality practitioner.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PRACTICE FOR US?

My practice is a small one in a very busy massage therapy clinic. I have two treatment rooms, a small office space, shared waiting room and shared bathroom. I am located in downtown Plattsburgh, New York (basically the most northern point in New York State without reaching Canada).

Currently I work five days per week and I am seeing 20-25 patients per week. This doesn’t quite equal five patients per day because I tend to be busier in the beginning part of the week. The most patients I’ll take in a day is eight to nine. Anything more than that tends to feel a little overwhelming. This amount of patients feels like a good number for me; I am able to pay my bills and still save a little bit of money.

I also don’t feel too overwhelmed although some days do feel slow. Sometimes (as strange as it sounds) I am thankful for those days because private practice involves a lot of other work besides treating patients. It’s nice to have that downtime to keep up with my books, order supplies, do research on cases, etc.

From Acupuncture Student to New Acupuncturist - A Follow-up Interview with Danielle Dupell. Danielle reveals what she's learned in her 1st year in practice, what she would do differently, and the marketing tactics that have worked best for her so far.

IN OUR INITIAL INTERVIEW, YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS. YOU SAID THAT IT MIGHT BE A CHALLENGE TO GET INTO THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET. HOW IS THAT ASPECT OF PRACTICING ACUPUNCTURE GOING FOR YOU?

That part of practice is my least favorite. I’m definitely growing myself in that aspect though. I truly underestimated the amount of work it would be to start and run my own practice. It’s super rewarding and lovely to not work for “the man,” but truly my patients are my bosses.

It’s lovely to call the shots, but there’s a lot of extra work when it comes to running a business. At times, I feel like I’m stumbling through the “firsts” of doing things. For example, the first time I had to file my quarterly income and sales tax, I fumbled for sure. There is a learning curve overall, but I’m super proud of myself.

DO YOU USE A PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE? PROS AND CONS? COST?

Good practice management software is key. I cannot imagine my life without it, to be honest. I use Unified Practice and Quickbooks Online. Unified Practice is a smaller company based out of California and New York City. They are useful for practice management and electronic charting.

United Practice has an iPad app for charting that is specific to acupuncturists. I’m so happy I took the plunge with them. I have the ability to utilize online scheduling which is a godsend for me. Since I’m a sole practitioner who does everything, including scheduling and reminders, this has saved me so much time, energy, and effort. In addition they have excellent and prompt support who know me by name and help as best they can! Their software is very easy to use.

I also decided to invest in Quickbooks Online because I needed some further organization. With Quickbooks, I can easily track sales and expenses. I can file taxes much easier, keep inventory, and generate various reports such as profit and loss. My total cost for both of these is roughly $65 per month. (This is about the price just of just ONE patient appointment.) Highly worth it for me. In the grand scheme of things, both of these are a must for someone who is apprehensive about organization or keeping everything straight.

From Acupuncture Student to New Acupuncturist - A Follow-up Interview with Danielle Dupell. Danielle reveals what she's learned in her 1st year in practice, what she would do differently, and the marketing tactics that have worked best for her so far.

DO YOU TAKE INSURANCE? HOW DO YOU STAY ORGANIZED WITH YOUR INSURANCE BILLING?

I do not outright take insurance. I supply my patients with a superbill, which has all the necessary information for the patient to submit the insurance claim themselves. Since insurances are so variable, I decided that it would be more cost effective for me to run a cash practice. I don’t have the extra income at the moment to hire someone to do my billing. Maybe in the future, if I become busier, I would consider hiring a front desk person to help me.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF BEING IN PRACTICE SO FAR?

I just love what I do! I love making people feel better. Sadly, oftentimes people seek out acupuncture after trying every other therapy imaginable. It is frustrating at times for me as a practitioner since I do know that I could probably make a more substantial difference if I saw that person years prior, but even if I can make some difference to someone who is suffering, it’s very rewarding. I also can’t lie about the fact that it’s nice to finally be making a living!

LEAST FAVORITE?

My least favorite part is surely the administrative part of things. I sometimes find myself in a pickle trying to be organized. While I do strive to be better each day, it’s still not something that I love. Luckily these days, there are good technological options out there to help. I love being a clinician and diagnostician, so I will do whatever it takes to do what I really love. Unfortunately for me, that does mean struggling through some occasional paperwork.

From Acupuncture Student to New Acupuncturist - A Follow-up Interview with Danielle Dupell. Danielle reveals what she's learned in her 1st year in practice, what she would do differently, and the marketing tactics that have worked best for her so far.

YOU ALSO MENTIONED IN OUR PREVIOUS INTERVIEW THAT YOU HOPED TO FIND A MENTOR AFTER GRADUATION. WERE YOU ABLE TO FIND SOMEONE? HOW DOES THAT RELATIONSHIP WORK? WHAT KINDS OF DISCUSSIONS DO YOU BRING TO HER/HIM?

Yes, I have many mentors. Mostly they are professors of mine from school, but also older students, and even students that I graduated with who are now colleagues of mine. I reach out to them via phone or e-mail when I have questions. It’s important to have honest people who will help at a moment’s notice. I ask them all kinds of questions, especially questions about business or their clinical thoughts on a case and how to proceed. Off the top of my head I have about five people that I could reach out to if I need support. It’s important to recognize that while I don’t have all the answers, I do have tools to find answers when I need them.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ACUPUNCTURE STUDENTS WHO ARE IN THEIR THIRD YEAR OR ABOUT TO GRADUATE?

I would say to work on your business plan and ask tons of questions in your last year. Overall, my education was very clinically based, not super heavy in the business aspect in the grand scheme of things. It’s always easier to ask questions when you are around your professors. Do as much as you possibly can while in school and you have many people to support you and give you feedback. I also advise third year students to do research on the place they are setting up a practice. Make sure you set yourself up to succeed. It takes a lot of legwork, but it’s always better to go in with an idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

From Acupuncture Student to New Acupuncturist - A Follow-up Interview with Danielle Dupell. Danielle reveals what she's learned in her 1st year in practice, what she would do differently, and the marketing tactics that have worked best for her so far.SO FAR, WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT OR RELEVANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS?

The most relevant thing someone told me was to make sure to put myself out there, network, and do trades with other practitioners. I started doing trades with massage therapists, chiropractors, and mainly anyone who will trade with me. Not only do I get a chance to find out what services they offer and how to refer to them, but it also helps them understand better what I do. It seems like a win-win.

The other important piece of advice is to not get too cranked up or worried about making rent or paying your bills (to the point where it starts to interfere with your practice). While, of course, those things are super important. Slow times are bound to happen. But it doesn’t mean you are going out of business. This is just the natural ebb and flow in business.

WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE MARKETING TACTIC YOU’VE USED SO FAR IN YOUR PRACTICE?

The most effective marketing tactic I’ve used is to just do good work. Plattsburgh is very word of mouth-oriented. People here talk a lot and if you do good work and are getting good results, my experience is they will talk to other people for you!

Another tactic is to not be afraid to ask your patients to write testimonials. Those who are skeptical or thinking about trying out your services want to hear from other people that you are a good practitioner.

In addition, don’t be afraid to educate your patients. I try to educate my patients as they are getting treated. This makes them slightly more knowledgeable about what I do and better able to talk about my services to others.

From Acupuncture Student to New Acupuncturist - A Follow-up Interview with Danielle Dupell. Danielle reveals what she's learned in her 1st year in practice, what she would do differently, and the marketing tactics that have worked best for her so far.

LEAST EFFECTIVE?

Google Adwords. I always ask where my patients have heard about me. Most are referrals, some from social media, but I have only received one patient who said they saw my Google ad. I think that may be just the area I’m in; when people are looking for quality service, they ask their friends, not Google.

ANY BIG PLANS COMING UP FOR YOU? CHANGES IN PRACTICE LOCATION, OPENING ANOTHER OFFICE, ETC.?

A couple people have offered me office space. Mostly, I think they are interested in adding acupuncture to their existing businesses and offering a different service to their patients. As of right now, I’ve decided that I’m staying put. I don’t have anything to complain about. I’m currently running a decently busy practice with just one location. Plus, I love this studio space! I enjoy being here. I’m not sure what will happen in the future, but I’m staying put for now!

WHAT WOULD YOUR DREAM PRACTICE LOOK LIKE? OR, WHAT WILL YOUR PRACTICE LOOK LIKE ONCE YOU’VE “MADE IT?”

I kind of feel like I have already “made it!” In terms of looking forward, I’m not sure, but currently I’m taking things day by day right now. I think that it would be nice to be consistently at 25-40 patients per week. Other than that, who knows! We will see what the future has in store for me!

From Acupuncture Student to New Acupuncturist - A Follow-up Interview with Danielle Dupell. Danielle reveals what she's learned in her 1st year in practice, what she would do differently, and the marketing tactics that have worked best for her so far.IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND DO ONE THING DIFFERENTLY IN OPENING YOUR PRACTICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would have done more in school. I would not have underestimated the amount of time and work it would take to get my practice off the ground. I would have said to my previous self: “Self, it doesn’t get any easier, it just gets different. Opening this business will be very difficult and time consuming but you will do it – and be successful!”

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

Self-care is really important! Don’t think that just because you’re busy, you can’t take time for yourself. I would encourage anyone who is in a medical or service industry to take the time to care for yourself. For me, that means weekly to bi-weekly massages and regular chiropractic appointments. It’s not selfish because you cannot pour from an empty cup! It will essentially make you a better practitioner with a better ability and more space for other people’s suffering.


Thank you Danielle! I hope new and seasoned practitioners alike are inspired by your good advice and how far your practice has come in such a short time.

Hopefully all the students reading this will take your suggestions to heart and start thinking about the future of their practices now, instead of waiting. I personally agree with you; it’s never too soon to start planning for your practice, and your future self will thank you for being so proactive!”

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True Life: The Struggle is Real

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I’ve been dragged through the mud, put through the ringer, dismantled and put back together again. I am a hollow shell of my former self – like humpty dumpty.

But, I am finally starting to put the pieces back together after the exhausting journey of passing my NCCAOM board exams for licensure.

I have not written a blog in months because I have been feverishly studying for boards. And now I am so close to licensure I can taste it! It’s just a matter of paperwork and I will soon receive my license saying, “Danielle Dupell – licensed acupuncturist!”

I now describe this time like a rebound effect – being in sympathetic overload for months, years even, just to be throttled into a parasympathetic hangover. I would describe this hangover as an overwhelming need to be in bed and asleep for as many hours of the day as possible. Senioritis has taken on a whole new meaning.

I need to step back. I need to regroup. Luckily there are just a few short weeks left until the next semester break. I am so proud of myself and happy that I’ve come this far, but I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a semester break like I am now.

Although no one ever told me becoming a licensed acupuncturist would be so hard, I have learned so much about myself along the way. All the struggle, all the strife comes down to these moments.

Cheers to being so close to a dream come true!

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The Interview Series – Number One Meet Michelle

As I’m nearing the end of this insane educational journey, I wanted to inspire future holistic practitioners by talking to current acupuncturists, herbalists, and holistic clinicians about their practice, experience, and insights. (Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten about the China Chronicles – they are still in the works!)

Professional Photo Jacket

Meet Michelle Grasek – a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, admissions counselor, and writer of an awesome marketing and practice management blog called Modern Acupuncture. It is safe to say that she keeps quite busy! Here goes…

1.) Hey Michelle! Thanks so much for meeting with me today. Let’s get started: How long have you been a licensed acupuncturist?

4.5 years. Time flies!

2.) Where did you go to school?

I got my Master of Science in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (MSAOM) degree from Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine of New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and my undergraduate degree in Biology from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.

3.) What did you find most challenging about school?

Herbs were definitely the most challenging classes for me. The memorization of Chinese vocabulary was intense. But herbs are so fascinating and make such a difference for patients that it was completely worth it. And my classmates and I frequently studied together and came up with fun ways to help us memorize the more obscure facts.

I also found clinic challenging at first, as I tend to be an introvert. Clinic forced me out of my shell, for sure! Learning to talk to people about sensitive information was a struggle initially, but the learning curve was steep and it got better. Clinic is all about communication, and I learned that quickly at FLSAOM. Even though it was hard for me at the time, I’m glad I had to go through it and figure it out, because I think it’s made me a much better communicator in all aspects of my life, not just the clinical setting.

4.) What is your herbal background?

Before acupuncture school? None at all. I knew I wanted to pursue herbs in acupuncture school because the professors made it clear that studying herbs helps deepen your understanding of Chinese medical theory and can help you be a better acupuncturist. I knew it was a path I had to pursue to be the best practitioner I could be, and it just turned out that I loved herbs for their own value anyway. But I had never taken herbs or learned much about them before acupuncture school.

5.) Why were you originally interested in acupuncture and Oriental medicine?

As a high school student my class had visited FLSAOM and learned about acupuncture, and that sparked an interest in me that never went away. In undergraduate I initially intended to go to medical school. As I progressed through undergrad, I realized that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the control the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries had over medicine.

Not long after this realization, my grandmother had a mild stroke, and my aunt brought her for acupuncture. No one in my family had much personal experience with acupuncture at that point, and we were all impressed at how rapidly my grandmother improved. She could use her left hand again, which gave her back her independence by allowing her to live alone in her house again. That was incredible to me! At that point I decided to pursue acupuncture instead of med school, and I’ve never looked back!


6.) Where do you/did you practice?

I had a private practice in Irondequoit, N.Y. for about four years before I decided to return to FLSAOM to work full time. Currently I also practice part-time at a long-term living hospital in Rochester, N.Y. It’s a privilege to get to work at the hospital.

7.) Where are you practicing/working now?

I currently work in administration at FLSAOM, in admissions. When I was in private practice, I began to realize that I as much as I enjoyed treating patients, I also really loved managing and running my business. This is not too common for most healthcare providers! But I really wanted more administrative responsibilities, and when I was offered the job here at FLSAOM, I just knew I couldn’t refuse the chance to see what it was like. And as I mentioned earlier, I still practice part-time at a hospital in Rochester, which has been an amazing experience. I love the balance between clinical and administrative responsibilities that I have in my career now.

8.) What advice do you have for prospective students?

Be prepared for a heavy workload over several years. I think people don’t realize that acupuncture school is a serious course of study. It’s one of the longest masters degrees out there! The MSAOM program is over 160 credits. You can become a lawyer in only 120 credits! But at the same time, know that you can do it if you put your mind to it. If this is what you love, commit to it and know that your hard work will be worth it. Nothing worth having comes easily. And your classmates will make the journey easier. They’ll always be there to study with you and support you, even after you graduate.

9.) What has been your most memorable patient?

There have been so many! I’ve had patients with wrist pain whose pain went entirely away after just one treatment. Those cases were so amazing! I also specialize in cosmetic acupuncture, and I once saw it entirely erase a childhood scar from a patient’s eyebrow. Awesome! But ultimately my favorite, most memorable patients are the ones who have been with me the longest. Getting to know them and help them manage chronic conditions, like MS, has been life-changing, in the best way.

10.) Have you ever traveled to China? (A few pics if possible!)

Yes. I had the opportunity to go to China with my FLSAOM classmates in 2009 for the China Elective Class. It was amazing! We spent one week sightseeing in Beijing and two weeks shadowing doctors in a learning hospital in Hangzhou.

It was incredible to see the seamless integration that exists between Eastern and Western medicine in China. It’s inspirational to know that a model of healthcare like that exists. It’s all about providing whichever method or style of medicine will provide the most benefit for the patient.

It was also incredible to see how natural it was for patients to take herbs and use acupuncture. In China, acupuncture and herbal medicine are simply part of the culture. They grow up with Chinese medical concepts as part of their daily lives, so acupuncture and herbal medicine make sense to them. People are not afraid or skeptical to use herbs.

The China trip left me feeling like my pursuit of acupuncture and herbal medicine was validated in ways I never imagined. It’s such a powerful medicine, and we in the US are only beginning to use it and trust it to the level that it deserves. But seeing it practiced in China was inspirational and reminded me of why I chose this medicine in the first place. It’s an amazing medicine with the capacity to heal difficult conditions with almost no side effects. It changes lives, and the China trip reminded me of that in a big way. I plan to go back to China again someday, hopefully with FLSAOM again, since I had such a great experience the first time!

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11.) Have you participated in any mission trips? What was your experience like? (A few pics if possible!)

Yes, and it was amazing! In 2013 I traveled with the nonprofit organization Project Buena Vista (www.ProjectBuenaVista.org) to Peru to treat under-served patients in the Amazon rain forest. Project Buena Vista travels to Peru twice a year, bringing acupuncturists and other hands-on healthcare providers to volunteer their services to local people in need. It was such a fantastic experience. I felt so moved by the experience that I decided to volunteer as a board member after I returned, so that I can contribute to their cause even when I can’t make it to Peru.

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12.) Why is becoming a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist a good career choice?

It’s a great career choice for so many reasons. Before I go into detail: I’m always concerned that people will assume that I left my private practice because it was doing poorly, or because you “can’t make it as an acupuncturist.” That was not the case at all. My practice was successful and growing larger and more lucrative every year. It was simply that my passion for management was getting hard to ignore. I took my current job in admissions at FLSAOM because I wanted to remain in the acupuncture community, but see what it would be like to have more acupuncture-related management responsibilities. Combined with my independent practitioner status at the hospital, I’ve found a balance that works perfectly for me and inspires me every day.

There are so many benefits to becoming an acupuncturists/herbalist. Because most acupuncturists own their own practices, I would say that the primary benefit is that you are in charge of your future. You control the direction of your practice, your specialty, your fee schedule, your hours, your vacation time, everything. The luxury of taking time off whenever I needed it is something I sorely miss!

When I ran my own practice, I often started at 10:30 in the morning and only worked a half-day on Fridays. You can mold your practice into your own personal vision, and that is a rare thing in today’s workplace. You’re not an employee, you’re the owner.

Don’t get me wrong. Running a business is a lot of work, and it can take years to build it up. But as long as you get the support you need and are willing to work hard for something you love, you can make your acupuncture practice whatever you dream it to be.

13.) What opportunities are out there for future professionals in this field?

There are so many opportunities!

  • Private practice
  • Practicing in a wellness group
  • Practicing in a hospital (often as an independent practitioner)
  • Associate practice (working as an employee for another acupuncturist)
  • Practicing on a cruise ship
  • Teaching at an acupuncture school
  • Teaching wellness classes or alternative medicine classes at community colleges (which only require a Masters’ degree to be an adjunct)
  • Researching acupuncture
  • Writing about acupuncture for newspapers, magazines, online resources
  • Volunteering your acupuncture services at home and internationally
  • Providing educational wellness seminars
  • Acupuncture is useful and in demand all over the world. I think acupuncture can take you anywhere you want it to. So far it’s taken me to China, England, and Peru, and I don’t plan to stop there.

Michelle provides acupuncture marketing and practice management advice as well as inspiration for future professionals in her blog: Modern Acupuncture (www.modernacu.com) She is passionate about helping everyone succeed in this amazing medicine.

Thanks Michelle!🙂

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Bridge the Gap – East Verses West

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As a seventh trimester student at the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, I’ve experienced internships at NYCC’s Seneca Falls Health Center, Campus Health Center, and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Canandaigua. I have treated diverse patient complaints—from low back pain to hot flashes to chronic migraines. I’m pleased to say that I’ve witnessed a patient in pain leave the clinic pain-free. I ask myself—why doesn’t everyone get Acupuncture?

Medical practitioners and patients are unsure where Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) practitioners fit into the healthcare community. The truth is AOM professionals should be utilized as an integral part of a team of healthcare professionals with a common goal in mind – to make the patient better.

So what’s the hold up? Why are AOM practitioners on the periphery? And what can we do about it?

  • Patients and medical practitioners don’t know that acupuncture is a preventative medicine. The idea of “constitution”—an individual body’s proclivity to act in a certain way—still doesn’t quite fit into the biomedical community. Yes, it’s true, everyone’s body, although a similar frame, works differently. Therefore, all healthy individuals should visit the AOM clinic for maintenance treatments—especially around season change to prevent colds and flu.
  • AOM services are often the last resort—the place many patients turn after all else fails. This is unfortunate because most conditions are more effectively treated in their beginning stages. For example, I was blessed to visit China and work at the Zhejiang University Hospital in Hangzhou. Patients there utilized AOM services even if they had only the slightest notion of sickness. Further, they recognized when their condition was changing and sought treatment immediately—even if the first sign was fatigue.
  • Spread the word! Many medical practitioners don’t know exactly what we do! Oriental Medicine includes more than just acupuncture! There are five branches of Oriental Medicine: Acupuncture, moxibustion, dietary therapy, herbal medicine, and bodywork.
  • Know when to refer. Just as a primary care physician knows when to refer to an orthopedic surgeon, AOM practitioners should know when to refer to other healthcare professionals and vice versa. Help educate practitioners so they know when AOM is appropriate. After all, isn’t a less invasive option best?
  • Researchers study acupuncture in the way they study pharmaceuticals—looking for an “active ingredient.” Honestly, there are many active ingredients because the therapeutic nature of AOM services is more than just the administration of needles. Some researchers conclude that the evidence supporting acupuncture is slim. Funny thing is, many pharmaceuticals have an “unknown” affect yet they are still prescribed without a second thought.

The integration of AOM services into mainstream healthcare requires a shift in thinking and acceptance that biomedicine and AOM were founded on different theoretical understandings. This doesn’t make one paradigm better than the other—they both are valuable and should complement one another. The bottom line: work together, educate, and help the patient be their best.

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Chop-Chop Bobble-Head

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If you are wondering why it’s been three months since my last blog post, let me begin by saying that with each passing trimester, time is slipping away from me. I cannot believe seventh trimester has begun and I am in my final year of Acupuncture School. It’s been a whirlwind. I do intend to wrap up the China Chronicles, but first, here’s a little insight into my current world.

  • Bobble-head: My schedule is jam-packed. Between work, classes, clinic hours, homework, studying, and starting to think about boards, I feel like my head is spinning. With my head on a swivel, I resemble a bobble-head doll (Insert: “difficult tasks are worth completing” quote here)
  • The year of fun: My best friend and I are committed to making our last year together chock full of fun! We plan to go apple picking, wine touring, and laugh until our faces hurt. This year will definitely be one to remember.
  • Chop-Chop: Every few years, I let my hair grow long and then chop it all off. Originally I had planned on waiting until graduation, but instead, I said goodbye to 14 inches of hair this weekend. It was a cleansing experience, as if I had shed some skin like a snake, or peeled layers off an onion.
  • Pumpkin everything: IT’S FALLLLLLLL! – my favorite season and I am a freak about pumpkin everything. October is my favorite month of the year. Not only do I get to celebrate another birthday, but also I get to enjoy the beautiful foliage.
  • Future Practice: Resume, career development, small business, mission, vision, and personal statements – YIKES! (Maybe if I say the words in a list it may start sinking in) I’m overwhelmed! How can I possibly string a couple of words together to live my life and conduct my practice by?
  • Business woman – What?: I am a clinician. I can just feel it in my bones. I enjoy administering Chinese Medicine. However, I am by no means a businessperson and I don’t know the first thing about running a business. All of a sudden I’m on a roller coaster going 100mph headed towards real life and running my own business and hoping for a smooth ride.
  • Meeting with a Plattsburgh Acupuncturist: Over break, I was fortunate to meet with an acupuncturist in Plattsburgh, N.Y. She was fantastic and told me some extremely positive aspects about the outlook for acupuncture in my hometown. Although not what I had planned, it is looking quite desirable now. Oh so many big life decisions coming my way!
  • Outcome Assessments (OA’s) Round 2: As promised, OA’s have returned. This cumulative test examines all of what we have learned so far. Modeled after the NCCAOM boards, they consist of groups of one hundred multiple-choice questions for each of three subjects – acupuncture, theory, and biomedicine. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine students must also take an Herbal OA, which is offered on a different day (THANK GOD!). This weekend, I have 3 out of 4 tests. Thinking back to how anxious I felt about taking these tests last year, it’s interesting to note that my attitude has completely changed. I don’t feel as stressed this time because I have been doing diligence over the past two years and feel like there isn’t much I could do to “cram” for these tests. I’ve been studying for them for my whole school career.

I have undergone so much personal growth in two years, but I think this coming year will be the biggest transition for me – from student to acupuncturist. I couldn’t be more excited!

Stay tuned – More China Chronicles coming soon!!

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The China Chronicles – Beijing City Part 2: The Great Wall

Tuesday 4/15/14 

9:05 AM: Breakfast at the Jade Garden Hotel – an international mecca – was absolutely divine and included Chinese, American, French, and Italian cuisine.

Today we are off to the Great Wall of China. It will take roughly two hours. Our tour guide informs us about Chinese culture. For example, in China, passing the family name is very important and honored. Since the “1-child rule” was implemented in the 90’s to help control the population, and many female babies were aborted, there are roughly 4 million men to 1 million females. The dating scene in Beijing is a jungle, and Chinese women have a saying, “I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle.” Chinese women take the opportunity to move up in class and are very direct in wanting to know if the man has a house, car, and job.

Great Wall Info: The Great Wall stretches 5,500 miles from east to west China and occupies a number of natural terrains such as grasslands, mountains, desserts, and plateaus. Made of stone, earth, wood, and brick, it was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by soldiers, prisoners, and locals. Many people died during its construction and therefore it serves also as a burial ground. Built for protection, it served three different states and is divided into three portions. Having undergone numerous extensions and repairs, it has become a unified wall during the Qin Dynasty though, to this day, portions of the wall lay in ruins 

We are almost at the wall!

 

1:30 PM: “Majestic” is the only word I can use to describe it. 

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We arrived at the bottom of a hill and began walking up to the Great Wall entrance. From there we choose whether to ride a chairlift up to the wall or to climb up the stairs. I decided to climb, but I don’t think I realized what I was getting myself into! I took a second to remind myself that I grew up in the Adirondacks and I’ve done my fair share of hiking, even though I was halfway across the world – this was no different. After ascending the many steps – it took a while – I felt accomplished and got my second wind. 

This portion of the wall, situated amongst mountains, has many irregular steps that range from 2 inches to over a foot and I really needed to watch my step. Along the wall there are watchtowers – separate elevated areas where soldiers could watch for enemies. I joined two other students and walked all the way to the end where we could see the ruined part of the wall.

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To get down, we could either walk down a zillion stairs, or take a toboggan ride. I decided on the toboggan. It was a long windy track and so much fun! I actually took a video of myself riding down! 

Next we are off to a silk factory and Olympic park.

 

5:30 PM: A few things I didn’t realize about silk:

  • One silkworm can produce a silk filament that is 13,000 feet long.
  • One silkworm can produce 50 feet of filament per minute.
  • It takes ten pounds of silkworm cocoons to get one pound of silk.
  • Silk rope is stronger than metal wire – it does not break easily!
  • Silk is cosmetically good for your body.  When your face comes in contact with silk, especially on pillows, it is less likely to become wrinkled. Not only because of the silk protein, but also because the texture is slippery, allowing fine lines and wrinkles to be gently ironed away.

The process of making silk was interesting and I can surely understand why it’s such an expensive material. I’ve been told while in China there are two things you must buy: silk and pearls! Luckily tomorrow we are heading to the pearl market! 

It was awesome to see Olympic park, but found it crowded and full of tourists. I was able to see the water cube and birds nest from the outside. It was brief, but I’m glad to have seen it. We had to hurry because rush hour traffic is horrendous.

 

Tomorrow we are going to the Pearl Market, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. It will be another busy day! I am exhausted and still not caught up on Beijing Time. Wish me luck!

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The China Chronicles – Beijing City Part 1

I’ve never been one to journal my every move, but I’ve decided that this trip to China is something I want to remember forever. So here goes…

4/13/14 – Sunday 9:00 am

Rochester International Airport: We are about to embark on a very long journey to Beijing with a short layover in Detroit. The longest flights I’ve taken were 2 back-to-back 10-hour flights when my family traveled to Australia – I was 12. We are flying directly over the North Pole today and it should take roughly 14 and a half hours. We land in Beijing at 2:20pm. I am very nervous to fly. It’s actually kind of funny because my brother is a pilot.

4/13/14 – Sunday 12:15 pm

First flight went okay. We are now boarding for Beijing. I’m feeling uneasy and excited. Hopefully this will be the fastest 14.5 hours of my life. Peace out USA!

4/14/14 – Monday 2:07pm – China Time/ 2:07am Sunday USA time

Ready to land in Beijing! That was rough. I don’t remember traveling hurting my body so much. Not only am I exhausted, but my knees, hips, and ankles are killing me. It’s going to be okay though because I’ll be up and walking around soon. Traveling over the International Date Line makes me feel like I’m in the twilight zone. I can’t believe I’ve been on this plane for so long. I am happy and excited to be here. Yay!

4/14/14 – Monday 9:30pm

We checked in to the Cui Ming Zhuang Hotel, which means The Jade Garden Hotel – an awesome location within walking distance to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The air quality here right now is poor – almost as if a misty blanket is covering all that is Beijing City. If you find yourself near 5-10 trees in one central location, you can breathe a little easier for a second. I never knew that photosynthesis would be something I could actually feel and sense with my own body.

We ventured down to what looks like the “Times Square” of Beijing. It’s a pedestrian street with many large shops, restaurants, and markets. There is so much to look at here – the culture, fashion, food, and even the architecture is really unique. Exactly how you would envision it. We walked by the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, but didn’t stop for long, because we have a tour planned at both these locations in a few days.

Next it was dinnertime. We ate across the street at a wonderful restaurant. They have amazing Chinese food – or what they here call just food. Dinner was an unfamiliar experience. The plates are very small – about the size of a tea saucer. The meal was served family style with many large dishes from which we could serve ourselves – no serving utensils, though, just chopsticks. Here it is either learn how to eat with chopsticks quickly or starve. Chopsticks take practice, but I enjoyed it. I ate a lot slower and in turn it felt better on my body. Everyone seemed a bit clumsy with our first family style dinner. After all, we don’t exactly eat like this in the United States. We passed food around the table over and over again.

I am so exhausted now – full, content, and happy.

Tomorrow we are off to the Great Wall! I am so blessed to be here – my face hurts from smiling.

(see photos below!)

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Mish Mosh of Life & China Trip

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Exciting things are happening!!!!

1.)  Yesterday was the last day of my Assistantship! This means I am now an Intern and starting to take my own patients next trimester! Yay! It all happened so fast I can hardly believe it.

2.)  I leave for China in 5 days! I haven’t started packing yet, and will surely be flying around like a chicken with my head cut off in about 4 days wondering why I waited so long to pack! There is just so much going on with finals being pushed up a week early. I have many exams to study for and practical prep work to be done.

3.)  I am close to surviving my 5th trimester – only 4 more left!

4.)  Winter has gone on long enough! I cannot wait for warmth of summer – well it’s a good thing Beijing is 80 degrees and sunny!

5.)  I first entered this program being unsure about whether I would practice herbal medicine – I thought at first that I would just take the herbal program because it consists of more theory about acupuncture. I have never been more wrong in my life! Being in clinic this semester has been eye opening for me. Yes, herbal medicine is challenging – as an herbalist, if you’re wrong about a formula, you can make a patient’s conditions worse, however, if you are right, it can be life altering for the patient. I will take these odds and most definitely write herbal formulas for my patients! The challenge is just enough to keep me on my toes and constantly reading, doing research, and studying herbs. Overall, it’s a win-win situation that I get more theoretical information about Chinese Medicine and I get to add more tools to my box in order to make more of a difference. It’s amazing how certain little things just fall into place sometimes.

 

All things China:

-Being in Asia is going to hopefully be an amazing cultural experience. I recently bought a new handbook about traveling, studying, and working in China. It is designed to help Americans understand cultural values and how not to stick out like a sore thumb in China.

-All I have to say is given my tall height and redheaded mane; I’m thinking I will be a sore thumb regardless, but hey – there’s no harm in trying.

-I also purchased a starter book for all the basic Chinese language I will need in China. I think I should just carry a fanny pack and stamp “tourist” on my forehead.

-Total travel time will be about 18 hours (with layovers) and the time difference is exactly 12 hours.

-We will be flying over the North Pole to get there– I’ll be sure to wave to Santa Claus!

-I will not be able to post while in China, but I promise to bring back tons of pictures, experiences, and stories to share with you!

-Until then, be well and take care🙂 Bon Voyage!

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