There is a major shift happening in my education right in the early moments of this fourth trimester. For the past year, I have been memorizing nearly every piece of information I’ve come into contact with. The amount of information requiring memorization without any conceptualization is MAMMOTH and honestly, memorizing is an instrumental skill to becoming an acupuncturist. The question I have is: Without actually assimilating the concepts, have I managed to remember anything?
Well, I’m about to find out because there is a transition happening in which all the stuff I memorized in the past year could possibly be presenting in a patient sitting across from me in a treatment room. That’s right…. I have made the clinical shift from observer to assistant. AKA: I have gone from a fly on the wall to a fly that gets to do things like needle, perform adjunctive techniques and hopefully diagnose properly (in time!) I’m not going to lie – I have felt a nervous tension since the tri began because frankly – I just want to do a good job!!!!!!!
My first assistant clinic shift was this past Wednesday! It was absolutely awesome because I was able to learn conceptually and clinically rather than just memorize words on a page. On another note, I asked so many questions and truly hope that my supervisor doesn’t think I am incompetent! I just want to act as a sponge when I’m around her and soak up every clinical pearl that falls out of her mouth with enthusiasm and fervor!!
At the beginning of my first shift, we had an orientation where we were all given the “what kind of acupuncturist do you want to be?” talk. Emphasized was the fact that now is the time to watch various licensed acupuncturists and decide if you like their “style.” What exceptional attributes do you wish to mirror from them? How do they treat their patients? What types of treatments do they perform? Not only should we all think of these aspects, but also down to the details. For example, how do you want to dress and present yourself? Do you want to dress like a hippy? Practice in scrubs? Or do you want to be sleek and uber professional? For me, these aspects are SO exciting to think about because now it feels like I have important choices to make about my future practice. The shift from a didactic mind to more of a clinical mind is scary, yes, but exciting none the less.
The picture of a Kleenex pack and bar of soap are the means by which we were shown proper needle technique and hand strengthening exercises. The Kleenex pack is used to build up the smaller muscles of the fingers to have the strength and control to properly perform acupuncture, while the bar of soap is more representative of a typical body resistance. Today was our first day of needling on each other and I have to say, it went better than I expected! The whole process of being more clinically focused is an exciting beginning of something wonderful!
The Standard Process Cleanse is COMPLETE! It was quite a challenge for me, but I did it! The experience had many ups and downs – I cheated at times and it hurt to eat those bad foods, but I accomplished the overall goal. I sped up my previously sluggish digestion and in addition lost about six pounds! I feel slimmer and more confident! In general, I would recommend this program to others with this important piece of advice, “If you slip up and eat something that is not on the food list, don’t beat yourself up! Do the best you can with what you have. Just know that whatever positive change you’ve decided to implement is better and more productive than your prior eating habits!” (This is actually what I wish someone would have been there to tell me when I foolishly went to a clam bake expecting to eat only fruits and vegetable – hah! YA RIGHT!)
Not only has the twenty-one days of the Standard Process Cleanse come and gone, but I also survived my third trimester and consequentially my first full year of acupuncture school! Honestly, it has been a doozey! I am glad to have progressed through my studies well so far. As it turns out, acupuncture school, has made me learn quite a bit about myself. Obviously – it’s a big challenge academically, however, I think it really is a test of intestinal fortitude. According to Merriam Webster, the definition of intestinal fortitude is “courage, stamina.” Courage and stamina are definitely the right words to use when realistically talking about what it takes to become an acupuncturist.
Courage is necessary because this profession goes against the grain of what many believe in the West. Although I believe that both Western and Eastern Medicine CAN be successfully used together, they do appear to conflict with one another at times. Also, certain religions and cultures believe that acupuncturists perform some kind of voo-doo. The honest truth is that I’m never sure where the conversation will go when I say, “Yes – I go to the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine!” It also takes a great deal of courage, commitment and assurance to plunge into three years of graduate school studying a subject completely foreign to you.
Stamina is definitely the right word for the qualities needed in this program and future profession. Imagine running a marathon for years– because that’s exactly what this experience is like. I’m confident I will look back and say, “HOLY $%^&! I completed the first leg of the ‘Acupuncture and Oriental Medical Marathon!’ ” Now what is the next leg of the journey?! Oh – that would be to start or join a practice and take as many cases as I possibly can! This is a lifelong study and it is slightly comforting to know I have a whole lifetime to memorize the information. I hope I never stop learning.
Back at It
Tomorrow begins the first day of classes as I enter my second year! (I have to mention that I was so excited to change my “about” page from “first year” to “second year Acupuncture and Oriental Medical student!” YAY!) I was invited to attend the orientation for the new class! I think it will be a great experience to see how excited the new students are! I remember sitting in orientation feeling elated to finally begin learning a career that I’m going to love! A lot has changed in a year, however, my love for this profession has not – and I am thankful for that!