Monthly Archives: January 2014

Decisive Decisions… CHINA – Should I Go?


According to family and friends, indecisiveness is by far my “most frustrating” quality. It’s true – I spend abnormal amounts of time trying to make decisions. From the small decisions: Should I have chicken or fish for dinner? Buy black or brown boots for the season? Go to Wegmans before or after the gym? To the big decisions: After school, should I live in the North or South? Have a cash based practice or accept insurance? Treat patients with chronic diseases who are extremely ill or pamper the affluent with acupuncture facelifts? While I could spend hours if not days debating which decisions are right for me, as of late, I have impressed myself with sheer decisiveness in one important aspect. The question is: To go to China, or not to go to China?

I’m getting ahead of myself – let me rewind. Every year, the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers an Elective China Trip for those who are interested. The trip is three weeks long. The first week is spent in Beijing doing touristy stuff (ie: Great wall, Olympic Park, Tienamen Square, Forbidden City’s Palace Museum, Pearl Market, etc). Next we take an overnight train to Hangzhou where we spend the subsequent 2 weeks working in the Hangzhou Hospital. Since this is an elective class, it will obviously encompass schoolwork. Our days at the hospital will be split: half the day will be devoted to lectures by Chinese doctors and the other half will be spent shadowing those doctors. For clinic opportunities, we will get to choose based on interest. A few examples include: Internal Medicine (ie: Herbs), Oncology, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Mental Health, and Tui Na. Evenings off in China include group dinners and exploration of both Beijing and Hangzhou. Additionally, we leave April 12th – which is the Saturday before finals week and stay straight through our break, returning to Central New York a few days before class starts for the summer trimester.

Like any responsible decision maker, I decided to make a pros and cons list:

The Pros

  • Traveling abroad sounds AMAZING! Especially to China!
  • Seeing Chinese Medicine as a fully functioning health care system where it was created may bridge some gaps between mystical belief system that may have some benefit to legitimate health care system that is factually based on positive clinical results.
  • The trip will put Academia into prospective and allow me to think about my future practice.
  • Traveling with many of my friends from school will be so much fun!
  • Everything is all set up – all I have to do is pay the money and I don’t have to worry about the logistics (aka: booking hotels, flights, and getting a translator).
  • The trip is spearheaded by a faculty member who has many connections in China and is fluent in Chinese.
  • I can’t wait to see the “Pharmacies” aka: Herbal Dispensaries!
  • The cultural opportunity will be great – especially the cuisine.

The Cons

  • $$$$$ – MORE student loans
  • I will have no break to let my brain flat-line between trimesters, which is much needed in this program.
  • More schoolwork on top of schoolwork.
  • By leaving before finals week, we have to take ALL of our finals in the weeks prior to leaving– it will be a big push towards the end.
  • Traveling abroad can be scary and unknown.
  • The language barrier and being clueless in a foreign country is not ideal.
  • The flight is extremely long and jet lag many ensue and linger for a few days. This is more relevant for the trip home because we won’t be adjusted before having to start our very first internship in the clinics.

Overall, and rather quickly, I have concluded that the risk is worth the reward. I AM GOING TO CHINA! I think this will definitely be money well spent! Stay tuned for more exciting information regarding the China trip!

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Acupuncture Boot Camp Break

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Mom always said, “Every person should go through some sort of boot camp.”  Now, I’ve never been to boot camp, but after this past semester of class, and the craziness of OA’s, I’m thinking boot camp may have been easier!

I’m thankful the worst is over – or so I’ve heard from other students. The good news is there is roughly a year until the next round of OA’s, which (right now) feels like enough time to learn more and review old material.

Now I find myself on Christmas Break, in the house where I grew up. I look through the window at the snow falling and at the trees I used to climb.  The fridge is fully stocked and the aroma of coffee fills the air. My thoughts take me to a life before Acupuncture School – a life that was less stressful, however, not nearly as meaningful. I always knew that I was planted here on this earth to make a difference in someone’s life. Slowly, as I learn more about this magnificent medicine, I am beginning to see how easily an impact will be made. A teacher once told me that Acupuncturists may, at times, feel extremely important since they significantly change the world. However, it is our medicine – Chinese Medicine that changes the world. We are just the vehicles with which it occurs. We are the ones who are lucky enough to find ourselves in a position to learn this wonderful medicine. For me, her wisdom is a game changer – it changes my attitude about learning and making a difference.

I spot an e-mail from the electric company warning of an approaching storm and possible power outages. Snow may bury this house – and I hope it does, because I am with my family and the people I love most in this world. I am recharging my batteries in order to continue pushing on in (as I call it) “The Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Marathon!” When I stop to think about my journey thus far and the road left ahead, it’s scary, yet wonderful that I am nearly halfway through the marathon! It has gone by so fast – I can hardly believe it.

At least there are no pushups involved in Acupuncture boot camp!

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