Oriental medicine practice and utilization in America is in such an exciting period of growth and expansion, and I feel so blessed to be in practice at this time. I did my training in the mid 1990’s in Miami, FL and got my license in early 1997. The times have changed so much, on every front, that many of my students seem so shocked when I tell them stories ‘of the old days’, even though in the grand scheme of things, it was not that long ago.
The most vital aspect of this is the massive increase in awareness of and interest in all aspects of oriental medicine that regular and average citizens have. This has occurred rapidly and exponentially. One benefit of this is that doctors and large medical institutions have followed along. Sometimes driven from the patient level up, and other times because high level accreditations have begun requiring integrative methodologies and integrative medicine departments. And acupuncture is at the top of the list of the most required and desired integrative practices.
I ran a private practice, renting clinical space, in a community hospital based breast cancer center because of a fabulous and progressive Medical Director there. We began this in 2005 and this continued and thrived until 2015, when the hospital created a fully comprehensive Integrative Medicine Department. It was quite a journey and project, with many trials and tribulations to get to that point, but I am since then happily part of a full department and a well supported program. I am a full time employee along with a full support staff, a second, part time acupuncturist, a nurse practitioner, and a full time Integrative Medicine Doctor, trained by Andrew Weil. We partner with other departments and programs throughout the hospital that provide massage, yoga, diet and nutrition, mindful meditation, and exercise.
Integrative practice, whether hospital based or not, is not suited for everyone, nor is everyone suited for it. I love it and find it compelling and stimulating, but it also has challenges and requires compromises. TCMzone has asked me to do a webinar with them this month. I will be sharing and providing a wide spectrum of information about hospital based integrative acupuncture practice, including aspects of my own experience. I will cover the major topics for those curious about hospital based practice. In a second webinar, also this month, I will cover necessary components and attributes of good quality professional medical records. This is a vital aspect that we must all strive to do well, especially as we seek greater utilization and more respect by patients and the overall health care system.
Since 2000, I have been a teacher at several schools in our profession, all in Florida. I absolutely love being a teacher. I teach in the classroom and continuing education. I have learned so much from teaching and preparing lectures. I have learned so much from my students. The interaction in the classroom and in seminars is invigorating, and every year the enthusiasm, passion and drive of those in our profession increases. As someone in the later portion of their career, this is beautiful and I can only imagine how much further they will all take us.
From 2004 to 2010 I had the pleasure to serve as President of the Florida State Oriental Medicine Association (FSOMA). This was an amazing experience and I learned so much and met so many people, all working hard to spread the word and power of oriental medicine, helping us all move forward and come out of the shadows. FSOMA recently decided to undertake an expensive and difficult task, to challenge the Florida Board of Physical Therapy that had decided to add ‘dry needling’ to their scope. This took great courage and hard work, and required that lots of money be raised. Just days ago the judge for the case ruled that the Board of Physical Therapy overstepped their authority and ruled against their ability to add ‘dry needling’. The judge ALSO ruled that ‘dry needling’ IS acupuncture. This is huge. And this is all extra special because too often acupuncturists do not adequately or consistently enough step forward and donate the kind of money these issues and battles require. This topic is likely not done here in Florida, but the good news is that it has stirred us up and unified us.
Going in to my 22nd year of being licensed and practicing, I have seen and learned and experienced many things. All the way from the days when acupuncturists were arrested for practicing, to having patients of mine tell me that their doctors told them not to do acupuncture. I have seen the amount of licensees in Florida triple and the myths and misconceptions of acupuncture fade away. It is an exciting time for us all and the future will only bring more.
It is a delight to be a webinar presenter for TCMzone. TCMzone has recorded versions of webinars we have done in the past, available for earning CEUs and NCCAOM PDA’s, including the required topics of Ethics and Safety, including Herbal Safety.