Why you should care about your Doctor’s Continuing Education

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Listen, graduate medical education is serious business. After completing medical school, passing boards, and finishing residency or other post-grad education requirements to start a medical career, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation to sit on one’s laurels and breathe a sigh of relief to “never have to take that class again.” Legally, medical providers are required to complete Continuing Education on a periodic basis, with a set number of hours and topics as outlined by their profession’s governing body and/or state and local ordinances. That said, it is incredibly easy to find mediocre “fluff” continuing education content which will meet the minimum requirements and provide approximately zero value. This can lead to Providers never really expanding their knowledge beyond what they learned in school.

This scenario brings to mind a dear friend of mine, an OR Nurse, sharing that there is a surgeon who has been practicing for over 30 years who still performs a specific surgery the way he learned it well over 30 years ago, even though significantly safer, faster, more effective, and longer lasting surgical techniques have been developed and are utilized daily by other surgeons in the same OR. This is not to say that every provider needs to be on the bleeding edge of every new medical discovery, but it is a gentle reminder that we Medical Providers need to ensure that we are staying up to date within our fields, and with other collaborative fields, to ensure that we are providing the safest and most effective options available to our patients.

As a Primary Care Provider, I take great care in selecting Continuing Education that will help me develop my professional skills as well as support the growth of my practice so that I can offer my patients customized integrative care for their health needs. This year, I’m focused on expanding my acupuncture technique & herbal medicine knowledge. So far, I’ve enrolled in (and/or completed) the following continuing education courses:

  • Classical Strategies for Effective Herbal Formulation – a 14-month certificate course taking a deep dive into herbal formulation, from classical formulas to individual ingredients, to help practitioners achieve a more nuanced understanding of custom formulation to treat conditions ranging from Common Cold to Rheumatoid Arthritis. This course is taught by renowned herbal expert Heiner Fruehauf and I am beyond thrilled to be learning from a living master. Even after one class, I’ve already taken away invaluable content that has re-shaped how I custom formulate herb prescriptions for my patients and even the nutrition recommendations I make (Food Is Medicine).
  • Body pain classes with Orthopedic Acupuncture expert Whitfield Reaves. These classes focused on quick and effective acupuncture, cupping, and electro-stim techniques to treat some of the most common orthopedic complaints I see in my office: Low Back Pain, Neck & Shoulder Pain (& Postural Issues – hello Tech Neck!), and Knee Pain & Instability.
  • Nourishing Every Cell: Kiiko Matsumoto Style Strategies for Gastrointestinal Issues – An incredible opportunity to learn (from another living legend) various palpation and acupuncture treatment techniques for GI ailments such as GERD, SIBO, Fatty Liver, Gallstones, Constipation, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and even some unexpected topics such as Type 2 Diabetes, Autoimmune, and Rosacea.

These courses provided immediate value to me and my patients and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from these experts of their crafts. There is no better feeling than seeing a patient hop off the table feeling pain-free and beaming with gratitude.

So I encourage you, dear reader, to ask all of your medical providers what continuing education they’ve done recently or what upcoming continuing education they’re excited about. Are they just doing the bare minimum as required by their hospital system or medical group? Are they focused on which color trashbin to use or what pill they can prescribe from the class they took sponsored by that pharmaceutical rep? Or are they seeking out topics that they’re excited about and relevant to the care needs you have?

Remember, it is OK to change providers, it is ok to ask providers what their area of expertise or specialty is, it is ok to seek out a provider who has expertise in your condition and continues to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in managing and treating your condition. You have a say in your health care.

Want to learn more about how we can work together to treat your health concerns? Schedule a Complimentary Consultation or Book a Session now!

Is My Doctor Even Listening to Me?

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Has this ever happened to you? 

You’re sitting at the doctors office and everyone is buzzing around you, barely making eye contact. The nicest person you interact with is the Medical Assistant who takes vitals and then tells you the doctor will be in shortly.

The doctor eventually walks in, sits down at a keyboard and begins to ask you a series of questions you’ve already answered, peppered with personal questions that may be wildly inappropriate – such as “how is your husband” when you’ve been married to your wife for over 5 years and your relationship is clearly documented in your chart – and when you finally have a moment to share your own questions and concerns, they’re ultimately dismissed as “normal.”

[sidenote: common and normal are not the same thing. Having diarrhea 2-4x/day may be common for certain populations, but it’s not normal].

As someone who has had their fair share of these types of experiences working with health care professionals for my own medical needs, one of the most important aspects of my practice is actually listening to my patients. I strive to be present and partner with my patients to help them move toward achieving their health goals. No person is a statistic. No person is a diagnosis. People are multifaceted and complex and living their lives on their own terms.  

My personal hopes for my patients and my patients actual goals may vary wildly. This is why it is incredibly important that I listen to and partner with them to meet the goals they have in a manner that is sustainable and ultimately successful for them.  

I practice Integrative East Asian Medicine. A part of what makes my practice integrative is educating patients about their current health status and how they can address their concerns. This may look like relieving chronic pain, reducing IBS flares, or treating PCOS using East Asian Medicine and also within the Western Medical system. I arm my patients with education, data and scripts to empower them to advocate for their needs and their health goals with me and with their western medicine providers.  

If you feel like you are not being listened to by your health care provider, I encourage you to book a 15-minute complimentary consultation or book your first appointment so we can begin to partner to help you feel your best.

Acupuncture for PCOS

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Recently, I’ve had a number of discussions with folks who have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) who are trying to navigate how to manage their condition. PCOS can present with a variety of symptoms and each person has their own mix of symptom presentation. That said, the treatment options within the Western Medicine paradigm are often hormonal birth control, ovulation triggering hormones (if the person is trying to become pregnant), and/or diabetes medications. There is understanding that diet and lifestyle changes can also help to manage the symptoms but in my experience, most folks who are working with a gynecologist are prescribed some sort of hormone or endocrine “regulating” medication to manage the condition as opposed to being advised to start diet and lifestyle modification. These medications may provide relief of symptoms but often do not address to the underlying cause of the PCOS and when a person stops taking their medications, symptoms usually return.

PCOS is a condition that is often well managed with East Asian Medicine (EAM) which includes acupuncture, herbal formulas, and nutrition and lifestyle modifications. When I work with PCOS patients, I asses their individual symptoms as well as their health goals — whether it’s preventing or encouraging pregnancy, reducing acne, managing weight, or any other symptoms they’re having. Once we are clear on where the patient is and where they want to be, we make a plan together. These plans typically includes regular acupuncture as well as herbal formulas custom created for their symptoms. One of the reasons that EAM is so powerful at treating PCOS is that each approach is customized to the person that is being treated. This means we do not treat symptoms you do not have and we do not ignore symptoms that cannot be treated by the available drugs.

My training is in Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine so I am also happy to work closely with a patient’s current care team to compliment the existing treatment plan for symptom management.

Since PCOS is a long-standing condition, it will take time to get symptoms under control and move toward each persons health goals. That said, when working with a Licensed Acupuncturist, the results are often long-lasting and worth the effort.

If you have PCOS and are looking for alternatives to pharmaceutical options, or are interested in how Acupuncture can support the treatments you’re already undergoing, I encourage you to Book an Appointment or schedule a Complimentary 15-minute Consultation to learn more about how we can work together to manage your PCOS and resolve your symptoms.

Books I Devoured in 2022

In 2022 I managed to read 39 books which is a pretty impressive feat considering I was finishing my doctorate, studying for (and passing) my licensing exams, and starting a business. Whew!

Here are some of my favorite books that I read in 2022. This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission, no additional cost to you, when you make a purchase from Bookshop.org using my affiliate links.

I’m so excited to continue my voracious reading habit in 2023 and hope to read at least 50 books this year.

What Can Licensed Acupuncturists Do (in California)?

The state of California has deemed Licensed Acupuncturists Primary Care Providers. This means that you can see a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) without a referral from an MD or other provider. This is great news because it means you can find the right Acupuncturist for you and you are not limited to your Doctor or Health Insurance network (though you may have to pay out of pocket if you see an L.Ac. who is not in your network and/or does not take health insurance).

While many folks who are unfamiliar with Acupuncture may think that all we do is create human pincushions (sometimes it’s true :)) we have a wide variety of tools in our toolkit to partner with you to meet you health goals.

L.Ac.’s in CA can perform acupuncture, acupressure, bodywork [such as Tui Na (a form of Chinese massage) or Shiatsu], cupping, moxibustion (burning dried mugwort near the skin for various therapeutic effects), and electro-acupuncture. We can counsel on diet and lifestyle, prescribe herbal formulas and exercise regimens, and we can even order lab testing!

In general, L.Ac.’s in CA are required to have a Master’s Degree in order to sit for board exams and practice acupuncture. As a Licensed Acupuncturist with a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine, I have taken my education even further, expanding my knowledge beyond the minimum necessary to encompass western/biomedical disease diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management. This additional training helps me better understand your condition and partner with your integrative care team to support your health goals.

If you’d like to learn more about what what I do, how I work, and how I can partner with your western medical care team to support your health goals, feel free to book a Complimentary 15-minute Consultation or if you’re ready to come in and start working together, you can book an appointment here.

Be well.

Should I get Acupuncture if I’m not injured or sick?

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The short answer is YES!

I was chatting with a guest at my daughter’s birthday party when they casually asked “I’m pretty healthy and have no complaints, why would I get acupuncture?” and it kind of caught me off guard. Having spent the last handful of years living and breathing Acupuncture & Integrative East Asian Medicine (EAM), I had to take a step back and remember that most of us grew up in a health and wellness system that is focused on treating something that is wrong rather than preventing something from going wrong in the first place.

So, why should you (or anyone) get periodic Integrative East Asian Medicine treatments if you do not have an injury or illness? Because it can help prevent injury and/or illness from occurring AND, when the inevitable does happen (this is life, after all), it can lessen the severity of symptoms and shorten recovery time.

I want to be clear here that I am not saying that you should be permanently beholden to getting weekly acupuncture if you’re perfectly healthy. I believe any acupuncturist worth seeing should be able to estimate the number and frequency of treatments necessary to reach and maintain your health goals. But just as we periodically get our hair trimmed (even when our hair isn’t sick or injured), having periodic acupuncture can help you maintain your health and possibly feel even better (and, honestly, who doesn’t feel great after a trim, even if it’s only 1/2 an inch?).

So now you know, acupuncture is great for you, whether or not your are sick or injured, and is a great way for you to maintain your health and stay healthy longer. Ready for some self-care? Book a 30 or 60-minute session. Interested in learning more about how we can work together, book a Complimentary 15-minute Consultation.

Be well.

What to Expect during your visit – Part 2 the Follow-Up Visit

Once I’ve had an Initial Visit with a patient (see this post for more information about Initial Visits), then we move to Follow-Up visits on an agreed-upon cadence that the patient has autonomy and control over.

What I love about Follow-Up visits is that they allow for deeper exploration and treatment for the chief concern as well as constitutional issues that may need to be addressed. I typically recommend a set-series of Follow-Up visits to address the patient’s initial chief concern and then we adjust as new things come up or we need to move into maintenance mode.

In a typical situation, I recommend anywhere from 4-6 weekly treatments to address the patient’s chief concern with an re-evaluation after the last visit. If the patient’s health goals have been met, I recommend moving to maintenance mode and seeing them anywhere from 2-3x/month. Keep in mind, if a patient wants to continue to come for treatment weekly, that’s totally fine. I encourage bodily autonomy and decision making in my patients. I provide these recommended treatment plans so that folks don’t feel like they’re going to be “stuck” doing acupuncture forever. We have a tangible goal we are working toward and we will check in after the last recommended treatment to see how close we are to that goal and re-evaluate.

Follow-Up visits are also a great opportunity to try different modalities that we may not have been able to get to during an Initial visit. For example, perhaps e-stim (connecting acupoints to a small machine which conducts a very small amount of electricity to activate the muscles in the area — kind of like a TENS machine but for acupuncture needles). Or maybe we focus on a cupping and TuiNa treatment to get blood and fascia moving to open up the back or hips. Sometimes Follow-Up visits are really about just settling down and getting back into the body. During those types of visits, I will place the needles and give my patient ample time to relax and sink into the experience of the channels opening up and the free flow of qi.

As you can see, Follow-Up visits are a great way to continue to explore how Integrative East Asian Medicine works to help you achieve your heath goals. If you have questions about Follow-Up visits or want to learn more, please feel free to schedule a Complimentary 15 minute Consultation so that we can answer your questions and see if working together is a good fit.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

What to expect during your visit – Part 1 the Initial Visit

Every patient relationship starts with an Initial Visit. These appointments are approximately 75 minutes, which is longer than Follow-Up visits, and allow for full discussion of the patient’s primary concern as well as exploring their overall health and constitution.

One of the things I love most about practicing Integrative East Asian Medicine is that I am able to look at the whole person, not just the symptom(s), to get to the root cause of the issue and provide sustained relief as opposed to a temporary fix.

During an Initial Visit, I discuss the patient’s chief concern and then ask a series of whole-body questions to get a sense of the patient’s constitution and any other factors that may be contributing to their chief concern. I then look at the patient’s tongue and feel their pulse — this information is so informative within the East Asian Medicine paradigm that some practitioners don’t even ask the patient’s chief concern, they only look at tongue/pulse and treat from there, it’s that accurate!

Once I’ve completed the intake and tongue & pulse, I check-in with the patient about the treatment modalities I plan to do that day, answer any questions, and have the patient get on the table. Depending on the chief concern and other information I gather during the intake, I may do acupuncture only or acupuncture + other modalities such as moxibustion, cupping, or even bodywork — every initial treatment is customized to the individual patient.

If I’m doing an acupuncture-only, or acupuncture-first treatment, I put in between 2 and 6 points that I like to call “settling in” points which are meant to help regulate the nervous system and encourage the patient’s body to be receptive to the work we’ll be doing. The patient will lay comfortably on the table for 5-10 minutes with this first set of points and when I return I may add more points customized to the patient’s chief concern and/or constitution, or I may pull the needles and do some moxibustion, bodywork, or cupping. Typically during an Initial Visit, the patient receives about 30 minutes of acupuncture and/or bodywork.

After the Initial Visit, the patient will receive a Recommended Treatment Plan via email which will outline my proposed treatment plan to address their chief concern. This plan includes herbal formulation, nutrition and lifestyle, and even exercise recommendations (as relevant). I like to provide these Recommended Treatment Plans so that patients can see how we can best work together to achieve their health goals. These plans are recommendations and patients are empowered to do as much, or as little, of the plan as they desire. I partner with my patients to reach their health goals, I am not a drill sergeant who will force them to make changes they’re not ready for yet.

If you have questions about how Initial Appointments work or want to learn more, feel free to book a Complimentary 15-minute Consultation. If this was helpful and you’re ready to schedule, you can book your Initial Appointment.

I look forward to seeing you soon!