It was the 2008 AAAOM Student Caucus in Chicago that showed me the expanse of this profession and the potential the future holds. I heard about the history of AOM in America and the obstacles ahead. It motivated me to volunteer with the AAAOM because I shared similar aspirations for what acupuncture’s future can be. As the presenter spoke so passionately about wanting insurance coverage, about not having a second job, and our potential to help people be healthy, they were goals that I wanted to support. Now after many years, I see that the future of our role in American healthcare is to join the movement to integrate with other modes of health for the benefit of the patient. It was certainly how I was raised.
Living in a Chinese household, Chinese medicine was naturally integrated into our daily life. My mother is a pharmacist and that meant a well-stocked medicine cabinet. Alongside the Claritin for allergies and Tylenol for pain were small boxes with Chinese characters. When I had stomach upset, I was told to take the small vial of brown pellets. When I cut myself, it was brown powder with a bandage. I still recall the earthy smell of the plasters my father used for his back pain and the expected chrysanthemum tea I was to drink as a child every summer. It took me years to realize I was using Chinese herbs and to understand why they were given to me. It was the best remedy for what ailed me, based on the knowledge my mother had. There was never a distinction between Western medicine or Chinese medicine; it was just medicine.
Because I have always been given the best of each modality, I continue to operate by that philosophy. I want to see further integration within the existing healthcare system. More people should be able to obtain our services if it is the best option for their condition. I want to make progress for our field in educating and defining our profession so the public and other healthcare providers understand what we can contribute while paying respect to the roots of this medicine and its strengths. It it through my service on the AAAOM Board of Directors that I hope to make progress on these goals for the profession.