Sunday, October 19, 2008

Live! from the AAAOM Conference

As we wrap up this 5 day seminars, I wanted to share some thoughts of the highlights and low-lights of the conference.

Classical 5-Element Acupuncture with Judy Worsley
I was excited for this seminar.  I use some of the principle in treatment, but was looking for a deeper understanding of the diagnosis and treatment applications, and who better than to learn from.  To the devotees of 5-Element, Judy is a living first degree relic of their messiah. This was also her first conference and she admitted to reluctance and lack of tech-savvy which should have given the organizers pause.  This could have been a bang-up seminar and for the 5E folks, it probably was, but I left with the same knowledge I came in with.  Well, I did learn a lot about her personal life as lover, wife, and widow of her mentor JR Worsley and about general farming practices in the English countryside.  I was hoping for something along the lines of practical application of theory I had in school, but what I got was a half an hour of education and 7.5 hours of anecdotes and on-going audience questions and testimonials that kept the lecture from getting anywhere.  I now understand why it take 4 years to graduate from a 5E acupuncture program - they just keep feeling (without trying to feel) and never get to the point.  
Ethics with Michael Taromina and Betsy Smith
Ohh there is nothing like hearing horror stories from other well-intended practitioners to make you feel maybe flipping burgers would have been a safer career choice!  In all seriousness, Michael was a passionate, knowledgeable speaker and gave a great presentation on the updated code of ethics, risk-management strategies, and overview of the disciplinary process and how to avoid it.  We all need ethics CEU hours and I would say this was the most engaging and useful one I have ever attended. 

Day One
General Session with AAAOM board and special guest Josephine Briggs
As with most of these, there is a lot of introductions, thank yous, and audience commentary.  The bulk of the session discussed herbal initiatives and the state of research, opinions, and use of CAM in the US.  All very informative, however I still think we should focus our attention on uniform national accreditation title with state licensure, as with nurses, physicians, and PT models, but I have ranted on that score so often I am getting sick of the sound of my own keystrokes.

Every Little Bit Counts: Low Back Pain with Matt Bauer
Matt gave an excellent non-cookbook formula for the treatment of back pain.  Not only did he provide great treatment protocols, he also gave us a quick way to calculate the odds of treatment success.  Despite sounding a bit systematic, he is an intuitive practitioner and is more concerned with feeling the flow of energy than hitting a textbook point.  After his workshop, I learned I need to hunker down more with Medical Qi Gong - I think I am finally old enough to handle it. 

Day Two
Insurance Billing with Sam Collins
Wow.  This was the most useful lecture of the conference and I think my practice is going to move in a new direction in the coming months. One thing I adored about his presentation style was his ability to curtail extended questions and commentary - every minute of the presentation was packed with information and he was able to keep from being de-railed.  He also stayed 45-minutes after class to answer individual questions.  I plan on attending one of his seminars in the future and may even sign-up for the consulting service.  I had been investigating adding insurance to my list of services and this makes the process look at lot less daunting. (My frined who went to the Medications to Worry About seminar reported having a lot of good knowledge - I took a miss on it because my FNP Pharmacology class had me Cytochrome P-450'd out!)

Pain & Electroacupuncture with Lixing Lao
I was torn about taking this one as there was an Healing Upper Jiao seminar at the same time, but since my friend went to it (and loved it), I figured I could use the refresher.  There was a lot of review of literature which of course, appeals to my nursing sensibilities.  He provided clear rational for why we set frequencies at certain levels depending on the condition, distal and proximal point use, and electrode placement.  This was quite low-key and an excellent refresher to reinforce knowledge and competence.

Banquet Dinner with guest speaker Serman Chon
Good dinner, but expensive ($75!) if you did not get it as part of the 4-day seminar package. The speaker talked on the history and development of acupuncture education and law in the US and has done research in this area including personal interviews with many of the pioneers.  I suppose this was supposed to be inspiring, but basically what I got out of it is the entire basis for the educational programs of acupuncture schools in this country originated from 4 hippies in a bathroom.  We also could have had a clinical doctorate as an entry to practice almost from the get-go and it was our own who basically sabotaged it because they did not want to be "like western medicine."  I cold go on about this, but I am going to keep my foot stomping, eye-rolling, and sighing to a minimum - just know I am doing it.

Day Three:
Qi Gong with Jeff Nagal
Awesome way to get the day started - he explained theory in just the right amount and gave a great, balanced practice.  I would love to do a seminar with him, especially in light of the high reviews he received from the Upper Jiao seminar.

Scalp Acupuncture with  Xioatian Shen
This started late due to schedule misprint, but he managed to pack in a lot of great new information in a short periods of time.  Excellent case histories were presented and he was an engaging speaker.  I admit I have a personal prejudice that favors native Chinese educators since that is who I learned from.  There are defiantly some new strategies I will take home with me especially in the area of headaches.

Treating Allergies with Rong Shen Lin
Living in the Ohio valley, allergies are a year-long problem for many people.  It was only natural to sign-on for this  - review to come.