Posted on: Thursday, 10 February 2005, 21:00 CST
by Rachel Baruch Yackley
"Not only does this mean better care for all patients, but it opens up a whole new range of occupations for people wanting to work in medicine"
In the medical world, "integrated medicine" is a new term we are starting to hear, more and more.
If you are not yet familiar with integrated medicine, it is the combination of what has been referred to as alternative medicine and western medicine - that with which we are all familiar.
Integrated medicine combines the latest medical advances with ancient healing systems such as acupuncture, ayurveda, reiki, Chinese herbology, and much more.
Not only does this mean better care for all patients, but it opens up a whole new range of occupations for people wanting to work in medicine.
Different types of modalities
A long list of available alternative therapies exist, many of which are now recognized practices that are accepted by conventional medical doctors as valid treatments. Among these are: chiropractic; homeopathy; massage; naturopathy; traditional Chinese medicine; aromatherapy; hydrotherapy; reflexology; shiatsu; yoga; and many more (an extensive list can be found at www.naturalhealers.com).
This won't hurt a bit
Oriental medicine includes acupuncture, which, when practiced by a trained and licensed acupuncturist, is a safe, highly successful treatment, which really doesn't hurt a bit.
Using an energetic rather than a biochemical model of medicine, ancient Chinese practitioners discovered that energy flows along pathways called meridians, each of which is associated with a physiological system and an internal organ. They believed dis-ease occurs when a deficiency or imbalance of energy exists in the meridians.
Acupuncture points are specific sites along the meridians, and each point effects the vital energy, or qi, which passes through that point. Modern science has actually been able to measure the electrical charge at these points, and has corroborated on the locations of the meridians.
Support from the big guys
Georgiy Lifschits is a licensed acupuncturist at Gathering Valley Center in Skokie - an acupuncture, massage, and Chinese herbs clinic. He has been a practicing acupuncturist for 10 years in the United States, and prior to that, for 15 years in Russia.
Over the past 10 years, Lifschits has experienced a definite increase in clients, which he said is due, in part, to recognition of this therapy by insurance companies. In fact, Lifschits was able to finally join an insurance network about four years ago. This acknowledgment and support from insurance companies has been becoming available for several alternative therapies.
According to the Natural Healers web site, the World Health Organization (WHO) now recognizes acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine as valid treatments for numerous common ailments including: peptic ulcer; constipation; anorexia; urinary tract infections; infertility; premenstrual syndrome; respiratory disorders; disorders of the bones, muscles, joints and nervous system; circulatory disorders such as angina pectoris and arteriosclerosis; emotional and psychological disorders; additions; and much more.
More than half of the states, including Illinois, regulate Oriental medicine and acupuncture. In Illinois, there are formal schooling requirements in order to obtain NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) certification, and in order to practice acupuncture, one must pass the NCCAOM examination. At least 32 states use NCCAOM Certification as the main examination criteria for licensure.
Detailed information on these requirements is available from" Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, 320 W. Washington St., Springfield, IL 62786, (217) 782-8556.
Where there's a will, there's a school
Not surprisingly, the western world is responding to the increased interest in these alternative therapies, and more and more schools are adding coursework and even degrees in several of these modalities. One local school is: Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, (branch campus) 4334 N. Hazel, Chicago, 60613, (773) 975- 1295. This is an ACAOM accredited school that offers a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine.
Another local school is: Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, (branch campus) 3646 N. Broadway, Chicago, 60613, (773) 477-4822. This is also an ACAOM accredited school which offers a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine; a Diploma of Acupuncture; and a Diploma of Traditional Oriental Medicine.
In addition, several area colleges, including Northwestern University, Rush Medical College, and University of Illinois at Chicago, offer coursework in alternative and complementary medicine, holistic health care, and more.
Many acupuncture schools prefer their applicants have a bachelor's degree prior to applying to their programs. All ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) accredited schools require at least two years of previous undergraduate study.
Believe it or not, financial assistance is available to students who attend colleges accredited by the ACAOM.
Lifschits, who has a Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from University of Wisconsin in Racine, said that at the time he attended the program, it took five years to complete, but now he believes it to be a four year program.
See what's out there
If you think you might be interested in a career in alternative or integrated medicine, take the time to visit what's already out there.
Healing Junction, 2622 N. Halsted St., Chicago, (773) 880-9120, is a great place to start, as it offers integrated health care, combining western and several different complementary therapies.
Kirk Moulton, a licensed acupuncturist at this location, said, "I treat asthma, migraines, infertility, digestive disorders, and so much more. In China, someone with my training is considered a primary care physician."
Moulton is a big proponent of acupuncture as a health care occupation, and said that everything from the affordable education to the availability of state licensure, is helping to make this a growing profession.
- Rachel Baruch Yackley is a Daily Herald Correspondent. If you have an idea for a future health care story or topic, please email: healthcarepulse@@dailyherald.com
Source: Daily Herald; Arlington Heights, Ill.