I was an Asian Studies nerd from high school through grad school, where I ended up working on a doctorate in Buddhist Studies. Realizing that I actually had no interest in an academic career, I left graduate school to become an acupuncturist, enrolling at NIAOM in 1997. My initial interests in Chinese medicine were based on my years of study of Chinese and Japanese language, Daoism, and martial arts, so I started off with a heavy interest in being a scholar/physician, combing through classical texts and using herbs to treat complex internal medicine disorders.
And then . . . I started meeting and learning from practitioners, both within the field of TCM and western medicine, who specialized in orthopedics and sports medicine; practitioners who inspired and impressed me in a way that no one else had, giving me the feeling of “Wow, that’s who I want to be when I grow up.” There were many acupuncturists with martial arts backgrounds who specialized in tuina and other forms of manual medicine, physical therapists, occupational therapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors. I ended up falling in love with the immediacy and demanding intricacy of orthopedic and manual medicine. So now I combine acupuncture, tuina, other forms of manual medicine, herbs, and physical movement practices with all of my patients while I continue to discover massive blind spots and gaps in my knowledge that require further learning and study.
In 2010, I was given the opportunity to start teaching at the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine (now the Seattle Institute of East Asian Medicine), where I continue to learn about how blurry the line is between teaching, clinical practice, and personal cultivation.