Ten Thousand Things
— Barbara de la Torre, MD, FAAMA, Board Member
Giving birth to One…
There’s a jaw-dropping sense of wonder and excitement when you discover a new way of seeing the world. Remember how that felt when you started medical training? Think back to the time you started to study Western medicine. Discovering organ systems, physiology, pathology, and all the reasons that make humans so extraordinary. Or cultivating how you can make a difference in the world by making an impact on the health of individuals and communities. Being a physician is a profession rich with history and legacy. But the bottom line is to be an effective healer.
Now recall the time in your life when the spark of inspiration faded into the fractured state of the health care system. You graduated with amazing skills in observation, technical abilities, and leadership. You delved into gathering information, performing procedures and focusing on problem solving. You expected, as your training promised, that you would be directing care, only to find out your autonomy eroded over the last several decades into data entry, bureaucracy, shorter visits, and the missing patient narrative.
One gives birth to Two…
This brings you to a second stage of wonder when you first discovered the world of Chinese medicine. What brought you to expand outside the system holding the modern scientific method? Was it burnout, curiosity or your own direct experience with acupuncture?
Your reverence for both acupuncture and Chinese medicine, while still valuing the wonders of Western medical training, are at the heart of why Medical Acupuncture should be an integral part of medical education.
Put yourself in the shoes of future doctors in medicine. What if medical students could learn what we know now from the very beginning? What if medical education embraced Medical Acupuncture? Do you think it’s possible? After all, at the end of 2022, it’s seeming like nothing ever changes.
But what if I told you that I traveled back to my alma mater in November 2022 to give a talk on acupuncture to medical students, faculty and the public?
I spent months preparing for this lecture, hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. Would they be receptive to the idea of learning acupuncture as a part of practicing modern medicine? Would they object to a blended discipline we all know as Medical Acupuncture? Would they dismiss it altogether?
Two gives birth to Three…
The response was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, the students were the very best part of the trip. One medical student said: “Just to see that there are other ways of practicing medicine and helping patients has been a wonderful opportunity to learn and to see that there is more out there. Prior to this, I didn’t know too much about acupuncture or that physicians could do acupuncture.”
I had lunch with seven medical students the day after the talk to learn about their stories. Each student shared what inspired them to pursue medicine and where they hoped to be in the next five years. The greatest reward was to capture their imagination in that moment of their sense of wonder with Western medicine by introducing Chinese medicine, not as an alternative, but as an additional way of knowing and being.
Three Becomes Ten Thousand Things…
The birth of knowledge that we hold dear as physicians is born in stages. The birth of a movement to transform medicine into a blended practice like Medical Acupuncture is possible with each one you sharing your sense of wonder with others. This is what gives birth to ten thousand things.
Wishing you a safe, restful and joyous holiday into the new year.
 Inspired by Dao De Jing, Chapter 42