Leslie Smith holds a medical degree, and two masters degrees – one in physiology and biophysics and one in medical education and leadership. She chose to study Traditional Chinese Medicine after a serious accident prevented her from following her intended path as a surgeon. Her story was recently told through an in-depth interview on The Huffington Post.
The Chicago MD started in the medical community as a Western-trained physician, developing a repetitive stress injury that saw her turn to acupuncture. The relief she experienced was so great, she decided to make it her goal to become a Chinese medical practitioner. Despite spending most of her career in medical training, the best course of action for Smith was to receive the best TCM education. So she enlisted in acupuncture school.
“While it is safe for medical doctors to perform acupuncture,” she told the site, “—and there are a lot of good physician acupuncturists out there—I think they would get a more well-rounded education by going to acupuncture school. I think we should have a system that’s more like the one they have in China, where everyone goes to medical school and acupuncture is a residency, in the same way that cardiology is a residency.”
“Without learning hospital medicine, acupuncturists are only getting half of medicine,” she says. |And without learning the subtleties of Chinese nutrition therapy, herbs, and zang fu diagnosis, medical doctors get a limited education as well. Both professions are reasonable and viable the way they currently stand, but I think it would be better if we combined the two into one unit.”
Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine are slowly becoming more integrated, with many doctors referring patients to acupuncturists and vice versa. Both areas offer their own unique benefits, which Smith sums up perfectly:
“If my appendix bursts, I want my appendix taken out by a Western doctor. But for many conditions, there are ways we can treat people that don’t have the side effects of pharmaceuticals and surgery. That’s the real power of acupuncture. It gets rid of the underlying root problem so that all the branches—the headaches, the insomnia, the high blood pressure, the digestive issues, the back pain—go away. When the root gets cleared up, you don’t need medication anymore because all of these symptoms are coming from the same underlying problem.”
This is how the Acupuncture and Wellness Center approaches Traditional Chinese Medicine. As Smith says, for serious trauma, TCM cannot help and we always advise patients to visit an ER or their primary physician. For other cases there’s a viable, safe alternative to prescription medications or unnecessary procedures; acupuncture and herbs. We approach conditions by isolating the problem at the source, and build a treatment plan to directly target that root cause.
Image credit: Leslie Smith
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