Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

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NUHS interns treating patients’ pain in hospital with acupuncture


April 20, 2012
By Maria DiDanieli

April
11, Lombard, Ill.– National University of Health Sciences
(NUHS) announces that interns from its Master’s degree programs in acupuncture
and oriental medicine are now working in a clerkship program at John H.
Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook
County of the Cook County
Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS).  The
interns are treating patients with acupuncture in the hospital’s specialty
clinic for pain management.

Frank Yurasek, PhD (China), MSOM,
assistant dean for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at NUHS, was recently
appointed as an Attending Physician at the John H.  Stroger
Jr. Hospital,
supervising the NUHS interns and assisting in patient care.

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“This is a historic step for both
our university and the acupuncture profession. We are bringing acupuncture care
for chronic pain to one of the largest urban hospitals in the nation,” says Dr.
Yurasek. “We are demonstrating that oriental medicine can provide
cost-efficient and effective care in a western medical environment challenged
with a high volume of patients.”

Four NUHS interns were initially
scheduled to provide acupuncture for approximately 50 patients each
Thursday.  After just a few short weeks,
due to the initial success of the program and patient demand, the hospital has
already added acupuncture on Wednesdays to the clinic schedule as well.

Advantages of Integrative
Medicine

The new acupuncture clerkship
program reinforces NUHS’ commitment to integrative medicine. Integrative
medicine brings different health care specialties together in educational and
clinical environments so that they can combine their expertise for better
patient outcomes.

Maria L. Torres, MD, Chair of Pain
Services at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital says, “Multi-disciplinary pain
management means evaluating multiple modalities to treat patients in chronic
pain. I have a background in anesthesiology with a specialty in pain
management. I try to understand mechanisms of pain and use pharmacologic and
interventional therapy to treat patients. But we have to understand that pain
needs to be evaluated and treated in many different ways. That’s why we’ve
incorporated other specialties including psychiatry, psychology, acupuncture,
massage therapy and biofeedback.”

Patient Benefits

The true measure of the acupuncture
program’s success is the patients’ experience.

“Since we’ve added Dr. Yurasek and
his interns, I’ve frequently been stopped by acupuncture patients who report
great relief from chronic pain. In some of these cases, this is very refreshing
to hear, because these are people who have been suffering with chronic pain
syndrome for a long time,” says Dr. Torres.

Many patients with chronic pain must spend
months or years on opiates or other pain medications that often have negative
side effects. Acupuncture provides a secondary benefit to chronic pain patients
in that it is virtually free of side effects. Dr. Torres says, “The patients’
benefits have certainly been reduction of pain, but also an increase in their
quality of life. They can functionally perform better and minimize the amount
of medications they take.”

To further explore patient benefits,
the clinic has set aside a group of patients receiving acupuncture that the
clinic will track over time in order to evaluate long-term benefits such as
actual reduction in medications used.

Internship Advantages

In addition to providing NUHS’
student interns with work experience in an integrative medical setting, interns
in the Stroger clerkship also benefit from treating a wider variety of patient
conditions than they might otherwise see in NUHS’ suburban campus clinic.  The daily patient roster may include gunshot
and burn victims, pre-surgical knee and shoulder patients, cancer patients with
bone pain, cases of HIV neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, stroke, headache and
more.

“I wouldn’t trade this experience
for anything,” says NUHS intern Greer Nesbit, who will graduate with her Master
of Science in Oriental Medicine degree this April. “We’re seeing real life
situations that we wouldn’t experience at school.  There is a wide range of different
pathologies, and we’re forced to think outside the box and think very quickly.
Since we’ve been there, the demand for our service is quadrupling. We have a
lot of returning patients because it’s working, and doctors are referring more,
especially in cases where nothing else seems to help.”

“Another benefit to the educational
piece is that the education flows both ways,” says Dr. Torres. “Dr. Yurasek and
the NUHS interns will provide review lectures for the rest of our staff on the
proper use of and referral for acupuncture in patients with chronic pain.”

David Parish, DC, dean of clinics
for NUHS, says: “We’ve been working hard to expand the number of hospital
rotations and clerkships for our interns. We are very excited to have our
acupuncture and oriental medicine students challenged by the dynamic
environment provided by Stroger
Hospital. We look forward
to a long and successful partnership in providing care for the residents of Cook County.”

 

For more information on NUHS programs, please
visit www.nuhs.edu.