NCCAOM News - Summer Issue (Plain Text Version)

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Summer Issue Spotlight

Spotlight on: Melissa B. Smith, AP Acupuncture Physician MSAOM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)

Melissa Smith, is a nationally board certified physician in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is a Diplomate with the NCCAOM, and is licensed through the Florida Board of Health.

Question 1:  Describe your journey to becoming an Acupuncture Physician:

Answer: Being a healer has been a lifelong calling for me. As a child, I set my intention to be a doctor, and did everything I could in each phase of my life to have the experiences and education to make that dream a reality. I volunteered at local hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, shadowed physicians and participated actively in Medical Explorers.  In my undergraduate education, I majored in biology and pre-medicine and continued my volunteer work and assisted doing research with a clinical psychologist at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital. With the intention of gaining more experience and exposure to medicine, I completed a summer of intensive training and worked at Sacred Heart Hospital as a nursing assistant and EKG technician. After working full time in a very busy and stressful medical setting, I realized in my heart that I wanted to be able to spend more time with the patients than was possible for me in the current medical model. Maintaining my heart in medicine is very important to me. I came to realize the importance of taking the time to really sit, listen and care for each patient as being essential in their healing process. I feel passionately about being able to take the time to truly care for those individuals who come to me for healing. After taking a class on the philosophy of Chinese Medicine in undergrad and studying and experiencing the healing power of Chinese Medicine first hand while attending the naturopathic medical program at Bastyr University, I realized, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) had everything I wanted to offer to patients.

I graduated cum laude with a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, a four year liberal arts college founded in 1867. After which time, I studied for three years at Bastyr University, a Naturopathic Medical school in Seattle Washington, where I focused on whole foods cooking and nutrition, diet therapy,acupuncture and massage. Two of those three years were spent studying western sciences on a doctorate level. Following that, I graduated from the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine (SIOM) in 2004, one of the top schools in the country, renowned for its apprentice style and clinical training for Acupuncturists and Chinese Herbalists.  My focus at SIOM was herbal medicine and acupuncture in the treatment of gynecological disorders, specifically the treatment of infertility and endometriosis, as well as the treatment of fibromyalgia and skin conditions. I also spent five years translating Medical Chinese.

Question 2: How has your Western medicine training benefited your current practice?  

Answer:  My training in Western medicine has enabled me to be a better diagnostician as well as being able to identify red flags and triage patients to the best of my scope of practice, making appropriate referrals to other practitioners and ensuring patients are receiving the best care possible. I feel that my Western medicine training is essential to being able to understand and communicate with patients and the other practitioners on their health care team.

Question 3: Why did you pursue an NCCAOM certification?

Answer: I pursued an NCCAOM certification as part of passing the certification exams for licensure; I appreciated the high standard that must be attained to hold these credentials.

Question 4: How does your NCCAOM certification set you apart from non-Diplomates?

Answer:  I feel the certification offers a degree of certainty that I have been educated, trained and documented achievement to a high standard  within our professional community, which includes maintaining that standard with my recertification.

Question 5: How do your patients value your certification?

Answer: Patients want to feel comfortable knowing that I, as their practitioner, have a certain level of accountability as far as maintaining a high level of continuing education credits as well as passing a comprehensive exam initially. These achievements exceed what the state requires so patients have the comfort of knowing I have chosen to go above and beyond the minimum state requirement as a professional in the field.

Question 6: What would you say to new practitioners regarding the value of achieving NCCAOM Diplomate status?

Answer:  I believe the exam and the requirements to maintain Diplomate status provides me with a competitive edge as a practitioner. Meeting and maintaining this baseline for excellence as a medical professional offers a way to document my competency as a health care provider to my patients and my colleagues in the health care industry.

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