HW: Grand Junction woman earns doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine
April L. Schulte-Barclay’s name recently became even longer.
On Aug. 29, Schulte-Barclay received her clinical doctorate degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, Ore., enabling her to add the acronym DAOM to the end of her name.
“I studied with some of the most famous doctors in the U.S. and the world,” said Schulte-Barclay, who received her undergraduate degree at Mesa State College before getting her master’s degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine from the same Oregon college where she got her doctorate. “It enriched my education and experiences.”
Schulte-Barclay opened Healing Horizons Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine four years ago in Grand Junction and helped found the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado a year ago.
A 1994 Grand Junction High School graduate, Schulte-Barclay grew up a dancer. She initially planned to become a doctor specializing in sports and dance-related injuries or problems. Her fascination with the healing power of acupuncture and Oriental herbs led her to bypass becoming an orthopedic doctor, instead focusing on becoming a licensed practitioner of Oriental medicine.
To earn her doctorate, Schulte-Barclay commuted to Portland from Grand Junction once a month for 26 months. She continued to work at Healing Horizons as well as Integrative Medical Center.
Schulte-Barclay said she knows of only one other acupuncturist and practitioner with a doctorate degree in Oriental medicine in the state.
Most practitioners of Oriental medicine, of which acupuncture is a component, practice with master’s degrees. There are about 10 such practitioners in Grand Junction.
Schulte-Barclay emphasized that she is not a primary care physician, but works with physicians to supplement care for people suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and lower back pain.
“I like to combine Western medicine with Chinese medicine,” Schulte-Barclay said.
Treating diabetic patients is a passion of Schulte-Barclay’s, who did her dissertation on using acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Western medicine to treat metabolic problems such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
“(Oriental) medicine steps outside the little box that Western medicine sees conditions in,” Schulte-Barclay said.
“(Oriental) medicine is more holistic.”
And it’s older.
According to Schulte-Barclay, Oriental medicine is between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, compared to Western medicine which has yet to celebrate its 200th birthday.
Holistic medicine means practitioners use the whole body to treat one problem, so a lingering problem such as “tennis elbow” could be related to digestive or sleeping issues. It’s a foreign concept for many Americans to see how a pain in one part of the body could be linked to a problem in another area of the body, Schulte-Barclay said.
Achieving qi (or chi) is essential to the practice of Oriental medicine, she said.
“Acupuncture is used to unblock the pathways to promote well-being and return a person back to health,” she said.
Schulte-Barclay said she feels responsible for educating the general public and physicians about the benefits of Oriental medicine.
The first step in education is to dispel myths.
“Acupuncture does not hurt,” she said. “It seems like it would, but the needles are so thin and go in so quickly.”
People assume acupuncture is painful because images of people covered from head to toe in needles filter around, Schulte-Barclay said.
On average, she uses eight needles per patient. The needles are never reused, and patients rarely bleed because the needles are so small — much smaller than sewing needles.
In addition, Oriental medicine is not affiliated with religion just as Western medicine is not affiliated with religion.
The Integrative Medical Center will host an open house in October. To learn more about the center, visit http://www.imcwc.com.