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Natural Awakenings Tucson

The School of Healing

Jul 02, 2013 07:20PM ● By Jon D’Auria

The Arizona School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ASAOM) offers unique opportunities to its students to learn ancient Eastern methods of restorative healing. In 1996, when the Arizona School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine first opened its doors, it was the only school of its kind in Arizona and much of the Southwest. After 17 years and many graduated practitioners and healed patients, the trend of acupuncture and Oriental medicine has spread like wildfire all over the world. While the two methodologies have been practiced for centuries in the east, Dr. David Epley, the founder and president of ASAOM, believed in how powerful and restoring these methods are and knew that Tucson would be a perfect place to help spark the movement.

“This medicine is the medicine of the future–one patient at a time,” says Epley. “We’re training and graduating students that are going on to carry out the next wave of this healing. We’ve turned out hundreds of practitioners who have gone on to do amazing things in their communities. We’re concerned with not only branches, but also the roots, in contrast to conventional medicine, which is usually concerned with just branches. We want to learn the deeper causes and not just supply a quick fix for the problem.”

The school offers three fields of study, including the Master’s Degree in Acupuncture, Master’s Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the Certificate in Asian Bodywork Therapy and Tuina. While each field provides a comprehensive curriculum with hours of training on the specific subject, every student learns the entirety of every practice offered. This varies greatly from other schools of the same curriculum and helps ASAOM produce more diversified practitioners.

“We want to make sure that our students understand what the process is to becoming a practitioner. It’s a very rigorous program, and I can tell because on top of my role here, I am also a student,” explains Admissions Director Bob Chasan. “We teach a full complement of medicine here, so not only are you going to learn the acupuncture, you’re going to learn about herbal medicine and the bodywork we teach here called Tuina, which is an ancient Chinese medical massage. We also teach medicine, nutrition and philosophy. Anyone walking out of our school should be able to handle just about any case that crosses their threshold.”

To help season the students for real-world experience in patient treatment and the practice of acupuncture, the school offers a clinic that is open to the public where anyone can receive top-notch healing and massage from students that are led by their teachers. If the popularity of the clinic is any indication, it appears that the community is overwhelmingly satisfied with the relief and vitality that they gain from the services.

“We never have any shortage of patients in the clinic and our schedule is constantly booked up,” says Chasan. “People every day are discovering these medicines and methods. It used to be that Eastern medicine was a last resort to a problem, and that has brought so many people over to it once they see how effective it is. That’s a large part of how we get students, they have a breakthrough treatment and they want to dedicate themselves to the practice.”

The number of Eastern medicine practitioners constantly expands with the new demands and popularity of the field, and as more and more success stories get widespread attention, the more people want to be able to heal others with the methods. However, the programs at ASAOM put their students through rigorous training that takes a truly determined scholar to complete.

“It is not an easy thing to go through at all. If you’re interested in becoming a student of this school, we’ll first have you come in and visit with us and we’re going to describe the environment and we’ll have you sit in on a class or two,” says Chasan. “You’ll go to our clinic to get some treatments so you can see what it’s like. We require an essay describing why you are interested in this practice. We use these for when people may ask ‘Why am I here?’ when things are getting difficult with their studies or if they feel overwhelmed. We show them and say ‘This is why you’re here.’”

With the recent addition of night classes, students can work toward their degree while continuing their busy lives without skipping a beat. Financial aid is available to qualified individuals, and last year the school was rated in the top 15 percent of all military-friendly schools. With so much momentum fueling his passion of furthering the reach of natural healing, Epley and his staff keep their focus fixed on what matters most in medicine, and that is connecting with their patients and healing with energetic compassion.

“This field is based on the understanding of vitalism, which explains that there is a light force and a healing energy that we can access, and this medicine helps us do this,” says Epley. “Our practitioners heal our patients and teach them how to continue to heal themselves. Taoism plays a huge role in our system with its understanding that in essence, the results come from beyond ourselves.”

Arizona School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is located at 4646 E. Fort Lowell Rd. For more information, enrollment and clinic bookings, call 520-795-0787 or visit

Jon D’Auria is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.

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