In the seeming rush to maintain schedules, complete paperwork, and keep our patients from waiting, it is easy to allow our Clean Needle Technique (CNT) and hand washing protocols to become lax. We can become complacent and begin to cut corners or forget to maintain our standards. After all, the risk of infection with acupuncture needles is relatively minimal. This is risky business as it greatly increases the risk of infection, which, though low, is an ever-present liability. One way to overcome this potential slackening of our hygiene is to approach cleanliness and CNT as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. As practitioners of East Asian medical traditions we are often taught to consider the effect of our “intent” on the application of needles and to make “mindfulness” a part of our practice, but what does this mean?


Located in the center of the abdomen, referred to as the hara, reside the organs that give us life. In their center we find the navel, the Chinese acupuncture point CV 8 Shen Que, Spirit Gate, that refers to the place where we received that life from our mother by way of the umbilical cord. As such, these areas are the focal point of energy in our body from which life is given, sustained, and taken away.

Southwest Acupuncture College takes pride in the quality of education that it has provided to its students, the treatments it has offered to its patients, and the prestige that it has brought to the profession of the acupuncture and Oriental medicine for the last thirty-seven years. While the College recognizes the importance of ensuring that students are able to make informed choices about the cost of their education related to their projected income, the new Gainful Employment Regulations (GE) are an invalid measure of graduates’ earnings.  They do not take into account the reality of establishing an acupuncture practice, students’ choices after graduation, or the significance of student loan repayment data in determining gainful employment.

As a former research scientist, I am always bemused as I prepare for the Microsystems class. Each year, I prowl around the internet, searching in PubMed and other scholarly sources for good data on the effects of the various microsystems and techniques that I cover during the semester. And each year, I run into the formidable puzzle of the sham control.

The sham control is, in theory, a great idea. A person responding to an acupuncture treatment might just be responding to the idea of an acupuncture treatment, a placebo effect. Naturally, we want to rule this out, so we need a control group for comparison. The best control group would think they received the same treatment, but actually didn’t, so the psychological factors would be the same. Any difference between the groupswould be best explained by the treatment itself.

SWAC Boulder faculty member, Jennifer Leonard, has been bringing her bright light to our campus in the form of a free Mind/Body lunchtime workshop every other Thursday for six sessions. We are halfway through the series and I am happy to see the consistent turnout of students, faculty, and staff taking the time to connect, commune, breathe, and dance. I never miss the opportunity to take a much needed respite from our busy SWAC schedules. I feel it has brought a deeper sense of community to those in attendance. Allowing ourselves to be quiet and vulnerable in a group is very powerful, as we share in the exercises, which are solitary, yet also give something back to each person in the room.

CS: What did you have to do to get the business going?

ERB: I had to save a little money for start-up. I invested about $7,000 in the beginning. I did (and still do) everything possible to keep my costs low. My office is small but functional. I use free EMR (electronic medical records) software, and my husband designed my website for me, so I only pay for hosting. I also did not start an herb pharmacy right away. I knew that I wanted one, but I wanted to see what my patients would need and I wanted to get a little more cash flow first. I started my in-house herb pharmacy about 2.5 months after I opened my doors.

Taking Herbal Materia Medica? Interested in Japanese-style practice? New on the bookshelf! Japanese Herbal Medicine: The Healing Art of Kampo, A Guide to Understanding & Using Traditional Japanese Herbal Medicine for Overcoming Common Disorders by Robert Rister. The book is organized by disorders rather than herb classifications, which makes it a great reference when deciphering herbs that treat common pathologies. Come and give it a look!

The Bind Each Other’s Wounds scholarship was founded in honor of Monsignor Jerome Martinez Y Alire, a longtime treasure of the Santa Fe community. In 2012 Southwest Acupuncture College established a living legacy award in thanksgiving and emulation of his compassion and care for the sick and the afflicted of New Mexico in hospitals, hospices, homes, and hearts. The College donates a four-year, full-tuition scholarship annually in his name to a parishioner in the Santa Fe Deanery. Each scholarship is worth over $70,000.00 and prepares each recipient to become a Doctor of Oriental Medicine in New Mexico or a licensed acupuncturist in other states.

One of my friends sits on the Board of the Santa Fe Mountain Center, and I attended their annual fundraiser in July. I met a woman whose organization, Santa Fe Safe, partners with the Solace Crisis Treatment Center. We spoke about my job at Southwest Acupuncture College, and she told me what an asset our clinic is to the community and what great work our students do. She mentioned that Solace has a drawing for free self-care at their monthly staff meeting and suggested that the SWAC student clinic donate a free treatment to the drawing each month.

Southwest Acupuncture College has always valued our United States veterans. We have offered discounted rates in our clinic for many years. As Clinic Manager of the Boulder Campus, I can say that the service that we offer our veterans is one of great importance, honor, and appreciation.

Upon choosing a clinic charity for the Boulder Campus, we wanted to find a program that would be of benefit to our US veterans. After doing our research, we found that there was an amazing 501© non-profit organization that was founded and run by one of our very own graduates. Daisy Lear, who graduated in 2001 from the Boulder Campus, began operating Acupuncture for Veterans and Their Families in 2009. It has been a labor of love for her, growing and learning the best way to provide free acupuncture to our veterans.