Acupuncturist of the Month, Dr. Harry Park, DACM, L.Ac
Dr. Harry Park, DACM, L.Ac graduated from the American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in 2017 with a Masters degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine. He then went on to graduate and earn a degree of Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in 2019. He started his practice from 2018, and is licensed by NCCAOM and Texas. He especially feels grateful to be an acupuncturist as it combines his profession and his personal passion of healing others. Additionally, he is actively engaged in acupuncture volunteering for elderly people at a senior living center in his community.
Welcome, Dr. Harry Park, DACM, L.Ac!Thank you for joining us for Acupuncturist of the Month!
So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture for, and what are your specialties?
I am very pleased to have the ACE interview. I have been in practice for four years as owner of Spring Green Acupuncture & Herbal Clinic in Katy, Texas. I am currently treating mostly pain patients, such as neck and shoulder pain and sleeping disorder patients. My special interests are on internal medicine including Bell’s palsy, cholesterol issues and pain controls.
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
I grew up in an oriental country, South Korea, where our ancestors relied on a natural way of healing with the faith that there should be allowed healing herbs if God allowed sickness. Acupuncturists are focusing more on humans rather diseases. As I continue my practice, I am amazed at helping patients with acupuncture and herbs.
I treated a female patient with terminal cancer as volunteer. She was told by her doctor that she would live for fewer than three months. I wanted to help her in her daily life with less pain and fatigue as much as possible during her last few months of the remaining life. She was in the bed all the time complaining pain and fatigue combined with severe edema on the face and legs. And, most of the time, her eyes were closed. After a number of sessions of acupuncture treatment, she smiled at me with her eyes open on my visits and could go to the restroom on the wheelchair. Her conditions were, of course, back and forth. She lived more than nine months. I thought it was worthwhile to share this case with other acupuncturists and terminal cancer patients.
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
It is a long story, but to make it short; the choice between the even road with staying at the good rewarding company I worked for and the challenging a new road less taken was my biggest task especially in the financial aspect. My first attempt to quit the company and study acupuncture was 25 years ago in South Korea, and resulted in failure because every family member opposed it as I was financially responsible for the family. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to work with a US based company in Houston, Texas in 2012, and I could start acupuncture study with the evening classes in 2013 which I had long cherished the secret dream in my heart. To meet the requirements of both the school and the company was very tough. The inevitable restrictions on my business trips and other business activities for the company was very difficult and an obstacle for me.
Share a recent success story you had with a patient. What acupuncture points, herbs, or other interventions (meditation, yoga, nutrition, etc) did you use to help them achieve results?
I was glad to hear from a patient who came to my clinic for the skin rash that the patient was completely recovered from the skin rash and itching. The main points utilized were 4 gates, LV2, LV3, SP6, SP9, SP10, ST36, SP15, ST25. The herbal formula, Dang Gui Yin Zi, was prescribed on the second visit. Diet guidance was to avoid fried food, sugar, spicy food. After five sessions, the patient reported back to me the skin rash and itching disappeared.
You said you actively volunteer for the elderly community, that’s amazing! When did this become a passion of yours and why is it important to you?
I started acupuncture volunteer at Atria Cinco Ranch Senior Living Center from March 2018 until July 2019 on Saturdays. I started educating the senior residents about TCM and acupuncture and how they can actually get benefits on their daily lives. I was really grateful to provide my humble service to the people who needed help as it combined my passion with my profession. I think that there is always something to learn from each other. Due to the pandemic, it was not possible to continue.
What makes you feel inspired about acupuncture?
As I mentioned before, acupuncture is a more holistic approach of medicine and has minimal side effects. From the TCM’s perspective, we look at a patient as a small universe with focusing on a whole person rather a disease. This is attractive and inspiring to me as TCM really helps patients.
Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in this profession?
There is no finish line in learning. After four years from the graduation of my acupuncture school, I still feel hungry for TCM knowledge and try to learn something more and deeper to better understand TCM and better treat my patients. The information we learn from schools are very important as it forms the very basic and fundamental knowledge. For example, patients’ symptoms and conditions are sometimes very complicated and mixed up. Something, I go back to the very basic TCM knowledge. I would hope to study more deeply the basic ad fundamental TCM knowledge in schools not just to pass exams.
What keeps an acupuncture practice going?
As mentioned, the practice combines my passion with my profession where I find energy and enthusiasm. My practice dealing with challenging tasks ignites me to dig into a deeper level of study and research papers.
What are specific roadblocks to watch out for as a new acupuncturist?
Texas still does not recognize licensed acupuncturists as primary healthcare providers. We should work together to give patients more flexibility of choice of their own healthcare providers.
We have all occasionally had a patient come into our practice who is upset, frustrated, and a little angry. Maybe it’s from work, being stuck in traffic, or life in general – we have all been there! What advice would you give to fellow acupuncture students and/or colleagues on how to deal with situations like these?
I have experienced various types of patients. One patient cancelled their appointment 15 minutes before they were in front of the clinic because my shared clinic building did not look nice. Though I was disappointed, I told the patient it’s no problem. I think there is no simple solution for that, but my experience is to recognize there are various types of people, and he or she may not intend to upset a practitioner personally. However, there should be a boundary put in place as a practitioner. You do not have to satisfy everyone.
What are your favorite acupuncture points, and why?
I love Yin Tang. It is powerful. The point can calm down an angrily jumping horse.
Tell us about some herbal formulas and foods you find yourself consistently recommending to your patients, friends, and colleagues. What makes these herbs/foods so helpful?
I recommend often taking Dan Shen, Salvia root. The main action is to invigorate blood. It helps prevent possible angina and other cardiovascular diseases. It is a relatively very safe herb and generally speaking, it is safe for youngsters to take for a long term.
What advice or lessons-learned would you give to other acupuncturists who also serve the elderly community?
Elderly people usually spend much time alone without frequently meeting their family members though they want to see as often as possible. Anyone who treats elderly patients with or without compensation needs to understand them, listen to them, as they like to talk and become friendly in their shoes. You should allow yourself to spare more time in treatment as well.
Sometimes, the best resource for improving our skills is by learning from the other acupuncturists we meet along our professional journey. What is one thing you learned from a fellow acupuncturist or holistic practitioner that has helped you in your professional growth, or in your care for patients?
Though my relatively short career in practice, I learned one thing from an experienced practitioner thinking out of the box. Before then I did not recognize the formula, “Tonify the Middle and Augment the Qi Decoction, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang” could be used for whiplash patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt had a significant impact on the acupuncture practice community and small businesses alike. How have you been handling the COVID-19 situation as an acupuncture practice owner and individual? What advice or wisdom would you like to share with other acupuncturists who are also navigating through these precarious times?
I discontinued my practice during the high pandemic period.
In the pursuit of your Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Eastern Medicine, what obstacles did you face, and how did you overcome them?
As mentioned, time pressure, and restricted activities were the biggest obstacles. After I successfully discussed with my boss to adjust my working hours where I started earlier to leave earlier, and change my business trips accordingly, I had many issues such as reducing my business trips, evening conferences and other business and social activities in order to attend and not to be disqualified from the acupuncture school. Eventually, I could manage my school time and company time by flexible time arrangement.
Do you have any daily habits or rituals that keep you at your “best- self”, both as an acupuncture practitioner and person?
Nothing particular, but I do a brief meditation before going to bed, and try to look on the positive side of things around me. Like TGIF, every day a Friday attitude.
The kindest thing a patient said to you recently:
One patient recently said: God sent you to me. Maybe the patient is a Christian and maybe too much exaggerated.
As an acupuncturist, what are you most proud of thus far in your professional journey?
I feel happy and grateful when my patients make improvement after my treatment. I think this cannot be replaced by buying with money.
We see that you’ve had a couple speaking engagements at the Senior Living Center Atria Center and at the National Diversity Conference. Tell us more about your experiences public speaking about acupuncture and eastern medicine. Are you planning on doing any other speaking events for patients who would like to learn more about this form of treatment?
At the senior living center, the seniors had not experienced and did not know about acupuncture. So, I talked about the ABC’s of acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine for the audience gathered in the auditorium. I explained the benefits of TCM with a few clinical experiences and emphasized that the mind and body work together in our actual life and the positive thinking helps build positive emotion, thus bodily health.
At the National Diversity Conference, I talked about communication where I talked about communication and that communication itself ironically implies miscommunication. Especially, communication that is made between Eastern people and Western people, and between different people with different cultural backgrounds. One of the best ways to minimize miscommunication is to take a walk in the shoes of the other party, i.e. mind to mind communication. This can be applied in the area of patient communication. Yes, I would like more opportunities to speak in my local community in the future.
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
“Be grateful and be thankful at present” I used to think that I would be happy after achieving the goals I set before. But, I realize that the living at the moment under the current situation allowed to me is more precious and important.
What is your definition of success?
Doing joyfully what one wishes to do.
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
The healing power in order to contribute to set free all the patients around the world suffering from diseases.
*Rapid fire questions! *:
Morning or night? Night Tea or coffee? Coffee Sun or moon? Sun Cupping or Tui na? Cupping Yin or Yang? Yang Meditation or exercise? Meditation Instagram or Facebook? Facebook
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You can also read his case study Acupuncture as Palliative Care in the Terminal Cancer Patient in fullhere.