Learning is continuous, not episodic. As the Chinese say, 活到老學到老, huo dao lao, xue dao lao, learn throughout your entire life. Resilience and capacity is built through the, at times, curious harvest of our experience. Life’s lessons don't come with a syllabus. Sometimes wisdom comes from misfortune; other times, you just stumble on it. Regardless, what we learn along the way helps us along the way.
“Listen to your elder's advice. Not because they are always right,
but because they have more experience of being wrong.”
Like the forces of Yin and Yang, learning in our healing enterprise is about striking a balance between confidence and doubt. It's about knowing when to double down, crack a book, or lean into the expertise patients have to offer.
In this conversation with Jessica Baer, we reflect on what she is discovering in the process of learning medicine and how all that might influence her future. We discuss the path that brought her to acupuncture school, how she's navigating the world of Chinese medicine as a student, and her future aspirations.
Listen into this discussion on the curious roads traveled that bring us to this present moment.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- “The moment of connection that comes through voice” – plus a nostalgic trip to the era of voicemails
Jessica's background and her off-center journey into acupuncture
- The fulfillment and nourishment that comes from Qi flowing equally in both directions in any exchange, including the clinical experience with patients
- The impact of culture, training background, and patient expectations on needling techniques. We touch on why ‘more is not always better' using examples such as Saam’s four-needle acupuncture technique
- Having a bad opinion of your superpower – Selling people on themselves in clinic
- Chinese medicine in clinic – From mental ideas to embodied experiences
- Learning from our patients – When patients are a projection of ourselves
- Changing our often-negative viewpoints of sales as Chinese medicine practitioners
- Challenges of being a Chinese medicine student and practitioner – Our medicine “can do amazing things, but it takes a long damn time.”
- Managing time and energy in clinic
- Being a good journeyman/'trade smith”'
- What is means to be a professional
Respect limitations. Tune-in to your intuition. And, take genuine care of your body. After all, it’s the suit that carries you through most things.
A self-described “Farm Kid”, Jessica grew up tending to acres of vegetables, farm animals, and younger siblings in Pennsylvania. Before college, she photographed punk rock bands, sold vinyl records, and DJ’d for local radio. The first DJ gig was for Laneco at the age of five.
After college, she high-tailed it to Texas where she was recruited by the University of Texas at Austin to conduct research for the U.S. Navy and a NASA-affiliate. Over the next decade, she volunteered at hospice, a community acupuncture clinic, and taught meditation at her research lab.
Jessica is a trauma-informed practitioner with her own story of perseverance and resilience. She brings this awareness into practice. Currently, Jessica is a 4th-year TCM student. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Rhode Island, where she earned degrees in Human Development, Philosophy and Thanantology. A lifelong cook, her chosen refuge is in the kitchen.
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