PREP Milestone: TUSM-NESA Joint Program Graduates

June 5, 2009

by Richard Glickman-Simon, MD, Director, PREP Programs
May 17, 2009 marked a major milestone in the history of PREP. The first graduates from the joint Pain Management Program between Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA) participated in commencement ceremonies on the Tufts undergraduate campus in Medford, MA. Established three years ago, the joint program accepts a handful of NESA students who complete coursework at both institutions simultaneously. These four students now possess two graduate degrees: a Master’s of Acupuncture from NESA and a Master’s of Science in Pain Research Education and Policy from TUSM. They are:
Eileen Dube,
Jessica Gerber,
Kindreth Hamilton,
Catherine Keenan
As far as we know, they are the only four people in the world to have earned master’s degrees from allopathic and non-allopathic institutions simultaneously. They represent what we hope will become a new breed of pain specialist; one that is trained to enhance and refine the clinical skills of a traditionally eastern practitioner with knowledge of western biomedical perspectives and practices.
It has become abundantly clear that chronic pain does not respond well – if it responds at all – to single, unilateral interventions. While strong analgesics, for example, can certainly make pain more tolerable, their notorious long-term drawbacks tend to blunt their favorable effects. A multilateral approach is the key to relieving pain while preserving overall quality of life. From their unique vantage point spanning the east/west divide, graduates of the joint program are perfectly situated to tackle the vexing complexities of pain. They’re inclusive, multidimensional perspective furnishes them with a depth of understanding and insight unmatched in the field of pain medicine. They will be innovative collaborators on the most relentlessly painful cases.
While their own interests and circumstances have already drawn them in different directions, all four graduates tell us that the joint program has prepared them to become true integrationists. They see themselves working alongside physicians, nurses, physical therapists, psychotherapists, chiropractors and others as a valued member of the team. Several would like to practice in a hospital or other allopathic setting, one wants to become involved in clinical research, and another wishes to develop allopathic curricula for future acupuncture students. Whatever path they ultimately choose, we have every confidence their work will be exceptional and slightly ahead of its time.
The New England School of Acupuncture, located in Newton, Massachusetts, was the first acupuncture school in the United States and remains one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the field. Originally founded in 1975 by Dr. James Tin Yau So and later licensed as a vocational school by the Massachusetts Department of Education in 1976, NESA’s three-year program now culminates in one of two master’s degrees: Master’s of Acupuncture (Mac) or a Master’s of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM). The school enrolls 60 – 75 students per year and has graduated over 1,200 acupuncturists in its history. Within the profession, NESA is widely known for its high academic standards, dedication to research, allopathic institutional affiliations, diverse clinical settings, commitment to public service and pristine learning environment.

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