The College of Classical Chinese Medicine is committed to transmitting the art, science and spirit of Chinese medicine to cultivate clinical practitioners rooted in the ancient tradition of the medical scholar.
Chinese Medicine as Rooted in the Classics
NUNM’s classical Chinese medicine (CCM) community is devoted to tapping the source of this ancient medical system. Why? Because we find the classical approach to be exceptionally fascinating and effective.
The roots of Chinese Medicine extend back thousands of years—to the wisdom and work of cultivated individuals who understood that human beings are microcosms of the natural world. They recognized that everything in the material world, including the human body, is a creation and reflection of a higher dimension of reality. Health and harmony can be achieved by living in accordance with the laws of nature, and in alignment with one’s most authentic expression.
Deeply attuned to the rhythms of nature, ancient yangsheng (“nurturing life”) practitioners learned to read the map of that higher reality (the Dao) as it imprinted in (literally “in-formed”) the physical realm. The symptoms of disease were not seen as errors to be eradicated, but were instead read as signals of a disharmony that could be resolved to regain the experience of wholeness.
It is of immeasurable benefit to the profession that we still have access to the wisdom of the ancients through works referred to as the “classical texts” of Chinese medicine. While some consider these texts to be curious museum-worthy artifacts, classically oriented practitioners recognize and honor them as key resources in the essential quest of unlocking the secrets of true health and happiness.
But the texts are not easy to decipher—the journey requires a steadfast seriousness of purpose. The combinations of classical Chinese characters comprising these works are rich, etymological word fields having many layers of symbolic meaning. Discerning the depth of meaning contained in even a short passage can require the rhythmic interplay of scholarly inquiry, contemplative practice and ultimately, the illumination of one’s direct clinical experience. Therefore, even excellent scholarly translations capture only a fraction of the richness contained in the original language. This is why it is extremely valuable to study with faculty having expertise in the texts, and (if one is so motivated) to develop one’s own capacity to enter the texts directly through the original classical characters. The texts become a doorway to a vast trove of timeless wisdom and knowledge.
The Classical Approach at NUNM
Heiner Fruehauf, PhD, LAc, was pursuing scholarship in Sinology (the study of Chinese language, literature and history) when he entered the profession of Chinese medicine through the doorway of his own health challenges. An essential feature of his medical education was lineage-style apprenticeship with renowned experts in Daoist and classical Chinese medicine. When hired by NUNM in 1992, Dr. Fruehauf’s mission of developing a unique offering in Chinese medicine was inspired and informed by discussions with his Chinese mentors. Their vision continues to attract a group of like-minded scholar-practitioners from across Asia and the West who are committed to training students excited to explore and embody the richness and power of the classical approach to Chinese medicine. Many have access to knowledge that is not typically taught in any Western language.
NUNM offers two CCM programs—the Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) and Doctor of Science in Oriental Medicine (DSOM). The MSOM is fully nested within the DSOM, with the latter having an additional 48 credits and 582 hours. Students in both programs gain a strong classical orientation to the medicine. A primary goal of the DSOM program is to set graduates firmly on the path of the scholar-practitioner, capable of uncovering ancient knowledge and integrating it into modern-day clinical practice. In addition to learning to read and translate the classical texts, DSOM students gain a more complete understanding of the philosophical, historical and cultural context of the medical texts, and later developments in Chinese medicine based upon these texts. The doctoral curriculum also prepares graduates to more fully embody the knowledge, skills and behaviors required for classical Chinese medicine practitioners to communicate and collaborate within the biomedicine-based healthcare system.
Overview of the CCM Programs
The following provides a year-by-year tour through the CCM programs. All information applies to both the MSOM and DSOM; content that is specific to the DSOM program is noted.
Year One: Immersion in the Way of Classical Chinese Medicine
Students learn the fundamental theory and principles of Chinese medicine, and become familiar with the historical, philosophical and cultural context in which the many streams of Chinese medicine arose in mainland China. Having gained a solid introduction to the classical roots of the medicine, students then examine the origins and potential strengths and limitations of the modern TCM approach.
DSOM: Students receive more extensive training in the historical, philosophical and cultural context of many of the major classical texts of Chinese medicine
Students become adept at point location and begin to practice freehand and tube-assisted needle insertion. They practice musculoskeletal/myofascial palpation, and begin their training in Chinese medicine diagnostic techniques, including tongue and pulse diagnosis. Students also gain fluency in sensing the flavor, nature and movement of individual Chinese herbs and herb combinations, and develop critical thinking and research literacy skills.
Students begin a series of nine weekly qigong practicums and weekend retreats, held in ancient forest, mountain and hot springs settings. In these courses, students refine their awareness of qi flow by engaging in the “nourishing life” practices of the Jinjing Gong lineage, one of China’s authentic alchemical life science traditions.
Recognizing that development into a thriving business person is an integral element of cultivation, the business series of courses starts in the first quarter of the program. The goal of this series is to equip students with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to conceptualize, start-up and successfully manage a profitable practice that is personally and professionally rewarding.
DSOM: A key component of cultivation training in the DSOM curriculum starts in the first year with the classical texts series of courses. Through the study and acquisition of the classical Chinese language, students develop a form of cognitive capacity that transcends Western rational, dualistic thought. The goal is to engage a way of knowing that will enrich each clinical encounter and enhance clinical outcomes.
Another key feature of the DSOM program is a series entitled “Imaginal and Experiential Inquiries” (IEI) that is threaded throughout the curriculum. These courses have a small group format and emphasize reflective learning, appreciative inquiry, and self-awareness exercises to promote each student’s personal engagement with the curriculum and to support their professional development. Through the process, students choose and hone their doctoral capstone topics. In year one of the IEI series, the resources, challenges and unique perspective of each student are explored. A first-year theme is the role of metaphor in medicine, in particular how it relates to Eastern versus Western perspectives on the body.
While the first year of the curriculum has a focus on research literacy and critical thinking, it does not emphasize biomedical knowledge. The goal is to immerse students in the language of Chinese medicine without promoting the natural tendency to translate new learning into the more familiar framework of biomedicine.
Students are introduced to the practical and philosophical fundamentals of working in the NUNM health centers, and begin their clinical observation training.
Year Two: Exploring How it All Comes Together—Embodiment and Integration
Students study classical models of human pathology and expand their knowledge of acupuncture prescription and Chinese herbal formulation. They deepen their understanding of CCM as a macrocosm/microcosm symbol science as they explore the cosmology and symbolism associated with the 12 Chinese organ networks.
Students continue to build their hand skills through the acquisition and practice of bodywork and acupuncture tonification and dispersion techniques. They are introduced to the art of medicinal food preparation, and to classical methods of herb processing.
The qigong and business series continue, and a practitioner cultivation course promotes self-reflection and increased awareness of personal resources and challenges.
DSOM: In the second year of the classical texts series, students translate portions of the Huangdi Neijing, with an emphasis on clinical application of the knowledge gleaned from this seminal text of Chinese medicine. The theme of the second-year IEI series is “awareness of awareness.”
The biomedicine series starts in the second year. The foundation gained in the first year of the program provides students with the background needed to integrate biomedical knowledge into the more expansive framework of CCM. This approach is in conscious contrast to the modern trend of interpreting Chinese medicine from within the material confines of the biomedical perspective. The College of Classical Chinese Medicine believes that the brilliance of biomedicine is most powerfully applied within the context of whole-systems science, and that Chinese medicine can truly flourish only when understood and applied according to its own precepts and tenets.
Students complete one clinical observation rotation per quarter, in which they observe seasoned clinical faculty diagnose and treat patients using individual lineage styles of practice.
Year Three: Refining Clinical Skills and Developing a Medical Mind
The third year is devoted to the advancement of clinical reasoning. Incorporating modern and classical case analysis, students learn to compare and integrate biomedical, TCM and classical approaches to patient diagnosis and treatment.
DSOM: Third-year students gain a deeper functional understanding of the acupuncture channels by studying the symbolic meaning of the acupuncture point names. They also study the symbolic meaning of herb names.
Students hone their palpation, perception and clinical reasoning skills, with a focus on applying them to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In addition to learning advanced manual and needling techniques, students practice adjunctive acu-moxa modalities, including moxibustion, cupping, guasha, bleeding and teishin. The refinement of clinical skills includes the use of microsystems in diagnosis and treatment. It also includes standard physical examination and assessment methods from the biomedical approach.
The qigong series concludes with an emphasis on clinical application, and the business series continues with an emphasis on marketing and business systems.
A two-course series explores the classical understanding of what in the West is characterized as psychological dysfunction, including the role of the emotions in chronic disease. These courses encourage the exploration and understanding of one’s own self-limiting patterns.
DSOM: In the third year of the classical texts series, students translate the Shanghanlun and Jingui Yaolüe, with an emphasis on clinical application. The theme of the third-year IEI series is “developing a medical mind.”
As the biomedicine series continues, the Western approach to the diagnosis and treatment of disease is compared to, and integrated with, TCM and CCM approaches. The third year includes courses on the biomedical understanding of nutrition and public health.
The third-year clinical rotations enhance the confidence and competence of students in preparation for the internship phase of training. In the clinical mentoring rotations, students engage directly in the intake and treatment of patients under the complete guidance of their clinical supervisor. In a spring quarter pre-internship rotation, students become familiar with the process and responsibilities of being an intern by shadowing and supporting the interns who are about to graduate.
Year Four: Becoming a CCM Practitioner
In the fourth year, students undertake one of the signature features of the program—a yearlong Traditional Mentorship Tutorial (TMT) series. The small-group, apprentice-style format of this unique offering affords students the opportunity to absorb the lineage system(s) of their chosen mentor. Many students elect to do more than one TMT series.
Review courses help prepare students for the national board exams. The herbs review course is combined with training that prepares soon-to-be graduates with the knowledge and skills required to run a successful herbal medicinary.
Qi cultivation continues in the fourth year with three taiji practicums. The second of two practitioner cultivation courses focuses on relationship dynamics between the practitioner and patient. The final course in the business series prepares students to be successful, fulfilled and ethically/legally upright with regard to the business and practice management aspects of their professional life.
DSOM: Students receive additional training in systems-based medicine, providing an understanding of the broader healthcare system necessary to coordinate care within this system, and to collaborate effectively within a multidisciplinary healthcare setting. The theme of the fourth-year IEI series is “the courage to be vulnerable.” The IEI series, Doctoral Capstone Tutorial, and Doctoral Capstone Mentorship (run by the chair of the student’s capstone committee) support students through the completion of the three parts of their doctoral capstone project: a written report, an oral presentation, and a professional practice vision statement.
DSOM: To ensure that DSOM graduates are prepared to communicate effectively with providers in the broader biomedically based healthcare system, they complete cutting-edge coursework exploring the relationship between Chinese medicine and biomedicine models of understanding the pathological basis, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
During the final year of study, students step into the role of intern and assume an increasing level of responsibility for the diagnosis and treatment of patients under the expert supervision of clinical faculty. Through an application process, each intern is paired with a clinical faculty mentor, with whom they experience at least one internship rotation per quarter throughout the final year. This provides students continuity of training in their resonant style of practice and long-term management of patient cases.
DSOM: Doctoral students complete at least one collaborative care rotation, in which they engage in patient-centered care while co-treating patients with naturopathic students (and potentially additional healthcare practitioners) in a multidisciplinary setting. In addition to participating in one or more primary care teams with naturopathic physicians at NUNM’s campus health center, DSOM interns have the opportunity to complete one or more rotations at NUNM’s multidisciplinary community clinic sites (e.g., the Richmond Clinic at Oregon Health & Science University and the Integrative Medicine Program at Providence Hospital Cancer Center).
MSOM and DSOM students are required to complete 6 and 10 elective credits, respectively, for the purpose of rounding out their education. Students are encouraged to take electives through the College of Classical Chinese Medicine, which deepen the student’s connection with the classical roots of the medicine. In addition, students may also take elective courses through the College of Naturopathic Medicine and School of Graduate Studies (as long as course prerequisites are met).
The CCM-specific electives include coursework in such subjects as calligraphy, shiatsu, classical tea arts, Yijing, bazi suanming, qimen dunjia, weiqi (a form of Chinese chess), and Confucian Five-Element emotional healing (Shan Ren Dao Retreat). These courses provide valuable tools and opportunities for cultivation, and connect students with the milieu of the ancient sage-practitioner.
Licensing and Certification of Acupuncturists and Oriental Medicine Practitioners
The MSOM and DSOM degrees are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) and qualify graduates to apply for licensure in Oregon and other states, and to take all of the AOM exams administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), used in most states as the basis for licensure.
For additional information, contact:
8941 Aztec Dr.
Eden Prairie, MN 55347
76 South Laura St., Suite 1290
Jacksonville, FL 32202
The MSOM program is approved by the California Acupuncture Board, allowing all CCM graduates to sit for the California licensing exam; and is on the state of New Mexico education program approved list. For additional information concerning acupuncture licensure in the state of California, contact:
California Acupuncture Board
1747 N. Market Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95834
For additional information concerning licensure in the state of New Mexico, contact:
New Mexico Board of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
2550 Cerrillos Rd.
Santa Fe, NM 87505