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Doctors and Friends Share Love of Oriental Medicine

What draws two medical professionals--a dentist and a chiropractic physician--to National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) for an additional degree in oriental medicine?

If you ask Linda Oster, DDS, and Robert Fischer, DC, LAc, it was a combination of factors--a symbiotic friendship, a zest for knowledge, the excitement of philosophical discussion, and a healthy respect for all manner of healing.

Photo of Linda Oster and Robert Fischer at graduation
MSOM graduates Linda Oster and Robert Fischer at Commencement (Aug. 19, 2016)

The pair's association began as dentist/patient and patient/chiropractor. Robert saw Linda for dental care and Linda saw Robert for chiropractic and acupuncture treatments. Over time, their appointments expanded into scholarly dialogues about the merits of acupuncture and oriental medicine. These discussions eventually resulted in them earning their master of science degree in oriental medicine (MSOM) together from National University in August 2016, and finishing an apprenticeship together in September at Gansu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Lanzhou, China.

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Apprentices Linda Oster and Robert Fischer at Gansu University, China

"Back in the day, you could take 300 hours of acupuncture as a chiropractor, so I was able to pass the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) test in 2000 and became a licensed acupuncturist," says Dr. Fischer, a 1994 graduate of National University.

When dentist Linda Oster would visit Dr. Fischer, the excellent results she received after acupuncture piqued her interest in the field. So at Dr. Fischer's suggestion, she enrolled, and so did Dr. Fischer himself, with the desire to expand his knowledge in Oriental Medicine.

NUHS' acupuncture and oriental medicine classes are held in the evening, so keeping a private practice running and then attending night classes proved to be possible, albeit a rigorous process for the pair.  How did they make it work? Tenacity, perseverance, and their special bond in going through the process together," says Robert. "And you have to have it in your heart," added Linda.

Their favorite part of National University's oriental medicine program was the emphasis on herbal therapy because it was challenging and interesting. "I wasn't doing herbs prior to the program, and it's added a whole new dimension to my practice, says Robert."

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Students Robert Fischer and Linda Oster in the NUHS Herbal Dispensary

Linda believes the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to the world has much merit, and it should be integrated into western medicine. "Health care right now is like ripe fruit, almost coming off the tree ready to integrate western medicine and oriental medicine--especially in a hospital environment for pain management," adds Robert.

Linda and Robert both experienced the value of acupuncture in an integrative hospital setting during the clinical internship phase of their NUHS degree program as part of a multi-specialty treatment team at the clinic for pain management at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

"The Stroger program is magnificent," says Linda. "It gives a whole 'nother side to the real world of pain and how to deal with it."

Robert agrees. "It has been proven that when patients are in pain, drugs are good for acute pain and trauma, but not for chronic pain. Not only are drugs not effective for chronic pain anymore, but then you have the danger of addiction."

"There is merit in acupuncture and herbs and they do have a place in the integrated treatment plan for patients," says Robert, who intends to move forward with herbal medicine in his practice.

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