In this new world of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that as medical professionals and as students working to become medical professionals, we re-enter our school and workplace under a social contract to protect the health of our community. Our priority is to keep people safe. We will rely on the information provided to us from the OHA, CDC, and other reputable sources for guidance in this changing world.
To keep our community safe, OCOM will have important social and professional expectations of its faculty, staff, and students — on and off campus. This is essentially the social contract that all are expected to follow to provide the best care for our patients, education for our students, and a safe environment for us all.
We ask that students, faculty, staff, and visitors follow these guidelines:
As one of the oldest colleges in America teaching the healing arts of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tuina, shiatsu, cupping, gua sha, hara diagnosis, and other techniques, our college was also founded in an era when the term “Oriental medicine” was commonly used to describe what many now call East Asian Medicine. For OCOM, the medicine we teach is based on the Chinese classics and also informed by years of development in other Asian countries and influenced by other Asian cultures including but not limited to Korean, Japanese, Tibetan and Vietnamese.
In recent years, our profession in America has struggled with naming conventions for some of our older accredited colleges and programs, and for our professional organizations that also have the term “Oriental” in their names. On the OCOM campus, there was a workgroup convened in 2013 to look at the use of such terminology. While outcomes from that group recommended that our print, publications, web presence, and communications style guide encourage the phrase “Chinese medicine” for describing what we teach, there was no agreement on the use of the term overall and the name of the college was not changed.
In 2015, the OCOM Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved a survey of students and professionals on the attitudes toward the term “Oriental” as a descriptor of the profession and the medicine. In 2016, the results were presented at a student research conference.
Also in 2016, a bill was passed and signed into law by President Obama that removed the term “Oriental” from all federal use. This bill stimulated further national debate in our professional organizations and colleges and, over time, several accredited schools have made significant changes to their names to remove the term.
In 2018, a presentation of the 2016 campus survey results was given to the President’s direct reports. In part because of the historical lack of consensus on campus and that attitudes toward the term continued to evolve, another campus survey was ordered.
The 2018 administration-driven OCOM survey on the use of “Oriental” in the OCOM name was conducted; and the results were presented later that year to the Program Committee of the college’s Board of Trustees. During that meeting, summaries of results from both the 2016 and the 2018 surveys were discussed with board members.
Opinions on a college name change and on maintaining the term “Oriental” continued to vary greatly. The committee discussed gathering additional input, and began to assess the cost and possible paths to implementing a change to the name. No clear options emerged and no recommendation was made to the full board. The issue of changing the institution’s name was put on hold pending further input, with a recommended pivot to use limited resources for new program development and implementation.
However, out of the work in 2018, a decision for another incremental step was made: to update the titles for the college’s new programs, eliminating the term “Oriental” from degree titles except for the DAOM. The new degree titles for first professional degrees, as approved by the Board of Trustees and presented to our accreditor for approval in 2018, are DACM, MACM, and MAc.
Further, the term “Chinese medicine” is still preferred in OCOM official communications and publications. College administrators, staff, and some students have continued to raise the issue of and concern over the use and public perception of the term “Oriental” in the college name. These concerns were discussed with student leaders in a June 15, 2020 meeting and by the President with the full Board of Trustees on June 25, 2020.
Throughout these many conversations, no consensus over what should replace the name has emerged, but unease with the term “Oriental” among the OCOM community has been persistent. With support from the Board of Trustees, our current President is revisiting the college naming convention. As part of that effort, we are asking our internal audiences (students, faculty, staff, alumni) to weigh in. Information gleaned will be presented to the trustees for further consideration.
In response to student concerns as well as current events, President Sherri Green met with student leaders on June 18, 2020 to discuss a range of issues related to inclusion, bias, racial literacy, our curricula offerings on public health, and other critical issues that address health disparities.
OCOM as an institution serves BIPOC and gender and culturally diverse students, staff, faculty, and patients. The OCOM Community is committed to health, healing and social justice. Yet, not all our community members experience the safety and inclusion we aspire to as a college. While OCOM faculty, staff, students and alumni have continually served and done important work with vulnerable and marginalized communities in our clinics and across the country, we are listening closely as an institution to how we have come up short for BIPOC students. No matter the intent, we must look at impact. OCOM is responding to the call for action as a whole community.
Any path toward equity and justice requires that we see fully the roots of racism in America that go back to the very founding of our nation. We also must look clear-eyed at our own institutional shortcomings.
In particular, the recent conversation with students highlighted the importance of:
Through meetings with staff, faculty, and students over these past weeks, OCOM has recommitted to dialogue that is informed by these root concerns. Working together we can courageously improve as an institution of higher learning and lean-in together for the important work to assure a healing environment for our students, staff, faculty, and patients.
This announcement has taken some time, as we decided to slow down and listen to those most affected before planning. We can do better as an institution, and our reaction to this moment should not be superficial or fleeting. Below is a framework to guide our efforts. We will collaborate as a community and with our Board of Trustees to refine and firm up a strategic plan to move this work forward.
Institutional Change Will Involve Everyone
Our goals for this next phase of growth for our learning community are still forming, but at the core we are looking for transformation. Classes alone do not get us there, but rather full engagement of our community over time will be required.
The OCOM Library has gathered a resource page for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to use in considering ways to inform themselves on issues of bias in health care, anti-racism, and BIPOC experiences. Find the full reading and media list here.
OCOM is a member of the Coalition of Community Health Clinics, whose mission is to support a safety net of health and preventive services for low-income, uninsured, and under-served community members. They recently published resources addressing systemic racism as a public health crisis. Click here for the full list of health resources.
None of these resource lists are exhaustive, but a starting point. We will continue to update them and offer online updates.
Oregon College of Oriental Medicine has signed and returned the certification and agreement form, and intends to use the funds to provide at least 50% of the emergency financial aid grants to students.
Funds Available to Students:
The total amount of HEERF funds available to students = $50,048
Funds Disbursed/Approved to Students:
Amount distributed to students as of date of report, 5-28-2020 = $50,048
Total Number of Students Eligible for Title IV Federal Aid, and Therefore Eligible for HEERF Emergency Funds
Total students eligible to apply for funds = 210
Total Number of Students Who have Received/Were Approved an Emergency Financial Aid Grant (as of 5-11-2020)
Total number received grant = 40
Policy for Determining Which Students Did, or Will Receive Emergency Financial Aid Grant and How Much Funding They Did or Will Receive
Instructions/Announcements for Students:
The college posted two general announcements to all students informing them of the funds being available and how to apply for the funds.
First Announcement to students:
Second Announcement to students:
IRS Instructions for CARES Act funds for tax purposes:
Updated June 26, 2020
Updated June 22, 2020 – Multnomah County entered Phase 1 on June 19 and a new mask requirement will stand for all indoor public spaces. In addition Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties, are now considered the Tri-county Area, as one single unit when it comes to reopening decisions. As a result of these decisions, the entire tri-county region will remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days after June 19 before the three counties together will become eligible for Phase 2.
Multnomah County says their plan to continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 will include more testing, especially for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, as well as contact tracing.
Oregon health officials continue to stress the importance of:
• Limiting close contact with people outside your household
• Keeping six feet of distance from others when you are out in public
• Wearing a face covering
• Minimizing non-essential travel whenever possible
• Practicing basic prevention — Wash hands often, use hand sanitizer, don’t touch your face, stay home when you are sic
In addition, OCOM has received guidelines from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to move forward on our reopening of clinics and campus July 6. Governor Brown announced, effective June 14, 2020, that in-person instruction and clinical education at Oregon colleges and universities can resume, but only if institutions meet minimum COVID-19 public health standards adopted by the Oregon Health Authority as outlined in recently released Public Health Guidelines for the Conduct of In-person Instructional, Residential, and Research Activities at Oregon Colleges and Universities. Each college and university has the flexibility to determine how and when students return to campus, and the institution determined that the campus reopening plan developed by the OSHA pandemic task force aligns with the public health requirements contained in the guidance.
The college is beginning with a soft opening with a few additional essential staff starting this week. This includes the return of some of the Patient Services Team and the addition of new campus screeners, all of whom are doing training and onboarding. A few students will be taking the Clinic Entrance Exams on campus June 24-26; otherwise, the campus remains on restricted access this week. While we are still working on implementation details, some patients may be seen in both the OCOM Clinic and the OCOM Hollywood Clinic during the week of July 3. Normal clinic operations will resume July 6, 2020 with associated safety measures.
Updated June 2, 2020 – All Spring quarter didactic classes and clinical experiences, will remain online for the duration of Spring term through June 26. OCOM has collaborated with other colleges on a phased clinical training programs reopening plan. We await a response from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), the Oregon Health Authority, and the governor’s staff on approval to move forward. We will have at least one month's supply of PPE, is needed to re-open clinics and practical skills classes, with two week's worth already on hand, donated by Multnomah County and SERV-OR.
Updated April 9, 2020 – On Wednesday, April 8, Governor Kate Brown has issued an extension of Executive Order 20-09, governing COVID-19 related school closures through "the end of the school year." We understand that this means a hardship for students and working parents with children now studying at home. As an institution of graduate medical education on our own academic calendar, we have some flexibility around delivering telehealth and medical services in the interim.
We have recently been approved for extensions through June 1 for our didactic distance education, as well as our clinical distance education by our accreditor, ACAOM. ACAOM does its approval time periods in coordination with the US Department of Education — and those are continuing to evolve. It is our intention to deliver a quality academic product online for as long as it's allowable according to our accreditor and state guidelines and we are planning now for make-up shifts and practical hands-on lab hours once campus re-opens.
Updated March 19, 2020 – On Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown announced an executive order directing Oregon's higher education institutions to move their curriculums to online learning, prohibiting in-person classroom interactions through April 28 as a way to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Thank you to all who have so quickly moved into the Zoom space for your final week of classes. We will be finishing the Winter quarter as scheduled, including your finals next week. We would also like you to know that floor-by-floor deep cleaning and sanitizing is taking place throughout the building over the break, including each individual workstation.
We are planning to start Spring quarter April 6 online. We are actively seeking opportunities to offer clinical education in an adapted format.
We know this is a hard time for everyone, and we are gathering supportive community resources for rent, food, and utilities. Please click here to link to our resources page.
Updated March 17, 2020 – Zoom is up and running, and the virtual campus will support students, faculty and staff through the end of the term. For those impacted by the COVID-19 closures, please visit our community resource page for special programs and other community assistance resources. Click here for the resource page.
Updated March 13, 2020 – OCOM Clinic and OCOM Hollywood Clinic will be closed beginning tomorrow, Saturday, March 14, 2020, until the start of Spring quarter on April 6, 2020. All remaining instruction and exams for the term will take place using Zoom, Populi, Moodle or by materials emailed to students. Updates will be sent to students over the coming week, depending upon the circumstances of the class and their stage in the program. Please be understanding and patient with your faculty as they work diligently to make this transition.
Campus will remain open this weekend for students to access lockers or other resources. You are encouraged to pick up any relevant mental health and personal support resources located outside the counseling office. Remote access to student advising and counseling are part of our planning and more to come on that as well.
While we will maintain a very small team of essential staff intermittently on campus, most work will be done remotely during this time. The campus will be closed to students and patients effective Monday, March 16, 2020 through April 5, 2020. At this time, we plan to re-open the clinic at the start of Spring quarter on April 6, 2020.
Updated March 11, 2020 – New cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Oregon and OCOM is tracking the developments closely, leadership is meeting regularly and developing action plans for all possible scenarios.
For now, the best advice is to remain calm and practice good hygiene including the following:
• Frequent and thorough hand washing
• Covering your cough
• Clean frequently used surfaces and devices
• Individuals should not come to campus or clinic if you have:
− Fever (100.4° F [38° C] or greater using an oral thermometer).
− Other symptoms like cough, vomiting, or diarrhea
If this is the case, we recommend that you call your primary health care provider, urgent care, or an emergency room before going in for an assessment.
• It is best not to return to campus your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever reducing medications
• Good self care to boost immunity through proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management
To receive the best personal guidance on being prepared during this evolving outbreak, we encourage you to the Oregon Health Authority website or to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updates.
How is OCOM Reducing the Risk of Spread of the Virus?
The college is implementing campus-wide communication campaigns and building maintenance guidelines. If you are interested in viewing those procedures, please click the links below.
What about Travel?
At this point we are not recommending a specific action other than anyone who has recently traveled to traveled to level two or three zones: South Korea, China, Italy, or Iran should:
• Consult their county health department for guidance
• Consider staying home from campus and making work arrangements
If you are interested in more information about COVID-19 risk assessment by country, click here.
Anyone planning travel, especially for spring break, should contact their airlines now to ask about cancellation and change policies. The continued spread of the COVID-19 virus to countries around the world may present challenges to travelers. It is important to consider not only the potential exposure to the virus from traveling abroad but also the possibility of being stranded abroad due to travel restrictions being put in place while traveling. Depending on developments with the disease, travelers may find themselves unable to return to the U.S. after travel to high-risk countries. To track updates on travel advisories, please click here.
While we do not relish having to refer to the campus emergency communication policy for anything other than the occasional snow day, please know that we have a process for addressing a situation of this nature. As testing for the virus increases, more cases are likely to be identified, and we will update you on any direct impact this may have on campus operations.
A crowd of first-year students, faculty, family, and friends gathered on January 14 in the college’s KPC Community Room for OCOM’s 8th annual White Coat Ceremony. The 2020 event is a community ritual that marks a student's transition into the clinical stage of their learning.
Officiated by OCOM President, Sherri L. Green, PhD and featuring keynote speaker, Chair of Integrative Medicine, Heidi Clark, ND, LAc, their remarks addressed themes of professionalism, peer support, and self-reflection. Dr. Clark’s shared words of wisdom for the student’s journey in which the patient and nature serve as essential teachers to medical students. Read the full text of Dr. Clark’s address.
Following her address, the cohort of incoming clinical observers reaffirmed the Professionalism Oath, written and revised by previous OCOM students:
We commit to the constant and mindful stewardship of ourselves, the health of our profession, and our community through continuing education, compassionate practice, and heartfelt respect.
Join us in welcoming the next generation of compassionate acupuncture professionals to the field of medicine.
OCOM alumni Celia Hildebrand, DAOM (2013) recently became the first U.S. acupuncturist to be awarded a Fulbright grant to teach abroad. Her award was hosted by the Uzhhorod National University School of Medicine in southwestern Ukraine.
Celia previously spent time in Ukraine and western Poland to conduct research and visit family who remained in the region in the wake of World War II. She researched the traditional folk medicines of the Carpathian Mountains, and the Rusyn people from whom she draws her heritage.
During previous visits to Ukraine, Celia worked with a Corvallis, Oregon Sister-City organization (Project T.O.U.C.H.), which sends annual support and medical assistance to orphanages in Uzhorhod. Joining them in Fall 2017, she was invited by the Uzhhorod National University (UzhNU) School of Medicine to give some impromptu presentations on the use of auricular acupuncture for PTSD and pain, and also to introduce basic concepts of tongue observation. After returning to the United States, Celia worked with leadership at UzhNU and together they submitted an application for her to return and develop a short curriculum for certification of an abbreviated auricular acupuncture protocol through the Fulbright Specialist grant program.
In March 2019, Celia returned to Uzhorhod under the Fulbright program. Under the umbrella of the School of Medicine, she provided nine guest lectures and introduced the broad concepts and theories of East Asian Medicine throughout the UzhNU system, including presentations to medical faculty, staff, students, residents, alumni, and practitioners in the field. All slides were translated for viewing, by professional translators provided by UzhNU, and included faculty and medical school residents.
Her lectures included live interpretation by these same professionals. In fact, her hosts at the school and her translators requested that she refrain from using words such as Qi, Yin, and Yang because they were unable to grasp the concepts behind these words and were uncomfortable in trying to communicate their importance. This presented a critical challenge, but using the research of Dr. Joseph M. Helms, and the work of Terry Oleson, she made it work. Dr. Helms was generous to allow her to use the research behind, and terminology of, his six-needle protocol, which enabled Celia to reach deeper into the Western medical model to effectively teach the East Asian concepts.
As a result, she was able to dispel misconceptions and false beliefs about acupuncture by introducing the research. The Associate Dean of the School of Medicine (a PhD pharmacist) approached her after the initial lecture to say they had thought acupuncture was witchcraft because previous lecturers had been unable to bridge the East-West medical terminology, but that she had demonstrated how and why it works in a way no one else had done before.
It wasn’t only education on acupuncture treatments and the science behind them that Celia introduced. In many Ukraine communities, there is little recognition of trauma and trauma-related issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Though individual symptoms of trauma reactions may be recognized, they are often not recognized as a part of a whole, complex syndrome. In an area of the world where many people have suffered severe trauma as a result of exposure to invasions and war, Celia has started the work of bringing education about trauma and PTSD to local psychologists and medical doctors.
Developing positive relationships in Ukraine in 2017 helped Celia become a Fulbright specialist, and it is something that she wants everyone to know they are capable of doing. The process of applying, navigating, and negotiating with Fulbright and the university took two years. Because it can be such a lengthy process, Celia says that even current OCOM students could begin the process prior to graduation, especially through developing those initial relationships in locations where students might be interested in visiting and working. These relationships Celia described as “critical to being able to access allotted positions through Fulbright.”
Her goal moving forward after this Fulbright experience is to, first and foremost, return to UzhNU and gather data she asked the graduates of the certificate program to collect from their treatments. UzhNU has offered to host a “Train the Trainer” program to certify the people she trained in March 2019 to conduct similar trainings on the use of five- and six-needle acupuncture to treat PTSD and generational trauma. She would like to carry this forward, expanding her traveling and training to the northern reaches of Ukraine where the war is still being fought, but says that making the connections to open those doors is the hardest aspect of accomplishing this goal.