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 percent of the emergency financial aid grants to students.
Funds Available to Students:
The total amount of HEERF I funds available to students = $50,048
The total amount of HEERF II funds available to students = $50,048
The total amount of HEERF III funds available to students = $109,248
Funds Disbursed/Approved to Students:
Amount distributed to students as of date of report, September 30, 2021 = $128,516.64
Total number of students eligible for HEERF Emergency Funds
Total students eligible to apply for funds = 341
Total number of students who have received/were approved an Emergency Financial Aid Grant (as of September 30, 2021)
Total number of students who received grant = 75
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:
March 31, 2021 Quarterly Report for CARES Act 18004(a)(1) Institutional Portion and 18004(a)(3)
HEERF Report Q1 21
June 30, 2021 Quarterly Report for CARES Act 18004(a)(1) Institutional Portion and 18004(a)(3)
HEERF Report Q2 21
September 30, 2021 Quarterly Report for CARES Act 18004(a)(1) Institutional Portion and 18004(a)(3)
HEERF Report Q3 21
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.
July 16, 2019 — Thanks to the generous support of Anne Naito-Campbell, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) was among nine local nonprofits to receive gifts from the Naito family in May. The gift, valued at $50,000, benefits both the students and patients who now utilize the college’s Old Town clinic and classrooms. To celebrate, OCOM invites the public on the evening of August 7 from 6:00 PM-7:00 PM to an on-campus dedication ceremony to honor of the Naito family.
The relationship between the Naito family and OCOM begins with the building that once housed the family’s Import Plaza and now is home to the college’s campus and teaching clinic. Originally developed in 1911, the property was known as the Globe Hotel and had 500 open air cots, barely separated from each other and covered by chicken wire, where it only cost 50 cents a night to get a “room.” At that time, Portland’s Old Town was home to Japanese, Chinese, and other immigrant communities. Evidence of these historical roots were uncovered during the 2012 redevelopment of the site, when crews dug up several artifacts, including a Japanese herbal medicine bottle from the late 1800’s.
In the 1960’s, when the Naitos bought the then-vacant Globe building, the intent to start a retail import shop in the middle of what was then known as Skid Row. The flagship store carried a mixture of eye-catching and kitschy products from across Asia including lamps, wicker and wood furniture, porcelain figurines, glass bowls and vases, folding screens, and a wide variety of Buddha sculptures. Despite predictions to the contrary, Import Plaza was an instant success, and it demonstrated the Naito family’s commitment to developing the beauty and resilience of Old Town. It also generated the cash flow and spawned a retail chain that allowed the Naito family to acquire extensive real estate holdings.
At its peak, Import Plaza consisted of eight stores across Oregon. Closing in 2000 due to changes in retail trends, the flagship location lay dormant, waiting to become a part of a new vision for the Old Town neighborhood. OCOM selected the location as the perfect home for its new campus. In collaboration with the Naito’s, the redevelopment project was funded through a combination of tax credits, PDC funds; and conventional financing, and the campus has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The $15.2 million dollar rehab of the building took one year, included gutting all four existing floors for seismic retrofit purposes, and earned the structure LEED Gold certification. The project team included Beam Development, Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects, and LCG Pence Construction, LLC. On the roof is the old Import Plaza sign, restored and now emblazoned with the letters, OCOM. Culminating with the ribbon cutting in 2012, Anne Naito-Campbell and the Naito family have supported OCOM’s role in revitalizing the Old Town neighborhood. The relocation nearly doubled the college’s square footage, allowing OCOM to educate students and offer acupuncture, herbal, and wellness services to the public.
Founded in 1983, OCOM is a single-purpose professional graduate school that offers first professional and postgraduate degree programs in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. OCOM’s mission is to transform health care by educating highly skilled and compassionate practitioners, providing exemplary patient care, and engaging in innovative research within a community of service and healing. Our 1,500 graduates practice, teach, and research Chinese medicine in 50 states and across the globe, and have provided an estimated 10 million treatments over the past 36 years. Additional information about the college is available on our website, ocom.edu
May 1, 2019 — OCOM Library, the library of Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) has been awarded a $39,610 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the State Library of Oregon. This grant will support the project, Kam Wah Chung: A Historical Archive of Chinese Medicine in Rural Oregon, which is a collaboration between OCOM and the Kam Wah Chung Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon. From July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, this grant will support the creation of an online digital archive that includes images and translations of various Chinese medical artifacts stored at the Kam Wah Chung site, a designated National Landmark.
This project will seek to help document the fascinating history of Chinese medicine in rural Oregon. In the late 1800s, two Chinese immigrants, Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On, purchased the Kam Wah Chung building in the rural mining community of John Day, Oregon, where the two operated a Chinese apothecary and a general store until Hay’s death in 1952. The museum is well known for its treasure trove of artifacts detailing the Chinese immigrant experience in the American West. This project will focus on Chinese medical objects and other items that have been cataloged and translated by OCOM students and faculty; the resulting digital archive will be available to the public, and will be of interest to those concerned with Oregon history, the Chinese immigrant experience in the American West, or traditional Chinese medicine and herbal practice.
This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the State Library of Oregon.