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Graduate Profile of Thomas S. Burgoon, M.D., MSOM, L.Ac

  1. Date of graduation: 2012
  2. Full-time or part-time practice: Full-time
  3. Current practice setting: Solo practice. I was already a physician (MD) board certified in internal medicine and on a university faculty when I started studying Chinese medicine. The more I brought traditional Chinese medical theory and therapies into my everyday medical practice, the more impressed I became with the profound value of traditional Chinese medical knowledge. Inspired by this, I gradually transitioned out of a university medical center-based practice into a solo office practice that integrates my knowledge from these two systems of medicine.
  4. Areas of practice specialization:
    • Type of patients:I see patients ages 9 to 93. My patients tend to be suburban/urban well-educated people who want to manage their health and medical problems in a more holistic way with less medicine.
    • Type of therapy used: acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, Chinese herbs. For each person, I start by gathering an in-depth medical history from the perspectives of both Chinese medicine and modern medicine. My inquiry informs me of the best way to use the combined knowledge to improve their health. As a practicing internist, I became very aware of the large number of adverse reactions that patients experience to pharmaceuticals even when prescribed properly. Because of this, my plan for each person also involves how to help them safely take less pharmaceuticals. Traditional Chinese medical theory and therapies are a powerful and effective approach and are the basis of my practice. Almost all of my patients are able to reduce their number of prescribed medicines and feel better and be healthier than before.
    • Principal conditions treated: I work with people with a wide variety of medical complaints ranging from pain problems and common musculoskeletal problems to complex internal medicine problems like Insulin Dependent Diabetes, Hypertension, Connective Tissue Disorders like SLE, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Crohn’s Disease. I also work in a supportive way with acupuncture and moxa for many people going through cancer care.
  5. Postgraduate Education/Activity:
    • President, American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
    • Editorial Board, Medical Acupuncture
    • Chair, Institutional Review Board, New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
    • Advisor, Unite for Her (www.uniteforher.org)
  6. Most rewarding aspect of practice: I would say that the rewards are three-fold. One is that traditional Chinese medicine transformed the way I practice medicine and helped me connect to the deepest and best traditions of medicine: assisting the natural abilities to heal and avoiding harmful interventions. These are ideas deeply embedded in both Hippocratic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. While in modern western medicine their expression has almost disappeared, in TCM they are very much alive. This is part of traditional Chinese medicine’s gift to modern medicine – to reconnect us with these profound principles.

    Secondly, I am grateful to be able to help so many people who were not helped by other therapies. At the same time, my patients are also very appreciative of my ability to help them feel better with less medicine. Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with the heavy burden of surgeries and pharmaceuticals being offered to them as the only therapy in physicians’ offices across our country. My patients are very appreciative of the benefits and insights of traditional Chinese medicine.

    Lastly, I find the process of sharing my experiences with fellow physicians and the public to be very rewarding. I am very interested in fostering meaningful dialog with our colleagues in “regular” medicine about the value of traditional Chinese medical theory and therapies. I find that when the dialog starts with a scientific perspective and in a common language, my colleagues are not only intrigued but also very receptive. American physicians and healthcare providers are interested in new ways to help their patients. They need us, as doctors of traditional Chinese medicine, to communicate in a language they can understand. It is imperative that we foster a meaningful dialog with them and help them to appreciate the value of what we do. To this end I continue to work with national and international organizations devoted to promoting the understanding and use of acupuncture and moxibustion. In this effort, during the last year, I have spoken in Mineola, NY; Athens, Greece; Sophia, Bulgaria; and Nanjing, China. Later this year, I will speak in Pittsburg, PA; Mexico City, Mexico; and Graz, Austria
  7. Most essential tips for other graduates desiring to establish a successful practice: It is helpful to understand that the practice of medicine involves lifelong learning, be it western medicine or traditional Chinese medicine. Continue to seek out opportunities for advanced training and study. Join your local and national professional organizations, attend their annual meetings, and continue to actively learn. Stay connected to your school of Oriental medicine and active in its continuing education and alumni affairs, and look for ways to support its continued growth and vitality. Subscribe to a good journal of Oriental medicine or acupuncture. Make this reading a regular part of your professional life. These are essentials that will assure success and a rewarding career.

Thomas Burgoon is a 2012 graduate of the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a CCAOM member institution. For a list of all CCAOM member colleges see state list.