People interested in holistic health careers will find inspiration in AMC graduate Renee Skuban, who holds both a Diploma in Massage Therapy with a Shiatsu Certification and a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine.
Upon graduation, Skuban was appointed to the Florida Board of Acupuncture by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and served for two years as Vice Chair of the Board. At present she is employed as the clinical manager at AMC’s Intern Massage Clinic and also works part-time in the professional clinic at the college.
An interview with Skuban:
How did you get started in alternative medicine?
I got started in alternative medicine when I had my first child and studied Lamaze. Yes, I said "studied." Most people "take" a Lamaze class but I was so fascinated with how the state of your mind affects physical aspects of your body that I "studied" Lamaze and became an ASPO Certified Childbirth Educator.
Why did you choose to study acupuncture as a profession?
I chose to study acupuncture because I wanted to be able to help more people make big improvements in their health. You could say I thought the hours might be more predictable, too!
I was planning to study midwifery but at the time I was about to begin my studies I developed a very serious back problem. It was very severe and after I tried everything else my karate instructor suggested acupuncture. I tried it and it worked. As an added bonus my migraines headaches were tremendously reduced.
What education and training did you receive prior to obtaining your license?
In truth, everything I experienced from birth until I set foot in acupuncture school prepared me for alternative medicine. Especially seeing my own family make many unwise health decisions. Relying on Western medicine for your health is not a wise decision.
My formal education includes a B.A. in history graduating magna cum laude from Florida Atlantic University, training as a Childbirth Educator, Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do, and yoga Certification.
Finally, after four years at the prestigious Acupuncture & Massage College in Miami, I received a Master’s in Oriental Medicine. At graduation I was given the Clinical Award for Excellence. Seven months later, I enrolled in the Massage Therapy program at the College. The program features a specialization in Shiatsu Japanese massage.
Tell us about your acupuncture practice.
For the first three years I worked by myself. During that period I worked for an HMO clinic for one month. It was crazy. They paid me $25 an hour and they wanted me to treat six patients an hour. They didn’t care if the patients got better. It was all about the money. I couldn’t work like that.
Today, I work at the College where our motto is “Healing with Kindness.” I teach Shiatsu massage and manage the Intern Massage Clinic. In addition I work at the professional Acupuncture Clinic four days a week.
We see people of all ages, suffering from many types of ailments, ranging from musculoskeletal pain, headaches, migraines, and depression to mood swings, allergies, insomnia, Crohn's disease, IBS, and hormonal disorders.
We see many women for menopausal symptoms, children with frequent illness who miss school often due to poor immune systems, and highly stressed business people with high blood pressure and arthritis. We have a very high success rate. Acupuncture works amazingly well. We even have had a few babies born with the help of acupuncture for fertility.
In your practice, what conditions do you most often treat?
We treat many things, but the motivation factor that brings people into our clinic is pain. Acupuncture is most widely thought of for back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Many people do not know that acupuncture is also safe and effective for the digestive and immune systems and for respiratory and reproductive diseases.
Acupuncture treats asthma, allergies, frequent colds, reflux, ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, PMS, painful periods, irregular menstruation, and infertility, and the list goes on and on.
What might a first visit look like?
The first thing is a comprehensive exam with a thorough interview. This is followed with a traditional Chinese pulse and tongue exam as well as range-of-motion tests. The actual treatment usually includes some hand therapy, acupuncture, heat or electrical stimulation, or cupping.
We will frequently follow up the treatment with Chinese herbal formula and dietary recommendations. Everyone needs help staying on the health path so we encourage our patients to attend our Saturday Tai Chi and Qi Kung classes. These added disciplines really help people change their lifestyles and improve their overall health.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture relaxes you, and at the same time, it helps bring the body back into balance. It causes your body to release natural endorphins. This process activates the natural healing power within the body. Acupuncture may seem to be magical but when you understand it you realize that it is nature’s gift to mankind.
What do you most want to achieve as a healer?
I would like to see acupuncture be the first thing we think of for prevention of disease. I'd like to see acupuncture be the first choice when people get sick or have pain. I'd like my name on your refrigerator! I would like to see acupuncture become the number one thing people demand when they feel out of sorts.
What do you like about teaching and what classes are you currently teaching at AMC?
I love seeing the light in my students’ eyes when they begin to understand the concepts of Yin and Yang, Five Elements theory, and the course of the channels. I love seeing my students improve and become healers, excited to be out there changing people’s lives. For the past four years I have taught classes in Shiatsu, aromatherapy, cranial therapy, and state law.
What are some of the strong points or motivational factors for potential students regarding AMC’s Massage Therapy and Oriental Medicine programs?
Some things don't change. Even though the school has grown, the same reasons I picked this school are true today. The first reason is that this school is one of the oldest in Florida and has a proven track record for successful licensing in both fields.
The second reason is that it has a real healing atmosphere. The faculty and staff really care about their students and patients and each other and are dedicated to excellence. I love this place. It has changed my life for the better, and it is making a difference in my community.
For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.