NWHSU Establishes New College of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

It is with great excitement we announce the opening of a new college for NWHSU, The College of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (CACM), announced Deborah Bushway, president and CEO of Northwestern Health Sciences University.

“We’re thrilled to be able to establish a standalone college for our Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine programs” says Dr. Bushway. “The university is committed to Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine students, faculty, and alumni and will continue to deliver top quality, evidence-based education to current and future acupuncturists and practitioners of Chinese medicine.”

Dale Healey, D.C., Ph.D., dean of the College of Health and Wellness at NWHSU, welcomes the expansion, and the benefits to all of the colleges at NWHSU.

“The new college sets the stage for growth, representation, and recognition not only for the outstanding programs and faculty in our acupuncture program, but also for the academic programs that remain within the College of Health and Wellness,” says Dr. Healey.

New college, new dean

With a new college comes new leadership. Northwestern Health Sciences University has elevated Assistant Professor Jessica Frier, DAOM, to the new role of dean of its new College of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

jessica frier acupuncture and chinese medicine

Assistant Professor Jessica Frier, DAOM, dean of the new College of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

“Being taken from a program into a college is a sign of growth, an outward step that signals to everyone that acupuncture and Chinese medicine are growing,” says Dr. Frier. “The university is allocating more resources to our success, and it’s just a really good, positive sign regarding our position in health care.”

A graduate of NWHSU, Dr. Frier earned her master’s of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in 2016; and then went on to earn a doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine with a specialization in women’s reproductive health from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in 2018. Throughout her tenure at NWHSU, she has previously served as the manager of the Herbal Dispensary and was named “Teacher of the Year” for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in 2018. Dr. Frier practices out of her clinic, Birchwood Acupuncture, and primarily treats women’s health issues.

“In addition to our focus on growing existing programs, we’re also looking for opportunities to better support our alumni who have master’s or doctorates and understand where the industry is going and what we can offer our alumni to advance their careers,” says Dr. Frier. “For example, if someone has a master’s in acupuncture, would it benefit them to get a certificate in herbal medicine?”

Prior to pursuing her degrees in acupuncture, she worked extensively in nonprofit organizations: as Director of Development for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; board member and Regional Conference Director for the American Society of Training & Development; and multiple community volunteer roles for organizations supporting women, conservation, and the arts.

“Dr. Frier’s commitment to both academic excellence and community service make her an ideal choice for this role,” says Dr. Healey. “She has the subject matter expertise to manage and innovate the curriculum and the organizational knowledge to make rapid progress on her goals.”

Gathering together, then growing

This isn’t the first time that NWHSU has had a separate college for its acupuncture program. In 1999, Northwestern Health Sciences University acquired the Minnesota Institute of Acupuncture and Herbal Studies and formed the first acupuncture college at NWHSU: the Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which offered a master’s in acupuncture and a master’s in Oriental medicine.

In 2015, the University brought the acupuncture program into NWHSU’s College of Health and Wellness to consolidate administrative resources and encourage collaboration between disciplines. Now, in 2020, growth in the Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (ACM) program and academic offerings has motivated the University to once again create a separate college for the discipline.

Student of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine learning in an herbal dispensary.

Student of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine learning in an herbal dispensary.

“Whether it’s in its own college or within another college, the quality of our program, our faculty, and our curriculum has always been outstanding,” says Dr. Healey.

The move was motivated, in part, by the addition of a new key academic offerings in CACM: a Doctor of Chinese Medicine Degree, which was added in 2019; and plans to expand degree offerings and specializations both online and on campus.

“We’re proud to have a strong ACM program with future growth potential,” says Dr. Bushway. “We’ve substantially expanded our CACM Alumni Board, and the dedicated members continue to be increasingly involved in supporting our students and their fellow alumni.”

More resources to focus on integrative care

NWHSU’s College of Health and Wellness, which currently houses the Acupuncture and Chinese medicine program, will now focus on the growth of the rest of the programs that it serves, including Massage Therapy; Undergraduate Health Sciences; Post-Baccalaureate, Pre-Health; and the five new allied health programs, added in 2019.

“Even though we’re establishing a new college for our acupuncture and Chinese medicine program, we will continue to emphasize integrative care throughout every program’s curriculum,” says Dr. Healey.

Because of the variety of healthcare education programs offered at NWHSU, students build social relationships with practitioners from different disciplines starting day one, getting a jumpstart on communicating and developing relationships with healthcare practitioners outside of their own fields. These hallway conversations help build critical soft skills—and advance the practice of integrative medicine.

“As growing program in a multi-discipline university, we have a lot of resources that most other acupuncture schools don’t, a full biomedicine department, a cadaver lab,” says Dr. Frier. “Our clinic-based internships, including those at hospitals, are some of the best in the country, and we get these opportunities because our students understand how to function as members of an integrative care team.”

From their first class to their last clinical internship, acupuncture and Chinese medicine students will benefit from a standalone college that offers exceptional education and creates new structured opportunities to practice integrative healthcare both on- and off-campus.

“We’re consistently working to develop a deeper understanding of integrative care and improve communication across healthcare disciplines,” says Dr. Healey. “Keeping the patient at the center of healthcare is critical, along with letting go of the idea that I should be able to fix everything myself. We’re focused on a more integrative approach.”