As a Lhasa OMS representative who attends a lot of industry events throughout the year, I have the pleasure of meeting many inspiring practitioners. Thankfully, some take the time to share their experiences and stories with me.
A practitioner whom I have had the pleasure of meeting at numerous events is Amy Mager, MS, Lic.Ac., Dipl OM (NCCAOM), FABORM from Northampton, Massachusetts. She, in my opinion, is an unsung hero of the acupuncture community for her dedication to affecting change at both a local and national level.
SPOTLIGHT ON AMY MAGER:
Amy Mager, DACM, Lic. Ac., Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM) is a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine who has been working with women, mothers and children, and men with acute and chronic diseases for over 23 years. She also has a regionally accredited DACM from PCOM. She currently lives and works in Massachusetts and is the vice-chair for the American Society of Acupuncture (ASA) and Secretary of the Acupuncture Society of Massachusetts Board (ASM) .
Amy has made it her life’s work to making sure people are able to receive the care needed, increase patient wellness, increase patient healing and increase positive patient outcomes. In this day and age that means working not just within her clinic but looking at what is going on at a political level as well as gaining support and visibility to the benefits of Acupuncture within the nation’s health insurance policies.
In speaking with Amy, she told me about how, in February of this year, she heard of a fundraising event being held for Senator Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. Knowing there would be major political players in attendance, she decided to spend her own money to attend herself.
She took a letter from the American Society of Acupuncture Chair Dr. David Miller MD, Lic.Ac. delineating the Joint Commission statement calling for the use of effective evidence based non-pharmacological treatments for pain, referencing the White Paper: Evidence-Based Nonpharmacologic Strategies for Comprehensive Pain Care The Consortium Pain Task Force. She gave this letter to US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s legislative staff and spoke to her directly about the countless benefits of acupuncture and the research to show that it is an effective evidence based non-pharmacological treatment for pain.
This was an incredible opportunity to share the role that acupuncture should be playing to help resolve the opioid epidemic, because at this time the Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker is actively looking for non-pharmacological alternatives for pain control.
Amy testified to this language being added to HB 4033, Governor Baker’s opioid bill. A letter was also signed and given to the AHIP (American Health Insurance Plans) to have insurance coverage for non-pharmacological pain control therapies (acupuncture included).
Amy also attended another event to meet MA Attorney General Maura Healey to ask for the AG to act on allied health professionals practicing acupuncture without licensure or regulation.
She is hitting the ground running and putting herself in a position to meet people who can affect change.
Amy Mager with Senator Elizabeth Warren in February 2018. (Folder blocking her “She Persists” shirt)
These are just a couple of examples of how Amy is going above and beyond to making sure her life’s work continues and grows within the political and medical community.
Her message to the all members of the acupuncture community is to please join your state and national organizations.
Please note: When joining your State Association you automatically become a member of the ASA and receive all of the benefits.
How did Amy get involved with the ASA?
Linda Robinson-Hidas, the president of the Acupuncture Society of Massachusetts asked her for help with the scope of practice issues in Massachusetts. Amy was asked to serve on the Acupuncture Society of MA Board and became its dry needling chair. Amy gathered information and data, and from there started contacting all of the acupuncture organizations such as NCCAOM, CCAOM and ACOM, to have them write letters clarifying what is acupuncture and who is qualified to practice acupuncture. After all of her hard work, she was then voted onto the board of the ASA and currently serves as its Vice Chair where she continues to give Acupuncture and Acupuncturists a voice.
What has Amy done so far for the ASA and the Acupuncture Profession?
- She created a book of testimony for legislation in MA.
- She worked with David Miller, MD, L.Ac. (Chair of the ASA) to put together a national (and unified) statement that was brought to a committee to reach consensus among representatives from all the ASA member state organizations.
- She attends conferences and industry events to urge practitioners to join their State Association.
- She stays up-to-date and involved with legislature that can help acupuncture grow.
- She puts in about 10-20 hours per week of board work between the ASA and ASM.
When I asked Amy what can others do to help:
- Commit to one small task.
- Be a public outreach person.
- Be able to articulate your work. If given only a few minutes to describe the importance of what you do, what would your elevator speech be?
- We should all testify in our legislatures about a bill we are passionate about and an expert in.
- Learn what is the process for meaningful change.
- We do not have to do it all, but we each have to do something.
- Are you a member of your State Association? If not, join!
In addition to her work with the ASA, running a busy practice and raising 6 children she also finds time for community service. Every Tuesday night from 4:30-7:30 she runs a low-cost women’s clinic to help pregnant women and all women identified who do not have the resources or insurance coverage to afford acupuncture services. She offers a sliding scale payment plan and gives them a full body treatment in a community style clinic. Being a women identified only clinic allows her to treat women who have experienced trauma and abuse in a setting where they feel safe. She also is a trained birth assistant, birth educator and lactation counselor.
Another passion of hers’ is working with the organization Empty Arms Bereavement Support which is an organization who helps women cope with the loss of a child at any point during pregnancy or stillbirth. Amy uses her skills and training to make the transition of helping them deliver their baby with as much ease as possible. The gift she gives these women is her compassionate care. Having experienced the same loss herself and now having 6 healthy children of her own has inspired this work.
Amy also works with hospice patients which reminds her of the preciousness of life and the imperative to live every day to the fullest. She is taking a death doula Certification program in the fall. Amy works with people on both ends of the life spectrum of birth and death and works to bring ease in very stressful situations.
Every time I speak with Amy, I am just amazed at how she finds the time to dedicate to so many causes and organizations. She affects change in the political atmosphere to make things better for all acupuncturists and patients in need of treatment. She is an inspiration and in my opinion we could all take a page from her book.
Here are some inspirational sentiments from this incredible woman:
- You are capable of more than you think you are!
- Everything you do matters!
- Do we think about what it would be like if we were not here?
- What can I do to make it better?
- Work on paying it forward for the sake of paying it forward. Do not worry about getting “paid” back.
- I work for a living, but I decide where I am going to give back for service.
If you see Amy at a conference representing the ASA or ASM please stop by and take a moment to chat and hear what she and the ASA are doing to make the changes that will benefit us all.