Needle & Nurture: A Nurse’s Path to Healing Beyond the ER

How my years as an Emergency nurse motivated me to become an acupuncturist. Written By Jess Smith Acupuncturist + Chinese Medicine Practitioner BHSc Act + Bachelor of Nursing.

I loved being a nurse and particularly loved Emergency nursing, spending almost 15 years in the emergency department of a major tertiary Sydney hospital. I loved the fast paced environment, the quick decision making and the satisfaction of directly helping people in their most extreme time of need. For so many years I felt I was helping people in their times of crisis and impacting their health in a positive way… As an ED nurse you often see and help people on one of the worst days of their lives, making you acutely aware of the resilience of the human spirit and the incredible strength people can summon in times of crisis.… But was I really helping? 

As the years went on and there were more and more patients seeking out the Emergency department to treat their chronic health care conditions, musculoskeletal pain and auto-immune conditions, I started to wonder if this was where I wanted to be. Biomedicine felt so reactive to the patients needs as opposed to proactive. I realised that while I was proficient in treating peoples physical conditions in crisis mode, there was a deeper level of healing that so many people needed and I was unable to provide due to the nature of the emergency department hustle. 

Two main questions came to mind: Could I help people avoid being in the sickly state in the first place? And how does stress and our modern living impact our health? 

These questions, along with the intensity of the emergency department hustle came the realisation that biomedical medicine, although so valuable in times of need, has its limitations. Viewing the body from only one paradigm is not enough to heal complex health conditions – a multi-modality approach can be so beneficial to the individual. Inflammation and stress on the body can create illness’ that are preventable through stress reduction techniques, diet and exercise. I often felt the need to see the patient before they arrived in the Emergency department, before stress and environmental factors impacted their health. 

TCM and conventional biomedical medicine have so much more in common than people realise. They are simply describing the body using ancient vs modern language and determining similar conclusions. However, Chinese medicine offers a holistic method of viewing the person and their healing needs. 

Acupuncture is steeped in the principles of Traditional Chinese medicine, viewing the body as a whole and interconnected system that is influenced by the persons emotions, lifestyle and environment. Correcting the small and nuanced imbalance in the body through Chinese medicine can yield long lasting and sustainable results, leading to improved health outcomes for the patient. It is a holistic approach that address’ not just the presenting symptoms, but the underlying imbalances that contribute to the persons illness and disease, and this aligned with my beliefs on holistic health care and complemented my previous study of biomedical medicine. 

You can find Jess at pH Clinic on Thursdays 2pm to 8pm and Sundays 8am to 1230pm. read more about Jess on our website here and follow her on Instagram @the_acuden.

pHClinic Team

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