Acupuncturist Jennifer Kim comes to BodaHealth with an interesting and diverse background. Read on to learn more about Jennifer’s interesting path and her philosophy on healing.
Jeda Boughton: Hi Jennifer, thank you for sitting down with me today! You’ve had such a unique and interesting path to Chinese medicine and Acupuncture, I am excited to learn more! First off, are there specific health conditions that you’re most excited about treating at BodaHealth?
Jennifer Kim: Yes! I’m excited to treat conditions pertaining to infertility and women’s health.
JB: What sparked your interest in healthcare and specifically, how did you become interested in Acupuncture and TCM? Can you tell us a bit about the first time you were exposed to TCM?
JK: My parents didn’t work in healthcare, but they were always interested in traditional Korean medicine, which is similar to traditional Chinese medicine. It includes techniques such as hand acupuncture needling, cupping, and Moxibustion. I grew up watching my mom help others with these techniques and it inspired me to get a formal education in TCM so that I could help even more people.
JB: Did your mom encourage you to go into healthcare?
JK: Not really, but my parents were supportive of me going to China to study TCM. They encouraged me to enroll in Beijing University of Chinese Medicine as opposed to Shanghai University of Chinese Medicine, both of which are China’s top TCM universities. I almost wanted to give up in my second year, but my family encouraged me to persevere.
JB: That must have been really difficult, learning Chinese medicine and Acupuncture in a different country and a different language! Did you take any acupuncture courses in Korea before you went to China?
JK: No, I learned acupuncture in Beijing. I went to China when I was 17 to study abroad. I knew I wanted to study Chinese medicine at an early age.
JB: Wow! That is young. You really knew your path! Did you learn the Chinese language and TCM at the same time?
JK: No, I only made the decision to go to China two weeks before going there. I had to learn Chinese from scratch and then finish high school. After that, I had to take a Chinese language exam (HSK) in order to enroll in the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. I had to learn Chinese first in order to understand the curriculum being taught at the university. Otherwise, there would have been no way I could understand the lectures and classes. But there was a big learning curve for me because I had to learn medical terms and theory in a foreign language.
JB: Wow, you are so brave! How did you decide to come to Canada?
JK: I was on a journey of self-discovery. I decided I wanted to explore North America. But before that, I knew I needed to improve my English. So I went to the Philippines to study English for two months. My friend’s mother encouraged me to go out and explore the world. So I came to Vancouver in 2013 on a working holiday visa. I wanted to see what it was like, and I fell in love with all the beautiful things that Vancouver has to offer.
JB: Vancouver is beautiful, I can’t imagine living anywhere else! How long have you been registered as a practitioner in BC?
JK: I’ve been registered in BC since 2015.
JB: What are some of the differences for practicing here vs China?
JK: In China, I was a licensed Chinese medical doctor. There, Chinese medical doctors are the equivalent of Western physicians in North America. As a Chinese doctor, I could prescribe what’s best for my patients. Over here, I have more limited resources to treat patients.
JB: I did my practicum in a hospital in China that integrated both Western and Chinese medicine. I had so many unique experiences that I’m sure I’ll never have in Canada. I’d love to hear some of your insights on healthcare, such as techniques and philosophy and how acupuncture and TCM differ in Korea and China versus Canada?
JK: In China there are two types of hospitals. One type practices a fusion of Chinese and Western medicine. The other type is only Western. Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors who practice in the fusion type hospitals have the authority to prescribe Western medicine as well as request Western tests to be performed. In Canada, there are so many limitations on what an acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist can perform or prescribe to their patients. In addition, traditional Chinese and Korean medicine stems from preventative techniques and philosophy. Western medicine is more reactionary to the symptoms.
JB: Did you work with western docs in China? What hospital were you in? Did you work in an integrated hospital there?
JK: I worked only in integrated hospitals in Beijing with Chinese medical doctors. Some of the hospitals I worked at were Wangjing Hospital, Dongzhimen Hospital, and Xiyuan Hospital.
JB: You’ve had some really unique educational experiences! What other training and certifications do you have and how do they fit in with your practice today? For example, what conditions are best treated with your style of acupuncture and Chinese medicine?
JK: I have a Soft Tissue Acupuncture Certificate, Point Injection Therapy Certificate, and EXSTORE Motor Point Certificate. These techniques integrate well into my practice, and are really effective in treating pain management issues.
JB: What tools do you use in your practice?
JK: Some of the most common tools I use on my patients are acupuncture needles, electro acupuncture, cupping, Gua Sha, Tui Na, shockwave therapy, and Chinese herbs.
JB: That is a wide variety of options. What’s your intake and treatment process when you’re working with a client? Do you always start with one modality, such as acupuncture or does it depend on what their issue is?
JK: It depends on the patient’s issues and symptoms. I typically start with acupuncture, but I add a blend of other techniques such as Gua Sha, cupping, or manual therapy, based on the injury or the patient’s symptoms. Every patient is a little different, so there is no “one size fits all” treatment for everyone.
JB: Are there any specific injuries, imbalances or pain that you tend to treat a lot, or that your style of treatment works really well for, such as Low back pain, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff problems, or internal medicine such as digestion, skin, stress, anxiety, etc.?
JK: The most common conditions I treat are lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, digestive issues, stress, and anxiety. My style of treatment produces really good results and many patients are impressed after my treatments.
JB: Can you speak a bit more about the tools you use? For example, how you became interested in using them and how do they help people with their health and recovery goals?
JK: I first became interested in using these techniques and tools from learning through my university. The instructor initially asked us to practice on ourselves and each other (classmates) to familiarize ourselves with using the tools and techniques. Later on, to gain further experience, I practiced on my family and friends. We also had to have a 2 year practicum at different hospitals learning from a multitude of different instructors along with hands on experience. After all the experience I’ve had, I realized the impact and effectiveness these therapies have on patients. Since then, I have continued to practice at many different clinics and it gives me great joy to see people recover from their injuries or symptoms.
JB: Do you work with pregnancy and fertility patients?
JK: Yes, in addition to pain and injuries, I also help individuals (both men and woman) with infertility issues, as well as pregnancy and post-pregnancy related issues.
JB: It’s nice to have some diversity in what you do. What kinds of things do you do for yourself to stay fit and healthy?
JK: I like to eat healthfully by getting a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits. I also try to eat on time every day, and stay active by walking approximately 5KMs three to four times a week.
JB: You already have so many skill sets and roles, and you’re constantly adding more skills. Just wondering what’s next for you professionally? Are you planning on doing additional studies or courses or do you want to evolve in a particular area with your practice? How do you see the next few years rolling out?
JK: I’d like to obtain my practitioner license so that I can prescribe herbal medicine. I already have the credits necessary to take herbal exam. Eventually, I hope to obtain my Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor license here in Canada.
JB: That would be a great addition to your practice at BodaHealth! On a closing note, is there anything else you would like to tell people if they’re looking for treatment or if they are dealing with an injury?
JK: Yes, your body is always giving you signals when it’s not happy. I hope people can understand that when your body is giving you those signals in the form of pain, discomfort, headaches, etc., that it’s trying to tell you something. If you have pain or discomfort anywhere, don’t drag it out or ignore it until it becomes too late and harder to treat. Seek professional help as soon as possible. It will save you time and money.
JB: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Jennifer! It’s been great working with you over the past few months and I look forward to working together and learning more about you and your practice!
About Jennifer Kim
Jennifer received her Bachelor of Medicine degree in 2009 from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, with majors in Acupuncture, Moxibustion, and TuiNa. She also has a Bachelor of Science from Wonkwang Digital University in South Korea, as well as a number of certifications in techniques that enhance her practice of acupuncture. Jennifer’s approach to effective healing is through understanding and treating the root of each patient’s condition.
To learn more about Jennifer please visit her full bio here and stay tuned for more Practitioner Spotlight interviews from the BodaHealth team.