Q&A with DAOM Candidate Kenneth Scott Phelps

ACTCM DAOM Candidate, Scott Phelp
ACTCM DAOM Candidate, Scott Phelp


Kenneth Scott Phelps, I go by my middle name Scott

When and where did you go to school for your Master’s?

I have been a licensed acupuncturist for nearly 10 years. I graduated from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in October of 2008 with a Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

What was your first job out of school?

I received my Arizona acupuncture license in November of 2008 and quickly went to work on cruise ships for two contracts before returning to Sedona, Arizona and setting up my own practice in 2010.

What was your first practice like?

I set up a community acupuncture clinic in Sedona at a resort for the employees. I also had a bulk herbal pharmacy and taught qi gong at the local YMCA.

Where did you work next?

In 2014, I moved to Phoenix, AZ to join the University of Arizona Integrative Health Center.

The model of integrative health [at the University of Arizona] had MDs, along with acupuncturists, a chiropractor, a dietician, a licensed clinical social worker, and a health coach all in one practice. This really facilitated a patient-centered practice.

What prompted you to pursue your doctorate?

When I finished my masters, I really wanted to hold off on getting my doctorate for a couple of reasons.

One, I wanted to go out and start applying all that I had learned. And two, I wanted to first gain clinic experience to contribute to the doctorate program.

While I was getting my masters degree, I during the weekends when the doctoral modules took place. I saw the difference between the doctoral students and the masters students. I realized I wanted to wait for 8 to 10 years in order to be able to bring something to the table, so to speak.

In 2015, I started to think about going back for my doctorate. When I decided to go to the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I knew I had to take the CALE. So I took the CALE in March of 2016, passed and started my doctorate in May of 2016. I am on track to graduate in August of 2019.

What internship opportunities have you gained through the DAOM?

Currently I am doing the Internship/Residency program at Highland Hospital. This is a unique program in which we go on rounds with the Western medical interns/residents. My past rotations include pulmonology, hemo-oncology, cardiology, and the Emergency Department. Currently, I am in my second rotation in the Emergency Department.

What are the benefits of the integrative model at Highland?

Highland Hospital has a unique program with an exceptional staff and providers who are dedicated to creating the very best provider in each of us. The internship exemplifies integration of acupuncture in the Western hospital setting.

One of the biggest benefits of doing rotations alongside Western medicine interns is we learn what they learn in real time. This type of communal experience creates an intrinsic bond, which allows the sharing of all different life experiences when situationally called upon. I feel blessed to be at Highland Hospital and look forward to each of my rotations.

How has the Highland internship expanded your clinical abilities?

There are several facets of the program that are expanding my professional abilities. The most obvious is record keeping. We are required to keep extensive chart notes. And each semester we do a presentation in front of our peers on a case study on a particular condition or core concept. This involves extensively presenting the case, looking at it from a broader TCM diagnostic viewpoint and highlighting existing research on the condition.

The Highland internship has also honed my research ability, which is a requirement in this program. We work as a group on different research projects. We have currently submitted one project for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and are now working on our second proposal which involves a retrospective chart review of patients that have received acupuncture in the hospital. I will be using some portion of this research for my capstone as well.

How has the DAOM program impacted your clinical practice?

The DAOM program has had a profound effect on my clinical practice.

I am able to identify effective research, try it out with patients to determine if it really works like in the study, and if it does not work, understanding why not. When I explain to them that the treatment we are using has specific research for their condition, patients often feel more at ease. Some will even ask to see the research, which is great, I love sharing research.

Utilizing research has really ignited something within me. There is an understanding that with research we are able to sway the minds of those who could not be swayed. The DAOM gives us the tools and resources to start using research in case studies, too. For our capstone we have the opportunity to do some type of research on our own. This is such great experience. If we could all just put out one research paper, this could make a changeable difference in our profession.

Do you know what you’ll specialize in when you graduate?

I am interested in neurology and endocrinology as a focus in the future.

What is your advice to students beginning their TCM education journey?

Enjoy the journey. You are going to study hard, so stop along the way to enjoy yourself, and remember that learning is lifelong.

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About American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) has provided affordable, quality health care to the public and trained professionals in acupuncture, massage and Chinese medicine since 1980. In addition to its graduate curriculum, ACTCM offers continuing education, public education, community outreach and clinical services in acupuncture and herbal medicine. ACTCM has been the recipient of many awards for its curriculum, faculty and clinic, and has been voted “Best of the Bay” by both the San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. ACTCM is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization