Alumni Spotlight: Cari Schaefer, L.Ac

Yo San University is proud to produce alumni that are movers and shakers in the healthcare field. We recently had the opportunity to interview YSU alumna Cari Schaefer, L.Ac., author of the The Food Solution, Amazon’s #1 New Release in its Genetically Engineered Food Nutrition department. Cari shared her insights on TCM and nutrition, her experience at YSU, and tips for becoming a successful practitioner.

Book cover of The Food Solution by Cari Schaefer

Could you tell us what inspired you to write The Food Solution

I have been in practice for 16 years. Over those years, I saw time and again that if people were eating a diet that was low in nutrition and high in chemicals, they healed slowly, if at all, and that they were more likely to develop another health problem in the future.

And likewise if they ate a nutrient-dense, low in chemicals diet, they healed more quickly and the results lasted.

It has been a requirement in my practice for many years that each client do a diet consult with me. After years of my clients requesting that I write a book so they could share this information with their family and friends, I decided to listen. The Food Solution is my way of sharing

A central theme of your work is using nutrition as a healing tool.  How did your education in Traditional Chinese Medicine inform your views about food and nutrition?  

It informs everything I do. Chinese nutrition identifies the affect a food will have on the body; whether is warming or cooling, whether it is moistening or drying, which organs will benefit from eating it. This takes the mystery out of eating. Although my book is not about Chinese medical nutrition specifically, I am unable to view any substance we eat or take without these principles as the foundation. I think every nutritionist and/or herbalist would benefit from learning the principles of Chinese Medical Nutrition. I cannot imagine practicing without this foundational understanding.

Cari SchaeferYou have been a successful natural health practitioner for over sixteen years.  What advice do you have for our students and alumni who wish to successfully bring the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine to a broader audience?

It is all about practice management. I have watched so many really talented practitioners fail to thrive because they did not know how to properly structure a practice. Some of the big mistakes I see practitioners making is that they do not properly educate their clients.

I find that doing a report of findings (ROF) with a patient is an essential key to success. ROF’s do several things: they give the client a clear understanding of how you see their case; what markers you will be using to follow-up on their progress; they educate clients as to what is expected from them, and how long will be needed until a follow-up revaluation of their case can be expected. When a client knows what is expected of them, and that the practitioner has a clear plan, they can relax into the healing process.

I also think it is essential that practitioners have a system of monitoring a client’s progress other than symptoms. Sometimes by monitoring symptoms for progress it sets an expectation in the client that symptoms should be changing.  It is my experience that symptoms can be the last thing to change. It is important that the practitioner informs the client of how they are doing on a regular basis based on the markers they use.

I believe in the initial healing phase, it is inappropriate for a practitioner to ask a client when they would like to come back. I have seen this happen so many times. Clients do not know what is necessary for their success.  That is the practitioner’s job.  It is for the practitioner to guide the client as to what is needed for them, the practitioner, to help the client to heal, not the client’s job. Every practitioner has a different style: some see clients several times a week others once a week, some even once a month. It is the job of the practitioner to know and communicate what is needed in order to help the client.

I have watched time and again as practitioners implement simple changes like these and their practices completely change for the positive.

How did attending Yo San University shape your views on natural health? 

I believe Chinese medicine is a fantastic foundation for understanding how the body works. I remember, as I learned the medicine, my view of health, and life itself changed and broadened. Without this understanding, I cannot imagine what it would be like to attempt to unravel the complexities of human health.

Why did you choose YSU? 

I chose YSU because of the Qi program. It is what made it stand out from the other educational programs I researched.

What are the benefits of attending YSU?

YSU did an excellent job at combining a strong Western foundation with an exceptional Chinese medical program. I transferred to YSU from another school that thought teaching Western medicine was not necessary. YSU’s program integrated the two, which felt more complete to me. Also, the nutrition program at YSU is what initiated my love of nutrition as a healing modality.

How do you feel your training at YSU has given you an edge?

Having a strong medical background allows me to easily interface with other healthcare providers in a way that helps build mutual respect and provide a better level of integrated care.

What is your overall feeling about your experience at YSU? 

YSU provided me the solid foundational understanding of Chinese medicine that I needed to succeed, not only at passing my Boards, but also to continue to succeed and grow as a successful healthcare provider.