When they met at school in Santa Fe, N.M., the two North Carolinians had a similar wish: to make traditional Chinese medicine their life's work.
Far from home and immersed in another culture, Shay Cline and Bridgette Barker completed four-year programs in all aspects of Chinese medical arts, including acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Their path took them to Hickory, where today both offer ancient treatments that may relieve pain or help various disorders, all by unblocking the flow of energy in the body.
Hickory native Cline returned five years ago to open his practice.
With a master's in oriental medicine, he is licensed in acupuncture and Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.. He said he particularly enjoys working with gynecological disorders and pain management.
Cline felt called to work with alternative medicine early on.
“Unlike a lot of people I went to school with, I was not exposed to Chinese medicine – I had never had acupuncture done,” Cline said. “But when I was in high school I saw a TV program on reiki...where the guy was healing people with his hands, and it clicked,” he said.
Barker, a native of Oxford, came to Hickory to practice four years ago at the invitation of Cline, who was ahead of her in school. Later Barker started her own practice.
Like Cline, Barker is licensed and certified by the NCCAOM in acupuncture and Chinese herbology. She says she enjoys working with infertility, but also treats cancer pain and nausea, gynecological/urinary problems, stress-related disorders and much more.
Barker's interest also started early. When a car accident in high school left her unable to move her neck, Barker found relief in chiropractic therapy, afterwards working as a chiropractor's assistant.
Later her aunt invited her to visit her acupuncturist. “When I watched her give treatments I realized this was what I wanted to do,” Barker said.
Barker and Cline agree it's important to explain how acupuncture can be useful. Cline noted that patients sometimes expect instantaneous results.
“Chinese medicine is not ... just for immediate relief, it's for corrective care,” he said. “There's a big difference between that approach and other treatment modalities in Western medicine,” he added.
“I think acupuncture reawakens people to understanding their bodies again and knowing what their bodies need.”
For information, call Shay Cline at 828-327-8101, or Bridgette Barker at 828-324-6750.