Published February 17, 2015
Volume 23, Number 2

Shen Achieves Balance for Herself and Her Patients

By Zoe Francis

Hard-working Teresa Shen is heeding the advice she so often doles out to her patients by slowing down in life and placing more importance on her overall well-being.
Teresa ShenThe young practitioner of Eastern medicine has been going non-stop her entire life, first in school and then in her career. Shen recently realized the importance of having better parity between her work life and social life.
“You need balance,” Shen said. “I had been out of balance because I wasn’t expecting my dad to pass away or own a business. I had to be on high gear. I was really working really hard. I realized I just barely ever go out and have fun for myself.”
Shen’s father, Mason Shen, founded his Eastern medicine practice in Livermore in 1982. It was a time when acupuncture was not readily accepted by physicians practicing traditional Western medicine.
“He was one of the pioneers in bringing acupuncture to the Bay Area,” Shen said with pride. “He was a big public figure in acupuncture. The American medical (field) didn’t believe in acupuncture. They didn’t allow any acupuncture back then. You had to have (a doctor’s) approval to get acupuncture.”
The elder Shen and his colleagues fought for equal standing for the Eastern medical practices they so firmly believed in, ultimately gaining the right for patients to seek alternative medicine without prior approval from a physician.
“It was a battle,” the younger Shen said. “He was out there fighting and working to get acupuncture accepted. It was not just him, but him and his colleagues. I didn’t know that until I started to take classes. I would run into people who knew my father.”
The daughter of the trailblazing practitioner did not start out with the intense passion for her father’s profession that she now has developed. It was a realization that came to her as she grew up and watched her father practice his craft.
East Bay Roots
Shen was born in Oakland in 1978 when the family lived in Pinole. They lived there only briefly before relocating to Livermore, when her mother was a chemist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Shen also has a younger brother who now works for GoPro.
The family moved to Pleasanton after a couple of years, even though the elder Shen kept his practice, then called Pain & Stress Management, in Livermore. When Mason Shen suffered a stroke at the young age of 45, the practice was relocated to Pleasanton to be closer to the family home.
Teresa Shen worked her way through the Pleasanton school system at Vintage Hills Elementary School and Pleasanton Middle School before graduating from Amador Valley High School in 1996.
Shen readily admitted she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life at that young age, so she enrolled at the University of California, Santa Cruz and went there two years before transferring to UC Davis.
“During college, I was totally lost,” she said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I thought I wanted to be a vet, so that’s why I went to Davis. Then I realized I didn’t want to work with sick animals.”
When forced to declare a major her junior year, Shen chose communications.
“I just crammed in a whole bunch of communications classes and graduated,” she said. “After I graduated, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. My dad said, ‘Why don’t you help me. I really need someone to do the front desk and insurance.’ When I was in there was when I started to see the clients, how they felt and how he handled them. I thought, ‘Wow, this is really interesting.’ I was non-stop fascinated because I actually got to see what he was doing.”
Study Abroad
Shen’s passion for acupuncture and Eastern medicine grew stronger after she took specialized classes in San Francisco. When her family realized how serious she was about the field, they sent her to China to study for five years at the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
In 2006, Shen returned to her father’s practice as a doctor of Chinese medicine and licensed acupuncturist. She worked with and continued to learn from her father until his untimely death in 2007 due to lingering complications from his stroke.
In the brief time she practiced beside her father, Shen continued to be amazed at what a substantial impact Eastern medicine could have on a person’s life.
“I didn’t know that needles could help someone in such bad shape,” she said. “There were people crying in pain who came out smiling. That’s how I really fell into it, and I loved it. It’s all about the balance of nature and how everything goes back to nature. It’s so simple once you start looking at it.”
Shen took over the practice, now called Eastern Medical Center, and moved the business to Hacienda is February 2013. It had previously been located in a shopping center on Old Santa Rita Road, but the small businesses were relocated in favor of a new tenant.

Combining Complimentary Approaches
Business has been good at the new location, where Shen works with a practitioner who specializes in acupressure. She emphasizes that Eastern and Western medicine are often best when used together.
“It’s complementary medicine,” she said. “We work together. Everyone has their own specialty. It’s never one answer. No one medicine does everything. I work with Western medicine because they have the X-rays and the tests. Obviously, my specialty is not going to be medicine, and their specialty is not going to be about helping the body’s energy heal itself.
“When we put the two together, a person can really accelerate in their healing. They’re able to heal from surgery much quicker and get back to work much quicker. We’re helping the whole body to circulate better. All the nerve and energy centers that got cut (during surgery) can be made better. The healing is way quicker. Pain is reduced way faster.”
Shen managed to squeeze in a decent amount of world travel during college – Spain, Scotland, London, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and Cabo San Lucas. For the time being, she has given up travel in favor of savoring a slower-paced life closer to home.
“I definitely like good movies,” she said. “I like a lot of reading. I like to relax with friends and family. I’m always just trying to better myself.”
As she works to better balance her career and social life, Shen remains focused on the medical practice she values. Her expanded staff now includes a spine (craniosacral) practitioner, a nutritionist and a specialist in reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.
“I always work with other people,” she said of her business philosophy. “That may not be my realm because I didn’t study it, but I believe in it. I would love to have this (practice) be the hub of anything natural, healthy and healing in this area.”
“Natural health care is really starting to grow and be the ‘in’ thing,” she continued. “People are starting to see it’s the way to go. You stay younger and healthier longer if you take care of yourself. You’re actually strengthening your body. You’re helping your whole system be balanced and stronger.”
Learn more about Shen and Eastern Medical Center at easternmedicalcenter.com.


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