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Compassionate Healthy Acupuncture at Enerqi

Paul Shinkle

Paul Shinkle

Paul Shinkle is inspired by the line, “I can’t let the world die just ‘cause no one would try,” from the 1975 song “Fair Warning”, by musician Todd Rundgren. Shinkle, an acupuncturist and the executive director of Enerqi (pronounced ener-CHEE, as in qi life force), says he is invigorated daily by those words because they embody his attitude and efforts in making positive contributions to the community.

Shinkle’s service-oriented work began when he was a firefighter and paramedic in Kent, Ohio, where he also served as lieutenant, acting captain and fitness coordinator. “I took two things from that experience. I gained a strong commitment to patient care, as I saw human beings at their most vulnerable, and I learned very crisp, practical management skills,” he reflects.

Because he had always enjoyed cooking, Shinkle transitioned out of fire-and-rescue services and into a chef’s school in Cleveland, Ohio, where he learned to prepare French cuisine using organic food from local farmers. From there, he worked in restaurants, for caterers and as a butler, which taught him the business side of food service, as well as how food is connected both culturally and nutritionally in our lives.

Shinkle eventually returned to school again. Having realized his knack for philosophy, he pursued and earned a bachelor’s degree in the subject from John Carroll University. He then earned his master’s degree in philosophy at Cleveland State University and in 2001, moved to Milwaukee to do postgraduate work teaching at Marquette University.

Those experiences, along with a personal incident, piqued Shinkle’s interest in pursuing acupuncture. Although his mother beat pancreatic cancer in her 50s, she was diagnosed later in life with colon cancer that metastasized to her liver and lungs. Shinkle was deeply inspired by the oncologist that compassionately cared for her during her final hours, despite the doctor’s grueling schedule.

Shinkle enrolled at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine, in Racine, and completed the acupuncture program in 2015. He concluded his studies in herbal medicine the following year, thus achieving a Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine. Last September, he and a board of directors opened Enerqi, a nonprofit clinic offering reasonably priced acupuncture, as well as traditional medicine services, herbs and nutrition.

They chose West Allis because they noticed the area was underserved for those services. “Enerqi is committed to offering excellence in patient care,” Shinkle emphasizes. “As a nonprofit, we don’t think about our medicine as a commodity, so we don’t have to think about our patients as commodities.”

Enerqi encompasses three pillars of care, the first being stress. “I joke with patients that there is only one disease right now in the U.S., and it is stress,” Shinkle says. Secular meditation instruction is offered to every patient at no additional cost.

Pain management is the second mainstay of Enerqi, Shinkle notes, because pain can manifest in people’s lives as insomnia, and he has noticed the recent rise in opioid prescriptions and how easily that leads to addiction. Acupuncture can be an effective way to combat the need for those powerful and addictive medicines, ultimately reducing both pain and health care costs. Shinkle notes that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recommends acupuncture to returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans to help them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and reduce their pain medication intake.

The third aspect of care offered at Enerqi focuses on oncology support services. Shinkle emphasizes that acupuncture does not cure cancer, but it can help with stress management, pain and nausea, thus lessening the side effects of chemotherapy. Acupuncture can also be used in conjunction with cancer treatments.

Shinkle currently teaches at the Shambhala Meditation Center of Milwaukee and also volunteers acupuncture services for CORE/EL Centro, a nonprofit located in Walker’s Point that offers natural healing services to people of all income levels.

Rundgren’s lyrics are as powerful today as they were more than 40 years ago, and Shinkle is optimistic that society will not let the world die. “We can learn to dial down the divisiveness and work face-to-face, hand-to-hand and heart-to-heart by making positive choices in the way we spend our money and in the way we spend our lives: by striving for a society that’s grounded in our human goodness,” he says.

The Enerqi Center for Acupuncture and Traditional Medicine is located at 10827 W. Lincoln Ave., in West Allis. For more information, call 414-209-4228 or visit EnerqiAcu.com.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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