By Caroline Demoise, Master Trainer, Chapel
Hill, NC, USA
Pamela Kircher, a strong advocate of integrative
medicine, has actively promoted Dr. Paul Lam’s
Tai Chi for Health Programs since 2001. Dr.
Kircher encourages western medicine physicians
to incorporate effective strategies that promote
wellness and rehabilitation. As the Medical
Director of Wellness and Integrative Medicine
at Mercy Medical Centre in Durango, Co, she
encouraged the Wellness Team to embrace the
Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor program and
became a tai chi teacher herself in the communities
of Durango and Pagosa Springs.
Pam is focusing on creating tai chi for health
opportunities for every person who lives in
Colorado. Her strategy involves giving a CME
presentation (Continuing Medical Education)
at the local hospital when she travels to an
area that is new to Tai Chi for Health programs.
By doing this, local physicians know what is
being initiated in the community and why it
is safe for their patients. Physicians feel
more confident referring their patients to community
tai chi classes. Pam has facilitated over 70
workshops in Tai Chi for Arthritis, Tai Chi
for Diabetes and Sun Style 73 since becoming
In her relationship with western medicine, during
the eight years that Dr. Kircher practiced family
medicine in Houston, she served as Chair of
the Family Medicine Department at Memorial Southwest
and brought acupuncture into the hospital setting.
Because of her interest in Near Death Experiences
and grief counselling, she became a Hospice
doctor at the Hospice at the Texas Medical Center
where she served from 1990-1994. She is an expert
in end-of-life issues and Near Death Experiences
and is a national speaker on NDEs.
She authored a book on Near Death Experiences
called “Love is the Link”. In Durango,
she was a Family Practice physician with a strong
interest in Complementary Medicine from 1994-1997.
She created the TLC program (Touch, Love and
Compassion) that offers complementary care services
to patients. These services include Therapeutic
Touch, music therapy and gentle massage to reduce
stress and assist with pain management. These
modalities are included in the Pre-operative
session along with a tape to help patients prepare
for surgery and to heal quickly after surgery.
Aromatherapy and stress reduction products are
sold in the gift shop. In fact, the TLC program
was adopted as the flagship program when Mercy
built a new hospital in 2006. Currently, over
50% of patients avail themselves of this free
service and patient satisfaction has skyrocketed
since the advent of the program.
When I met Dr. Kircher, at the hospital in Durango,
she was interested in experiencing the health
benefits of tai chi because she had constant
pain in both knees from osteoarthritis. Bilateral
knee surgery to repair medial menisci left her
with stiffness and pain in the morning. Clinical
research studies done on tai chi gave her hope
for greater symptom management. I brought Dr.
Lam to the hospital to teach a Tai Chi for Arthritis
Instructor training in 2001 because I wanted
to initiate a hospital based and supported tai
chi program for the staff and community.
To Pam’s delight, when she took the training
and made tai chi a regular addition to her life,
she experienced relief from her knee pain, an
increase in range of motion in her neck and
reduced stiffness in her upper body as well
as an incredible tool for stress management.
Learning tai chi gave her the gift of being
more in tune with her body. The process of facilitating
instructor workshops helped integrate her mind,
body and spirit. What surprised her most was
how deeply tai chi spoke to her. Pam is at heart
a spiritual person and the slow movements of
Sun style connected her more deeply to the peace
at the core of her being. Practicing tai chi
has been an anchor to that mindfulness and awareness
of purpose in life. This connection with heart
and her experience with tai chi’s wonderful
health benefits prompted her to begin promoting
tai chi to physicians around the country in
To date Pam has given over 40 talks on the health
benefits of tai chi to hospitals, people with
chronic illnesses (such as MS) and Cardiopulmonary
Rehabilitation conferences and Integrative Medicine
conferences. As a physician advocate for tai
chi, Dr. Kircher is in a unique position to
advocate for a non traditional rehabilitation
strategy like tai chi and convincingly present
the case for adopting tai chi in hospitals and
Colorado and the south western states have a
large Native American population with a high
incidence of Diabetes. Pam did her first instructor
training in TCD with the Southern Utes in Dulce.
From there she was invited to do workshops in
New Mexico with various pueblos. Pam travelled
to Alaska to teach tribes there, including those
above the Arctic Circle. They are scattered
into small groups, so tai chi is an ideal exercise
for diabetes prevention since it can be done
alone and doesn’t require space or equipment.
Most recently, Pam taught people from the Tohono
O’odham Nation in Arizona who had already
developed a strong diabetes prevention initiative
and wanted to add tai chi, making them a very
receptive group for the tai chi training.
As an MT, Pam values opportunities to continue
her growth in tai chi. After certifying for
TCA in 2001, she became certified to teach Tai
Chi for Diabetes Workshops in 2005. When her
schedule permits, she assists Dr. Lam with Depth
of TCA workshops. Pam participated in the first
International Conference for the Scientific
Study of Tai Chi for Health in Seoul, South
Korea in 2006. She was a Keynote Speaker, giving
a talk on “The Practicalities of Tai Chi”
and taught a Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor
workshop in Seoul. In 2011 Pam will be taking
an intensive workshop with Dr. Lam on Depth
of Sun 73.
Dr. Kircher became a Master Trainer for Dr.
Lam’s Tai Chi for Health Programs in 2002.
In fact, she organized the venue for that training
at her ranch in Pagosa Springs, complete with
catered meals. It was a magical retreat in the
solitude of rural Colorado with views of mountains
and a stream. The conversation flowed from training
to planning for the future of tai chi’s
USA organization into having fun being with
others who had a passion for tai chi. I became
a Master Trainer that year along with Pam and
we conducted our first Tai Chi for Arthritis
Instructor Workshop together in Houston in December.
What I remember about Pam in that co-teaching
experience was her compassion for students,
her ability to speak clearly and effectively
and her enjoyment of teaching. Teaching skill
and medical knowledge are a remarkable combination.
In addition to being a Master Trainer, conducting
workshops and teaching at Dr. Lam’s annual
weeklong tai chi event in the United States
each June, Pam was a founding charter member
of the non-profit organization a group of USA
MT’s started called Tai Chi for Arthritis
Association. The name was later changed to TCHC,
Tai Chi for Health Community. Pam served as
president from 2002-2006. During that time by-laws
were written, non-profit status was obtained
and a website was constructed with the help
of Pam’s daughter. One of TCHC’s
greatest contributions to the new instructor
community is the Scholarship Program that awards
5-10 scholarships to the annual workshop.
Although Pam has retired from being a practicing
physician, she is actively involved in her teaching
role through local classes and regional instructor
training workshops. Pam and her husband Mark,
a retired Orthopedic Surgeon, now live full
time on their ranch in Pagosa Springs. Their
ranching lifestyle includes raising cattle,
mending fences and involvement in community
activities, along with enjoying the beauty of
What if you have more questions?
Please feel free to browse my website for more
information. You may also contact
me if you have other questions.
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