Chinese medicine training – naturally outstanding

Follow the experiences of acupuncture students and graduates at LCTA and find out what it's really like to study Traditional Chinese Medicine

Archive for October, 2009

You’re never too old for a change of career

At LCTA, there is no age limit on studying as one third year acupuncture student who is 74 years old will testify:

I worked in a variety of jobs when I was younger.  I’ve always tried to keep busy and when we retired my husband and I decided to move to Mallorca.  We bought a ruin and restored it over the next few years and because my brain constantly needs to be working, I learnt Spanish at the same time.

I decided to begin studying again because I thought I would become brain-dead if I didn’t do something.  The last bit of serious studying I had done was in 1994 when I did a counselling and psychotherapy course.  The course was a great way to train my listening skills and I really enjoyed it, but ten years later I needed a new challenge.  

I was trying to work out what I wanted to do and looked at a variety of options.  I had always been interested in healing and having grown up in the West Indies I was used to the concept of having someone at home who was involved in healing in some way. Where I grew up, you never just went to the doctor.  My grandmother and my father were both healers and part of a strong tradition of people looking after each other.  So I decided to look into how I could develop my own skills in healing and became really interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

As well as being accessible, LCTA was the friendliest of all the colleges I looked at and I liked the sound of the course. Everyone was charming at the Presentation Day and they really put me at ease during my interview.   Although I hadn’t done any serious studying for a while, when I began the course, it wasn’t too much of a shock to the system, but the essays and exams are hard.   Everyone else is in the same boat though, so we help each other through it. 

I’d like to practise in Mallorca and I have to look into all the legalities of setting up over there and make sure that I have the correct qualifications.  I will only practise part time but definitely plan to practise over there.  You are never too old to study or change career.  Lots of people think it’s daunting to do something like this at my age – they think it’s quite amazing.  But it’s not such a bad idea and it’s certainly not particularly unusual.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the course, it’s really interesting. The whole concept of TCM fascinates me – it hasn’t lost any of its appeal over the millennia. The course has pulled my brain together again – it definitely sharpens you up. You constantly have to meet deadlines and those grey cells that have been mouldering away in the corner have to pick themselves back up again and get back to serious work. 

When I chose to study acupuncture, I didn’t take the easy option.  It’s proven to be a real challenge, a lot of hard work and a truly enlightening experience.  Being a bit older doesn’t make any difference. It’s a fantastic experience; anyone who is interested in TCM should go for it – no matter what their age!

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“Being a health professional is first and foremost a vocation. We teach our students the importance of always maintaining the highest standards of professionalism”

New LCTA Principal, Bonny Williams, talks about her new role, staff changes and what the first year acupuncture students’ beginning of term is like.

Bonny Williams

“Since becoming Principal I have been on quite a steep learning curve.  Even though I have worked in an executive role at LCTA for seven years already, people look to me for different things now that I am Principal and it turns out there is a lot that Susanna dealt with that I didn’t know about.

“As I have become more comfortable in my role, I have begun to understand the shape it will take – and the role will certainly be different from the one Susanna fulfilled.  We have actually rewritten the job description and at the moment I am observing and taking the time to understand my new role within the structure of the College.

“It’s quite interesting to look at the business from a new perspective and to see how effectively it is run.  It’s giving me an opportunity to take a fresh look at procedures, to assess whether we can improve them and to decide how best to put systems like Key Performance Indicators in place.”

So have there been other changes in the staff team at LCTA?

“Anna Bernard is our new Practice Manager.  She has excellent experience running clinics and is brilliant with students. Anna maintains very clear boundaries and is an excellent role model for students moving into a career as a professional practitioner. We are also about to interview for a new Joint Academic Manager and hope to be able to appoint someone very soon.

“Thankfully my appointment to the Principal role has it been an easy transition for everyone in the office – mainly I think because they knew me already.  Lots of people have said it would have been strange to have someone from outside take up the role and the reception I’ve had from staff has been really lovely.  Most people felt that it was a natural progression.”

What have you been doing during the first week of term?

“We don’t have a lot of contact with students over the holidays, so I have been going to see each class as they have returned to College to introduce myself in my new role.  A lot of them already know me obviously, but I wanted to give them the opportunity to get to know me in my new capacity as Principal.

“I met all the first years on their induction days.  Susanna used to run the induction so it made sense for me to take over from her.  Induction day is not a teaching day, but it is important to us as it’s about setting the flavour for the year – giving new students an idea of who we are, the character of the College, how things are done, what’s expected of them and what they can expect of us.  It’s about our values.

“During the induction day we cover a lot of fairly dense material, but in a nice light way – there’s a lot of administrative information that we have to pass on – but the key is to ensure that they understand not just what we want them to do but how we want them to do it.

“At LCTA being a health professional is first and foremost a vocation.  We expect our students’ values to be those of a professional – they should always be doing their best, always putting the interests of the patient first and always modelling the values of modesty, respectfulness and all the things that underpin professionalism.  Being a professional is about being willing to go that extra mile, even if it is the end of a very long day and you are tired.  As a consummate professional, you keep working to the best of your ability until the job is completed.

“We also talk a lot about reflectivity.  We encourage our students to be honest and reflective all the way through their courses.  This is always the harder path to take but we expect it of them because if they can’t do it for themselves they won’t be able to do it for their patients.  A good practitioner should be able to deal first with their own issues, leaving the way clear to deal with their patients properly.  Personal development is a major part of the course and we believe that it is only through self-development that you discover the resources required to deal effectively with other people’s issues.  It’s the difference between being a good practitioner and a great practitioner and at LCTA we aim to produce great practitioners every time.”