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 Why I changed career

I have made friendships at LCTA that I know will last for many years to come

Cindy Hartwell is a 28-year old acupuncture student at LCTA.  She lives in Streatham, London, but is originally from Cape Town, South Africa.  We asked her to tell us what it’s like to be a student at LCTA:

 What are you studying?

I am currently studying Acupuncture and I am planning to study Tui Na and Oriental Herbal Medicine here as well.

What did you do before you started the course?

I am a Reiki practitioner and a Swimming Teacher.  I am still doing both part-time whilst I study.

What made you decide to retrain?

Healing is in my blood and it is my dream to contribute to this worthy and noble cause in the best way possible. When I found out about the acupuncture course at LTCA, I knew that I had found my way forward.

 How did you find LCTA?

I researched on the internet and when I found it, it seemed to tick all the boxes for me.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of College?

Quality and a passion for healing people and a humbleness of knowing where our place is on the earth and how we fit in.  It was also very important that I would be able to leave LCTA after my course fully prepared and equipped to start my new career.

What is your favorite subject on the course?

All of them for different reasons. Chinese Medicine Theory offers interesting information, insights and challenges; Point Location is an amazing journey of discovery; Anatomy and Practitioner Development give you the tools that enable you to heal in the best possible way; whilst Qi in Practice teaches you about yourself and others in ways you’d never have expected.

How are you finding the course?

Amazing! It is a lot of work, and the adjustment and juggling of student life and work has not been without its challenges. But it’s the best thing I could have chosen, and I am very grateful to be where I am, loving every minute of it!

What are your fellow students like?

I was actually very surprised at the quality of people I have met since I started studying. They’re all mature, honest, down to earth people who are there for the same reason that I am. We’ve become very close in our class, and I have made friendships that I know will last for many years to come.

 What do you think of the LCTA staff and tutors?

The staff at LCTA are lovely, genuine people, with an insatiable passion and hunger for healing, people and bringing out the best in Acupuncture and in healing. They’re a good team!

What do you like most about the course?

Learning a new art in an environment that’s nurturing, exciting, full of knowledge and passion, is one of the things I love most about the course.

 Is it what you expected it to be?

It’s better!

Is there anything you would change?

A few things, but more on my side than anywhere else. I suppose that’s normal though.

What are you most looking forward to this year in your studies?

Learning more about it all for sure, going to the Medical Museum and hospital is a biggy on my list, and getting to needle each other is a very exciting next step too.

Will you be taking any other courses?  If so, why?

The Tui Na and Herbs, as I believe that the more tools you have the better practitioner you can be. Also, they all fit together to make a pretty impressive and powerful whole picture.

Do you know what kind of practice you want to have when you qualify?

I’d like to have a healing centre that offers Acupuncture, herbal remedies, Reiki, massage and a whole new perspective to healthy living and loving within our environment.

What is it like to be a student at LCTA?

Awesome!

From CID to TCM – former detective studies acupuncture

Mark Whitham is a 45-year old acupuncture student in his first year at LCTA.  He lives in Kings Langley in Hertfordshire.  This is the first time he has studied anything relating to Chinese Medicine.  Here he tells us about his change of career and his experience as a first year student at the College.

What did you do before you started the course?

I am still working full-time whilst I study. I have been a London Police Officer for nearly 27 years. I finished on a murder team a couple of years ago and at the moment I am teaching on the National CID Course in a development programme for Detectives.

What made you decide to retrain?

I retire in three years and I wanted to do something that interested me.  I also wanted to top up my pension.

How did you find LCTA?

I searched online.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of College?

It’s small, friendly, local and it runs a full-time weekend degree course that I don’t think is offered anywhere else; it’s the only way people like me who work all week can actually do a full-time degree.

What is your favourite subject on the course?

I enjoy it all but I love the Chinese Medicine Theory and Point Location in particular.

How are you finding the course?

Challenging but I love it.  It’s a whole new world and it feels worthwhile. I know I need to do more reading though!

What are your fellow students like?

We have a great group, we are diverse in nationality, backgrounds and careers but we have all gelled really well and are pulling together and helping each other.

What do you think of the LCTA staff and tutors?

The staff are all helpful and the tutors are for the most part excellent, they teach with real enthusiasm and passion for the subject.  They are all experienced acupuncturists and most do herbs as well.

What do you like most about the course?

Learning something new that is both enjoyable and worthwhile whilst simultaneously providing a career at the end.

Is it what you expected it to be?

No it is much more difficult!

Is there anything you would change?

No I love it.

What are you most looking forward to this year in your studies?

Getting through Year One and knowing I have risen to the challenge of passing the exams and getting the assignments done to a good standard.

Will you be taking any other courses?  If so, why?

No not at the moment – no money or time and four children, full-time work, builders in, one child who lives on the coast so I have enough on my plate………..although later I will do herbs.

Do you know what kind of practice you want to have when you qualify?

There is less pressure on me as I will have a decent pension but I would like to work at an NHS GP or perhaps a private spa – I have also considered working from home as I have a big garden that would easily accommodate a log cabin treatment room – so I’m not sure.  Ideas will come to me over the three years.

What is it like to be a student at LCTA?

It’s been a breath of fresh air for me.  The last time I was a student was 30 years ago so it’s got my grey matter churning again and I am really enjoying it.

There are other benefits of being a student that you forget about: 10% off in many shops and I have got £100 a month off my Council Tax.  Not to mention motivation, feeling re-energised and Acupuncture treatment for any illness you may have {it works!}.

Retraining didn’t just lead to a new career – it led to marriage!

Murad Muhtaseb is a 33-year old acupuncture practitioner based in South West London.  Murad graduated from LCTA with a BSc (Hons) in Acupuncture in August 2007.  Prior to retraining, he worked as a Dental Surgeon.  Here he talks about why he retrained and about his experiences as a student at LCTA.

What made you decide to retrain?

I was impressed with the results acupuncture could achieve with dental problems such as jaw pain and Trigeminal Neuralgia.  I then began to read more about the basic principles of acupuncture and I really connected with the way the body is viewed in Chinese medicine.  The more I read, the more I wanted to learn how to implement these principles in a clinical setting and find out if I could get the same results as the cases I was reading about.

How did you find LCTA?

I searched the internet for places to study and wrote to several places asking for more information about their courses.  Only two colleges replied back to my e-mails. One of them was LCTA.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of College?

LCTA invited me to an open day where they explained how their course is structured, what kind of commitment would be involved, and then they answered all of my questions. I liked what I heard.  The fact that they had already been fully accredited by the British Acupuncture Council and could offer a BSc from University of Portsmouth was comforting too.

What was your favourite aspect of the course?

I really enjoyed the Teaching Clinic sessions in the third year.  I had practiced point location and made diagnosis on other students in the first two years but the third year gave me the closest experience to a working clinic.  I really enjoy the one-to-one contact with patients and it felt great to confirm that I could do this every day as a career.

What were your fellow students like?

I was very fortunate to study with a superb group of students.  We helped and supported each other.  I had one or two friends that I was especially close to and we would often organise study sessions at our houses.  We would get together, cook some food then work through some study material. It was a lot of fun and it really helped take the stress out of studies.  I am still in frequent contact with a few of the students. There were even fellow students at my wedding last year, one of them being the bride!!!

What did you think of the LCTA staff and tutors?

The staff at LCTA have always been very helpful.  In the first year of studies when we were in the old building, I had an accident and injured my knee just before exams were due to start.  The staff helped me to re-arrange my exams and even moved my classes to the ground floor until I was able to navigate the stairs again.

I’ve always tried to learn as much as I can from the tutors. They all have a lot of experience from different backgrounds and they were always happy to share it with the class.  The tutors definitely pushed us and we had to work hard to pass the modules but I also have fond memories of fun times with many tutors.

Was the course/College what you expected it to be?

Pretty much yes.  I knew the work would pile up and there would be many late nights to make sure deadlines were reached but it was all worth it to end up in the career I wanted.

What was it like to be a student at LCTA?

I really enjoyed being a student, but after three years, and shortly following an eight year dental surgery degree, I was also happy to finish being a student.  I found being a student at LCTA was made a lot easier because of the friendships I formed with the staff and the students. In addition to the hard work and hours in the library, I have very warm memories of chatting, laughing and swapping stories with many interesting people. I found my best friend and my wife there so I definitely got the most out of LCTA!

Look out for the next blog entry and read about Murad’s experiences in choosing a clinic setting and establishing his practice.

Acupuncture training is hard work but worth it. I just love it!

Charlie originally studied photography but left university when she was pregnant with her first child.

She suffered with anorexia and after a variety of treatments including anti-depressants, hospitalisation and cognitive behavioural therapy she decided to try acupuncture.

Her acupuncturist succeeded in helping her to overcome the anorexia and she is now in her first year of the BSc in Acupuncture at LCTA.  Here she tells us about her experiences:

I thought about studying acupuncture a lot when I was being treated.  To me, acupuncture was something really special as it had succeeded in helping me where nothing else had.  I had done so many other therapies that hadn’t worked and know that conventional medicine didn’t hold the answer for me.  I believed in it so strongly because of my own experiences of both Anorexia and Depression and I just really wanted to show other people how good it is.

I also really wanted to be able to help other people to get better.  I had such a caring acupuncturist and I wanted to be like him – he was so helpful and so fantastic, I looked forward to seeing him each week because he made me feel so much better.  When I qualify, I think I would like to look at treating Anorexia but I’m also interested in infertility and I would love to learn how to treat children.

I started at LCTA in September 2009.  I went to look at a couple of colleges but preferred LCTA when I found it online because the other colleges I looked at only covered the Five Elements.  I really liked the fact that LCTA doesn’t just focus on this one aspect – it covers all Chinese medicine theory so you get a really good grounding.

I also liked the fact that if I wanted to, I could study Chinese herbal medicine at a later point.  When I walked into the College for a Presentation Day, I knew it was the right place for me.  There was a really nice feeling about it.  Everyone knows each other, it doesn’t feel too big and everyone’s really nice.  I started a week after the Presentation Day and I love it.  I did my first clinic observation just before Christmas and the more I do, the more I know that it is the right thing.

Since having my second son, I haven’t relapsed, although I have struggled at times.  My mum is really pleased that I have got to where I am now and she has lent me the fees so that I can do the course.

The course is hard work but enjoyable.  I am on the weekend, part-time course which will take four years.  I travel down from Milton Keynes on the weekends for class and work at Starbucks locally during the week.  My mum has my two sons on a Saturday and my husband looks after them on Sundays, he is a Pharmacist and has Sunday and Monday off so we usually get some time together after my early shift on a Monday afternoon.

College is great.  It’s very different from school where everyone was competitive.  All of us share information which is really good.  We all read different books and often photocopy interesting pages for the rest of the class.  There’s a real mix of backgrounds in my group and we all get on really well, everyone is really supportive, which is fantastic.  Even the second years offer to help us and it’s nice to know we have their support too.  We also know everyone in the office and all the tutors who are also really helpful and much more approachable than the ones I had at university – they give us their email addresses and genuinely don’t mind if we contact them.  We all work at the same level and there’s a really nice atmosphere, I just love it.

The work is interesting and hard.  Chinese Medicine Theory (CMT) is my favourite subject.   Some people find it hard to leave conventional medicine behind (they can’t accept that the ‘Liver’ is not where it is in Western terms) but I find it easy to accept it as it is.

You start to look at people and relate what you have learnt in CMT to what you are seeing.  My eldest has nose bleeds during the night and night sweats.  I recently learnt that Kidney Yin deficiency can cause night sweats.  I don’t know how to treat it yet so it makes me want to learn more so that eventually I will be able to.

We are constantly learning and we all take it away with us and apply it, I look at people and think ‘ooh they are Damp’ and I always go home and tell everyone the new facts that I’ve picked up.  One lesson we learnt that bananas aren’t good for some people as they cause Damp in the body and take a long time to be processed.  For about two weeks afterwards it was a bit of a joke if anyone ate a banana!

Having a chance to observe treatments in the Teaching Clinic and listen to the discussions is really fascinating.  We have to do five days of clinic in the first year and I managed to see some really interesting cases on my first observation day.  We have done some tongue diagnosis, so I can understand a little of what the practitioners and third years are discussing.  We’ve also done some work on pulses and they let us look at the patients’ tongues and check their pulses.  I was quite pleased because I managed to pick up the same things as the practitioners.  I didn’t necessarily know what it all meant but I knew what to look out for.  Having the Teaching Clinic is a really big advantage as not all colleges have one.  My next clinic day is in February and I’ll know more than last time so it will be fun.

The course is hard work but worth it.  I tend to study when the kids are in bed – I leave my husband watching television and I take all my books and work in bed.  I also read a lot of Chinese medicine theory books; whilst everyone I work with is raving about the Twilight Saga, I am reading about the Yellow Emperor!

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!