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 Bonny Williams


LCTA has introduced a Masters Degree in Chinese Medicine.

The course, which will be available to study from September 2010, will enable Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners to gain an MSc by researching an aspect of TCM that is of specific interest to them in their practice, whilst continuing to treat their patients.

Masters students will be able to research any condition or any aspect of Chinese medicine through the practice of acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui na or qi gong.  “The focus of this brand new course is clinical practice, which we believe is the cornerstone of Chinese medicine,” explains LCTA Principal Bonny Williams.  “Many of our students discover a passion for certain aspects of Chinese medicine, whether this be related to a specific  condition that they enjoy treating, or to a technique that resonates with them.  By giving them the opportunity to base a research degree around their existing practice, we hope to assist them in developing their specialism, their expertise and their practical experience much further than they would with a normal research degree.”

Guided by expert mentors and research staff at the College, students will be encouraged to set their own developmental goals, manage their study time and attend Master Classes of their choice, both in the UK and overseas.  “Evidence-based research is an important part of the process of improving the credibility of the Chinese medicine profession in the UK,” explains Bonny. “The more expertise we can offer to prove the effectiveness of our practice, the better.  It is vitally important to keep raising standards to ensure that Chinese medicine earns the respect and recognition it deserves.

“We hope that our new Masters programme will lead the way in setting a new international standard for Chinese medicine research and look forward to enrolling our first cohort of students in September.”

To find out more or to enrol for September, please call Carolina, Bonny or Laura on 020 8446 3332 or visit

About the course

LCTA’s Masters in Chinese Medicine is awarded by the University of Portsmouth (subject to validation).

The course is run over one or two years, depending on students’ available study time.

The programme is open to anyone with a degree or degree-level qualification in Chinese medicine, membership of a relevant professional body and a fully-insured clinical practice from which to work.


Acupuncture training is likely to change not just their careers, but also their lives

Linda has been at LCTA for a year as the Undergraduate Course Administrator looking after all of the acupuncture students.  Here she explains a bit about what she does:

My role at LCTA is to answer any queries and deal with any problems that the acupuncture students may have.  Once the course begins, from day one, I’m the person they speak to about overdue course work, exam results and anything else that might be affecting them on a day-to-day basis.

The students first meet me at their Introduction Day.  Bonny and I go through information about the College and give them the relevant documentation and hand outs.  We also set up team exercises so that they can get to know each other.  It’s especially nice to meet the students right at the outset.  When I started a year ago, everyone had already begun the course and so it took me a bit longer to establish relationships with them.

The Introduction Day is a really good day.  I had my first one with the March intake.  I was absolutely petrified but as soon as it got going it was great.  I’m sure the students were nervous too, after all they were in a group of people they didn’t know at the start of a long course that would change not just their careers but also their lives – it must be scary.

I deal with all students in all years and no two groups are the same.  The dynamics of each group are very different and weekend students are different to weekday ones.  There aren’t any specific stages that every set of students goes through or specific issues that arise, you just take each group as it comes.

Exam time is the busiest time of year for me.  Everything else stops so that we can focus on that and then we have to get everything in order again before the beginning of another new year.  The main thing we notice with the students awaiting their final exam results is a general eagerness.  They want their results because they want to get on with setting up their practice.

When they come back for Graduation, the March ones especially haven’t seen each other for a while and so it’s a nice excuse to get together.  We had a whale of a time at this year’s Graduation Ceremony.  It was nice to mingle with the students for the last time before they took off to begin their new careers.

One of the graduates emailed me recently about something and she said it felt strange to think that they don’t have to come to College anymore.  She said it felt like the end of an era, she was missing it a bit.

My main advice for new students is to enjoy the course and take each step as it comes.  They may have some difficult times but they shouldn’t worry.  They should always try to remember why you they are doing it and most importantly, just enjoy it.

The Statutory Regulation of Chinese Medicine: What you can do to help ensure it happens

Advice from LCTA Principal, Bonny Williams.

Statutory Regulation is essential for herbal medicine in this country. Having been committed to it so far, the government now looks like it has lost momentum.

Do not imagine that because the latest round of consultation on Statutory Regulation for Chinese medicine has passed, there is nothing more you can contribute. Even if you have already responded, whether you are a patient, a practitioner or an interested bystander, please write to your MP again urging the Government to go ahead with Statutory Regulation without any further delay. Each time you write a letter, your MP will let the Minister know that another letter has been received on this matter and the Minister will write back. This adds to the 5000 or so letters she has already received in this consultation round. Every single one helps our case.

So what do you say? Here is a rundown of the current situation:

Why statutory regulation is in the public interest:

  • Government has committed to statutory regulation of herbal medicine and acupuncture practitioners since 2001. In 1995 it published the result of a public consultation showing a 98% positive public response in favour of statutory regulation of this sector, but since then they have lost momentum. Now another public consultation has just finished. If statutory regulation is not granted very soon, the impact of new EU legislation on herbal practice and supply in 2011 will be devastating.
  • Herbal medicine is very popular and its use in the UK is widespread. According to an Ipsos MORI poll  (November 2008) conducted for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), 26% of UK adults have used a herbal medicine in the last two years and of those using herbal medicines, 56% had used a herbal medicine supplied by a practitioner.
  • The only way to be assured of well-qualified practitioners is via statutory regulation. Neither voluntary regulation nor licensing ensure independent regulation and accreditation of training programmes or continuous professional development. Only statutory regulation can ensure the continued availability of a wide range of herbal products.
  • Statutory regulation will make practitioners ‘authorised health professionals’ under the terms of the main EU Medicines Directive (2001/83/EC) and will allow them to have herbal medicines made by third-party manufacturers and suppliers under licence from the MHRA. This will ensure good quality products and continued supply of a wide range of herbal medicines
  • If herbalists are statutorily regulated like osteopaths and chiropractors, doctors will be able to safely refer patients for treatment

What will happen if statutory regulation does not go ahead:

  • If statutory regulation does not happen, the 2011 EU directive specifies that herbal medicines made for specific patients by a third party supplier should be removed from the market (e.g. traditional Chinese herbal medicine products).   Without statutory regulation, only herbal mixtures made on the practitioners’ own premises will be allowed to be supplied to patients. This will mean a great loss of consumer choice. Also a considerable number of suppliers and practitioners will go out of business.
  • As a result consumers will be forced to buy from unsafe internet sites or from bogus back-street practitioners.
  • Herbal medicine training is now to degree level – a postgraduate MSc degree at LCTA. Without statutory regulation universities will be reluctant to support herbal training – undoing years of work to ensure high standards of training.

If you think herbal medicine should be allowed to survive in this country, please write to your MP today in support of herbal Statutory Regulation. It will make a real difference.

“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.”