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 part-time

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!}.

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I wanted a more morally satisfying career

Rebecca Clarke is a 34-year old acupuncturist based in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire.  She studied acupuncture and herbs at LCTA, graduating with a BSc in Acupuncture in 2005 and with an MSc in Oriental Herbal Medicine in 2008.  Prior to studying at LCTA, she was an IT consultant.  Here she answers some questions about her studies and her experience in setting up a practice.

What made you decide to retrain?

I wanted a more morally satisfying career and I didn’t want to work weekends and evenings – hah that one didn’t work! 🙂

How did you find LCTA?

I began my studies in the North of England but due to a job change that brought me down to Hertfordshire, I decided to relocate my studies as the commute was unbearable. I found LCTA through the internet.

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

LCTA was the closest College to my new job and the open day impressed me.  A course was about to start and I had recently had a particularly nightmarish weekend journeying up to York and jumped at the chance of not having to do it again.

What was your favourite aspect of the course?

The way it changed the way I think about the world I live in and the people I live in it with.

What were your fellow students like?

Fabulous, most of us still meet up a couple of times each year.

What did you think of the LCTA staff/tutors?

They are a diverse and interesting bunch of people with a great deal to offer.

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

It was tough but it was rewarding.  I don’t think I knew what to expect from it.

What was it like to be a student at LCTA?

It was a journey and a privilege.

What kind of practice do you run and where are you based?

I work in Harley Street, Chiswick and Rickmansworth.  In Harley Street and Chiswick I work with a team of other acupuncturists and we do a lot of fertility work, although not exclusively. Chiswick and Rickmansworth are both multi-disciplinary clinics where I work with practitioners of other therapies.

What was the transition from student to practitioner like for you?

Slow, it takes patience or possibly marketing. I continued studying for two and a half years after qualifying and was still in another full-time job for nine months before I was able to become a full-time practitioner.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I think I should have waited and started my herbs course after acupuncture graduation. I was trying to hold down a full-time job whilst doing acupuncture finals and starting a herbs course. It  was too much for me.

What are you plans for the future?

Oh my plans are huge! I want to learn Mandarin, study herbs in Chengdu, get a horticultural diploma at Kew and study Quantum mechanics. I haven’t decided which or which order as yet….oh and to start doing a daily qi practice.

Do you have any tips for current or prospective students of TCM?

Although I think people did try and tell us this, the one thing that is hard to face is that you are running a business, you do need to make a living. Separating or perhaps actually integrating the ‘I want to help people to be well’ from the reality of earning a living is not easy.

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!

Being a mother and an acupuncture student

Many women find that their priorities change when they become mothers.  A job that may have been fulfilling and exciting when you were young, free and single, sometimes becomes less appealing or more difficult to manage with a family to care for.  Of course, there are a huge variety of careers that you can choose to train for, but it’s often difficult to fit studying around your children.

Louise recently graduated in acupuncture at LCTA.  She explains what it was like to juggle her studies with being a mother:

 

Louise Day

Louise studied acupuncture part-time

I was a beauty therapist for several years before I moved to a pharmaceutical company, where I spent six years as a sales team co-ordinator.  I missed the holistic environment that I had enjoyed as a therapist and so I began to look for something new that I could learn that would also provide me with opportunities to continue to develop.  I had had some acupuncture treatment myself and had looked into studying TCM a year or so before I started at LCTA, but I had not found a course I could manage alongside my full-time job.

 

When I first came across LCTA I was very excited to find a part-time course.  When I came for the Presentation Day I got a feeling that I was going to like Chinese medicine and now I know 100% that I made the right decision.  Even after looking after my little boy all day, I would often go upstairs and concentrate on my studies – Chinese medicine definitely keeps you interested!

I found out I was pregnant about three weeks before I started the course.  I’d been trying for a long time and had used acupuncture to conceive.  I was so motivated to study Chinese medicine that I decided it would be fine to do the course and have a baby and just got on with it.  Stanley was born about four weeks before the first year exams and I was back at College two and half weeks later.  I took my point location book to hospital with me because I knew I had my exams coming up.

Studying Chinese medicine alongside being a mum really worked for me.  I’m not someone who can sit and study for hours at a time – I have to do things visually, so I constantly looked for baby channels and acupuncture points on Stanley.

It was nice to have something to do with my brain and even nicer to know that before he turned two, I would be qualified and have a career that will fit in with my family life; that was one of the reasons why I did it – it was about work-life balance, not money.

I would like to work with other practitioners to begin with and perhaps later when I have more experience, I would like to practise from home.  Fertility is a field I have particular interest in and I believe that I will have the advantage as a practitioner of being able to relate to my patients from my own personal experience.  I would like to continue to add to my skills and I am considering studying Chinese herbal medicine as it can be used extremely effectively alongside acupuncture.

My advice to students is to not get stressed with the amount you have to learn during the first year.  It seems like you are never going to manage and then in the second year, it all clicks into place.  When you look at it, the Chinese way of doing things is actually very simple.