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 TCM

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!}.

The transition from student to working practitioner was exciting

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 his experiences in choosing a clinic setting and establishing his practice.

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

I practice in the Esporta Health and Fitness Centre in Wimbledon, South West London.  It’s a clinic situated in the tranquil Spa area of the centre, and is open to members and non-members of the club.  Being located in a gym I see a lot of musculoskeletal conditions but I see a wide variety of other ailments too.  I am happy to see any condition that I think I can help with.

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

I was more worried about setting up my practice than was necessary.  With a bit of patience I found a clinic that I felt comfortable in, in the area I was interested in, and at a price I could afford. It took about three months and in that time I saw places that just weren’t right for me, but I guess you need to see what you don’t want to appreciate the good places.

Because it was a well established gym I had access to local health conscious people who were interested in hearing more about my services.  It wasn’t hard to generate interest in acupuncture but converting that interest to actual clients was a little tougher. I knew business would be a little slow at the beginning so I wasn’t too disappointed that I had many gaps between appointments.   When I was busy I tried my best to give the best treatments I could, and on quiet times I would research my cases, and work on marketing and designing my website.  All in all the transition from student to working practitioner was exciting and ran fairly smoothly.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Not really.  I am glad I jumped in to practising full time or I don’t think I would have become a full-time acupuncturist at all.  I am still learning about running a business as I go, but it’s all part of the adventure.

What are you plans for the future?

To carry on building a client list and I am always looking out for new opportunities.  Last September I started working at an acupuncture clinic in Kingston University and I can see myself joining up with other practitioners like osteopaths or chiropractors in multi-disciplinary clinics if the right opportunity arises.  The healing power of acupuncture is so amazing I constantly want to read and find out more about different styles of acupuncture and learn from other practitioners’ experiences.  Being in London, I am lucky to have a huge selection of lectures and courses to attend.

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

Enjoy what you do.  Building a practice takes time but it will be a lot easier if your career excites you.  Be patient and positive and there is no reason why we can’t all have a clinic working at the level we desire.

LCTA INTRODUCES GROUND-BREAKING MASTERS IN CHINESE MEDICINE

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 http://www.lcta.com.

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.


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 was great fun at my age!

Kathy Hilditch is 61 years old.  She lives in Southgate and graduated with a BSc in Acupuncture from LCTA in 2009.  She is currently studying Tui Na.  Kathy is a Barristers Clerk and is retiring on 1st April 2010 to practice acupuncture full-time.  Here she talks about her experience as a mature student at LCTA:

What made you decide to retrain?

I wanted a new career that I would enjoy when I retired.

How did you find LCTA?

I came to the Teaching Clinic for treatment in 2003.

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

It had a good reputation and was near to home.

What was your favourite aspect of the course?

The chance to learn.

What were your fellow students like?

They were all very nice.

What did you think of the LCTA staff and tutors?

They were great.

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

It’s so long since I studied that I did not have any fixed ideas.  So it was completely new to me.

What was it like to be a student at LCTA?

It was great fun at my age!

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

I already practice from home and I will be in the City of London in a practice very soon.

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

It was inspiring and a little daunting at times.  I still can’t believe it!

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I should have believed in myself more.

Now that you are back at LCTA, how have you found the first few weeks of your tui na course?

I was in two minds whether to start in September rather than March as I thought it may be too much with starting my practice.  I decided to go for it, and have found it really helpful. It’s refreshing my knowledge all the time.

Are you enjoying being more hands on?

I love the more hands on approach and the palpation skills are invaluable.  I now really feel that this will be great to run alongside my first year in practice.  I also wanted to do Qi Gong to cultivate my Qi and energy, for my practice and general good health.

Was it easier to get yourself into it having already done the acupuncture course?

I’m still at work but I finish next week so I will be able to study at a more leisurely pace than before, which became very difficult when I was doing the acupuncture degree.  I can’t wait to have more time to myself and be more relaxed about everything.

Just before I started Tui Na my mother had a massive stroke.  She has reached a great age, nearly 94, and sadly will not recover, so my life has become even more complicated with the inevitable about to happen.  I was looking forward to spending more time with her and giving her more attention, so I’m very sad about that and she was looking forwarded to it as well, how cruel life can be!  I really feel as though one chapter in my life is closing and another is about to begin.   Tui Na will be good for me to focus on.

What are you plans for the future?

I would like to build a good practice and get a good name for myself.

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

Keep going, it’s worth it.


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!