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 Teaching Clinic

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.


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!

Learning through experience at the Teaching Clinic

Anna Bernard recently joined LCTA as Teaching Clinic Practice Manager.  Here she tells us a bit about herself and explains how the clinic works.

Anna Bernard

Anna tells us what happens in the LCTA Teaching Clinic

 

I’ve been a qualified acupuncturist for seven years.  I ran the Neal’s Yard therapy rooms five years ago and then left to focus on my own practice.  I worked with Zita West for a year and set up a vocal clinic specialising in singing and presenting for voiceovers which is the other thing that I do to earn a living.  Coming back into such a creative college environment is great; the student environment is fantastic, it’s the best environment to learn in.

In my role as Teaching Clinic Practice Manager I co-ordinate all of the student clinics across acupuncture, herbs and tui na.  I look after both the day-to-day and the strategic management of the clinic, looking at the patient experience and working out how we can give our students the best possible teaching.  This includes ensuring that we attract enough patients for our students to learn from, so I am looking at ways of branching out into the community.

The ideal patient is probably a difficult one: whether it’s a difficult case or just a difficult personality; for instance, a patient who turns up late, or one who doesn’t turn up at all, although it is nice to have a patient who they treat weekly for 12 weeks and see them get better – as this gives the students confidence.  But whilst they are a student it’s also good to have a difficult case so that they can experience as much as possible before they graduate and set up on their own.

The final year students have four clinic blocks lasting eight weeks each and the number of patients is built up slowly but surely so that in the first block they will treat one to two patients per week and by the fourth block, they will have a fairly solid clinic day.  We make sure that they have enough patients to be continually learning.

Part of the clinic day is a two-hour discussion as a group with the clinic supervisor.  There is a set amount that has to be taught in the clinic for each block and the discussion time is also used to discuss stuff that comes up with patients.  So if a student has an interesting case, they have the opportunity to discuss how best to deal with it and all the students have a chance to learn from it through discussion.

The Teaching Clinic gives the students a really valuable insight into what it is like to run a practice.  They get to experience the good and the bad days, the easy and the difficult patients and they learn how to deal with their personal issues – it’s a real journey.

This group of third years is incredible, they have been so good and all the supervisors are really pleased with their progress in this first clinic block.   They work fast and are focused, they’re a very strong group.  This is really exciting for me and you can really feel it in the clinic as well – people are coming back and booking in all the time.  Part of the requirement of the clinical year is that students see and retain a certain number of patients, so this cohort have got off to a great start.

There are clinics available every day apart from Wednesdays and if you don’t mind being observed, it’s a fantastic way to get treated.

For more information about the LCTA Teaching Clinic see the news and information section of the blog.