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 Traditional Chinese Medicine

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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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.

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!