We are a Part of Nature
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the most successful traditional medicines in the world. It has a history of more than 2000 years in China and many other eastern countries. It is mainly comprised of Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and tuina (massage).
Acupuncturists in BC are registered at the regulatory body – College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners + Acupuncturists, BC, usually called CTCMA. Japanese acupuncture and other styles of acupuncture are not licensed by CTCMA, thus their practitioners are not allowed to use the title as Registered Acupuncturist.
BC is one of the four pioneer provinces in Canada, which regulated acupuncture as early as in 2000 and BC is the only one province regulating Chinese herbal medicine, or called Chinese medicine.
There are 226 registered acupuncturists by the end of 2020 in Victoria. Some of them were registered in recent years; some had practiced in China 20 years before BC started its regulation on acupuncture and Chinese medicine. If you are considering trying acupuncture treatment, you must be wondering how to find out a good acupuncturist.
To help you look for a good acupuncturist, this article helps you to directly dig into their credentials by taking following factors into consideration.
1) Years of formal education in TCM (including acupuncture)
Most acupuncturists in Victoria have three years education in acupuncture. Three years’ education is a minimum requirement to write the licensing exam and to get a license for acupuncture practice in BC.
Some senior acupuncturists who had not received a formal education in acupuncture in a college or university were licensed to practice in 2000, the first year acupuncture profession being regulated. They were usually taught by themselves and some of them got internship chances in China or other eastern countries.
About one third of acupuncturists had received 4 or 5 years education in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine before licensed. Their knowledge structure is similar to their counterparts in China. They have knowledge of both acupuncture and Chinese medicine, thus have a deeper view of TCM’s diagnosis of syndrome and diagnosis of disease which is essential to lead an efficient treatment.
In eastern countries, acupuncture education is not separated from Chinese medicine education. In North America, acupuncture entered earlier than Chinese medicine, so it is separated from Chinese medicine.
2) Where the education was received
Education of TCM in BC is highly recognized by other provinces in Canada. There are about 15 to 20 private colleges offering acupuncture education in BC. Each college can recruit students roughly about 10 to 30 for acupuncture study each year. Each college has 3 to 5 instructors teaching all acupuncture courses and training students clinically. In recent years, Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver started offering diploma program of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It is the first public university offering a full time program in TCM in Canada.
More than 90% of registered acupuncturists in Victoria were graduated from colleges in some cities in Canada. All of them are qualified to provide a safe acupuncture service, though their professional competence varies greatly. The difference among their acupuncture needling operation skills is not a key factor affecting their overall treatment effect. The key factor is their capability to fully understand a disease, understand its diagnosis and its prognosis in TCM (as well as in Western medicine).
Less than 5% of these registered acupuncturists had received their education in TCM universities in China before they moved to Victoria. TCM universities in China are all owned by government. Each Chinese province has one TCM university in its capital city. Each university has more than one thousand of full-time staff and ten thousand of full-time students. It has to be admitted that the general quality of acupuncture education between China and Canada is vastly gapped.
An acupuncturist’s experience has been either accumulated from China or from Canada. In China, an acupuncturist may have more chances to treat more different kinds of diseases, especially, those who practices as herbalist and a Western medicine doctor definitely have more chances treating a great number of different diseases.
An acupuncturist who practices just in Canada sees far less varieties of diseases, and it is difficult for them to compete with those who have a Chinese background of education and practicing. Those professionals who came from China made their contribution to the development of acupuncture profession in Canada.
Nevertheless, the longer time an acupuncturist works in his profession the more experiences he should have. There are a small number of acupuncturists in Victoria, who have practiced acupuncture long before acupuncture profession being regulated. They are very good at treating certain diseases and they are good at communication with patients.
There are another small number of acupuncturists who have already worked in this field for more than 30 years in China and Canada in combination. They are the backbone of acupuncture profession. They are teachers at TCM colleges in Victoria and many acupuncturists in Victoria were formally their students. Some of them speak very fluent English and are also good at communication with their patients.
It is believed that TCM is medicine with a macro-view while Western medicine is that with a micro-view. Knowledge of Western medicine helps an acupuncturist views a disease in both macro and micro pictures, thus he could be more capable to understand a disease in-depth.
In our Victoria, there is an acupuncturist who is also a medical doctor, and she has been focusing on TCM practice for more than twenty years. And there are a few acupuncturists who had worked in hospitals in China, practicing both Chinese and Western medicine. And there are some acupuncturists who were medical doctors and learned TCM after they came to Canada. All of them are great at understanding diagnosis and prognosis of a disease and well know what their treatment result should be expected.
An acupuncturist who knows well of Western medicine would not expect to cure a disease in 30 days if the disease’s natural course is only about 7 days; he would analyze all medications or supplements his patient is on, and he may just ask his patient stop taking certain supplements so to cure a illness which is from side effect of that supplement.
It seems that highest degree is the best and highest title from CTCMA is the best. It really depends. There are about four acupuncturists in Victoria who have the highest degree in TCM education, PhD from China. There are two or more acupuncturists who only have a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree from China.
There is no direct relationship between degree and clinical competence. The clinical competence is from clinical practice, not from a degree. A low degree holder who has longer time in practice is easily superior to a high degree holder. A newly graduated PhD who spent 10 year for that degree is apparently weaker in clinic than a bachelor degree graduate who spent 5 years in school and 5 years in independent practice.
In BC, TCM education is at the level of diploma, 3 years diploma for acupuncture, 4 to 5 years diploma for TCM (acupuncture and Chinese medicine). After passing relevant licensing exam, an acupuncturist can receive a title from CTCMA as: Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac), Registered TCM Practitioner (TCM.P) or Registered TCM doctor (DTCM), approving of entry level of practice.
At the same logic, a TCMP is not necessarily inferior to DTCM if his practicing years are much more than the DTCM. But a TCMP or DTCM should be more competent than a R.Ac in a long run because his TCM fundamental knowledge is more solid.
Among 226 registered acupuncturists in Victoria, who would be the best for you? This article is not to rank these practitioners; instead, it is to help you find an acupuncturist who is most suitable for you. Hope you find your acupuncturist easily among next 3 groups.
Acupuncturists who had their education in China and have working experience in both China and Canada
Dr. Yin, Master degree, started practice in 1984 in China, ? in Canada
Dr. Hu, PhD, started practice in1986, 2004 in Canada
Dr. Chen, PhD, started practice in 1988 in China, 1996 in Canada
Dr. ? PhD, started practice in ? in China, ? in Canada
Dr. Zhang, PhD, started practice in ? in China, ? in Canada
Dr. Pan, Bachelor’s degree, started practice in ? in China, ? in Canada
Dr. Zheng, Bachelor’s degree, started practice in ? China, ? in Canada
Acupuncturists who were medical doctors in China or in Canada and learned TCM in Canada
Dr. Hu, Bachelor’s degree in Western medicine, started practicing western medicine in ?, acupuncture in ?, in Canada
Dr. ?, Bachelor’s degree in Western medicine, started practicing western medicine in ？， acupuncture in ? in Canada
Acupuncturists who had their education in Canada and got internship in China and have working experience in Canada
Acupuncturists who had their education and working experience in Canada
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