torsdag 21 april 2011

Back from China, old doctors (which you can´t find in the West) and changing universities

A lot of stuff in that title and a lot of stuff in this post.

I went to China for two weeks doing research for a book. The trip went very well, with some unique information coming out of it.

I also got the chance to attend clinic and learn from a laoyisheng, the honorific the Chinese use for ”Old Doctor”, usually a practitioner, man or woman, who is above 60 years old and has at least 30 years daily work in Chinese medicine behind them. The one I met is in his early seventies, with 40 years clinical experience in hospitals and clinics. He has also done deep research in trying to improve the skill and knowledge in the system he was trained in. Seeing his skill makes it all too obvious how much is lacking in the West, how little has made it over here. This man is, of course, at the apex of his professional life, and a naturally gifted doctor to boot, but you still feel sad about how little we have available of it. There are no Old Doctors in the West, pretty much due to the fact that Chinese medicine is too young here. Maybe we can produce some budding ones over the next century.

Another factor in this is the sheer number of patients. A typical Chinese doctor in hospitals sees an average of 20-40 patients in a day, sometimes a lot more, five days a week. A Western acupuncturist with their own clinic might have an average of 6-8 patients a day, and might not work every day of the week. Having access to the huge numbers means an increase in skills and diagnostics that the lower numbers simply will never approach.

I am also quitting the course at the university. The blog hiccups here a bit, over that, but the blog is supposed to be about what it is like studying acupuncture in the West, and my experience with some of the low-grade teachers is a very common complaint among students of chinese medicine in the West, so it is quite typical of what is like to study acupuncture here. Are they all Old Doctors and maestros of the art in China? No. Not at all. But the main Chinese training is five years minimum, full time at university, the chinese medical doctor course, and that will produce a very different level of skill than the average course in the West. There are downsides to the chinese training too, but just by it being closer to the source and huge in length compared to the courses here, it produces very different results.

So. Due to the way the course was structured at the first university, and due to issues with the teaching methodology of two of the modules (50% of the course), I will now be looking at another university course in London. This one is quite different to the first, with a stronger emphasis on Chinese medicine itself, and less a focus on the Western biomedical side as being something to adapt to. I will give more information about the difference between the two later.

I am also, due to 20 years of previous study and full-time work in the field, of course not the student these courses are designed for. So, right now, I am trying to find a course and way of training that will maximize my previous skills while upgrading the new ones. But at the course I am attending now, the past nine months of full time course has included 10 percent purely new information on the Chinese medical side for me. 5% of them, I can pick up straight out of books. The other 5% are the skills of good practitioners, and that is much more rare and valuable. But those are possible to reach without attending a university course where the amount of Western Physiology is 25%, packed with information and badly taught.

More on this later.

Next post will be about the Stomach, an organ much more focused on in China than in the West.