I think it was the last chapter in the “Web That Has No Weaver”. It was called the “Art of Chinese Medicine” or something of that sort. When I read it, I loved it. I made a ton of copies (even though I owned the book), so I could read it everywhere, anytime and could pass it along to other people.
I happened to sit through the debates on the FPD at the CCAOM meeting a few years back and open public discussions on the FPD, so I learned a little about it. What was it. Why they wanted it, etc. etc.
Some people want the FPD, they say it will provide a better education. There is so much to Chinese Medicine. Students aren’t given enough time to learn enough. They aren’t prepared for the “real” world of practice.etc.etc. The 3-4 years it takes now is too rushed, too shallow.
A practice of acupuncture (or Chinese Medicine) is both a science and an art.
What is the role of education?
Ask any HR person at any company. (Especially small business owners) (Especially people that specialize in hiring people right out of school)
Our education gives us the fundamentals, the building blocks from which to understand the system of Chinese Medicine. Right out of a phD program a person could probably be a teacher (with no clinical experience or case studies)
But how does a person practice acupuncture right out of school?
- People think back to the first 6 months of practice.
Well right after I graduated I thought I was going to be like superman (superwoman to be exact). In the Maciocia book, it listed about every possible diseases and protocols for everything. So I was going to “cure” all those impossible diseases that plagued the everyday lives of common men and women (i.e. infertility, mania, stroke, paralysis, anxiety, depression, menopause, plum pit qi, running piglet syndrome, borborygmos.etc.etc.) (don’t laugh too hard 😉
- Then you actually try to treat “real” people in the “real” world.
Then I am just scared. “Real” people aren’t like textbooks and don’t respond as well as cases in text books (and even if they did you would have to convince them that they needed to come in for the THREE MONTHS that it took to cure the case in the textbook). RIGHT.
They ask you questions you can’t answer. You break out in cold sweats every time you’re treating someone because let’s face it. You’ve NEVER seen this before and have NO IDEA what you’re doing. You try to find new ways to acupuncture yourself for sweaty palms so you don’t drop your needles 😉
Let’s not talk about the “business” part of the practice… 😉
- So what do we do?
- A) Let’s get another degree. Having a few more letters after my name always makes me feel more confident and less of a hack. (In case you’re wondering my parents tried to convince me to get a phD while I was “interning” in China. I told them that killing and torturing cute fluffy bunnies with acupuncture needles is bad for my karma)
- B) Grit your teeth and just hack it. Yes, you have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea why some people are getting better and some people aren’t. And you’ve long given up writing pretty Maciocia style TCM diagnosis on patient charts (i.e. phelgm fire rising, with damp cold in the lower jiao) or you just kind of make them up as you go.
Eventually, you develop some semblance of you own style of “healing” (big needles? little needles? few needles? lots of needles? auricular? scalp? intent? how intent?). As you’re acupuncturing a pastor you wonder if it’s more appropriate for their healing process to be drawing energy from the universal qi chanting enya like chants of Amen instead of your usual buddhist ones.
And people get better. Some don’t, but a lot do. And you think the world is just crazy.
Let’s face it.
The Practice of Acupuncture or any sort of medicine really is both an art and a science. You’re not going to learn how to “practice” from school.
- P.S. I was studying with one of those old old old old chinese medicine doctors in China. He had one of those “Zan Zao” patients menapause, just crazy. She came to see him like once a week for like the last 2 years. He whisper one day that he adds and subtracts things from her herbal formula every time she comes, because THAT makes her feel better. Not the added herbs you know. Just the process of adding and subtracting semi-random things.