John Hamwee Published by Singing Dragon, 2012. Softback, 160pp. ISBN 9781848191020 Price: £12.99
(Reviewed by Mel Koppelman, EJOM Vol. 7 No. 2)
I’ll be honest; this is not usually the type of book I am drawn to. Having qualified as an acupuncturist 15 months ago, I am eager to develop my technical skills and usually go for books on specialised subjects such as electroacupuncture, Japanese acupuncture, pulse diagnosis, or even accounting or marketing to help with the business side of things. It would never occur to me to reach for a book like this. And yet, I can easily say that Acupuncture for New Practitioners by John Hamwee has had the most positive impact on how I practise since I qualified, and that these results have been immediate.
This book, aimed at acupuncturists who have qualified in the last few years, fills a much needed gap in the literature. On the one hand, our training has provided us with the skills we need to go out and treat real live patients (and charge money for the privilege!) And yet many of our novice mistakes are still ahead of us. We are still in the process of developing our personal style, still perhaps awkward about developing a treatment plan and communicating with certain types of patient, and many of us are still more than a bit mystified by pulses. Trying to accurately diagnose the patient based on the myriad signs and symptoms, effectively needle the correctly chosen points, and manage the treatment plan while still managing to converse in a somewhat normal fashion with the poor patient in front of us can seem overwhelming.
Having left the supportive comfort of the crowded student clinic, practising in our own clinic can be an isolated affair, particularly in the face of the foibles we inevitably make in our early years. Reading this book is like listening to a trusted mentor. Hamwee uses his experience of both his own development as a practitioner and of teaching recently qualified acupuncturists to offer nine chapters of very practical advice. The tone is kindly, almost avuncular, and the pages are filled with personal stories and anecdotes. Topics explored include: being present, being yourself, keeping things simple, ways of viewing success and failure, and a brilliant hack on getting the most from pulse taking.
Eleanor Roosevelt wisely advised us to ‘learn from the mistakes of others’ and indeed the examples from Hamwee’s own practice afford the reader an opportunity to do just that. The themes of the chapters are unlikely to be new to too many people (e.g. be yourself) but the advice is presented in a specific enough way as to be easily implemented immediately. The style of the book is light and conversational and it will not take much time to get through. The volume, a paperback edition of 159 pages priced at £12.99, is not completely without typos or grammatical errors, but these do not overly detract from the value to be gained in spending time with this book. Aimed primarily at the recently qualified, this book is recommended for any acupuncturist needing a bit of advice or inspiration.
Mel Koppelman Mel Koppelman qualified as an acupuncturist from the Northern College of Acupuncture in 2011 and submitted her dissertation in fulfillment of a Masters degree in Acupuncture in 2012. She currently practises in Leicester, where she has set up her own multi-disciplinary clinic. She is currently undertaking a PGDip. in Nutritional Therapy, also from the NCA.