Capturing the Spirit and Giving it a Deadline Hla Myat Saw This article explores the challenges facing traditional Chinese medicine as it enters a new era of professionalisation. With its roots in a traditional master-apprentice model, and a concept of qi in its knowledge and skills, Chinese medicine might at first sight appear to be quite unsuited to today’s educational environment. Yet, examining some of the traits within the traditional learning styles, and with reference to the work of Roger Neighbour for the vocational training of general medical practitioners, the author finds that an ‘inner apprentice’ can be released when awareness-centred, student-led methods are used. The release of the ‘inner apprentice’ aids the capture of the indefinable ‘spirit of Chinese medicine – and a sense of qi’ by the student, but it can still escape assessment. The article examines this point of tension.
A Day in the Life of a Reflective Teacher Felicity Moir This paper seeks to explain the inner deliberations of a clinical teacher in an acupuncture clinic. The intentions of the research were twofold: to explore the method of reflection as a research tool within clinical teaching and through this to illuminate the personal filters through which I view my teaching. Reflection is a powerful tool that can help reveal the dissonance between our espoused theories of adult education and our theories-in-use. Being both patient-centred and student-centred generates tensions that impact on our teaching.
The Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Cancer (Part 1) Dr Friedrich Staebler This paper is written for acupuncturists to examine the challenges we are faced with when treating patients with cancer. It looks at what cancer is, both in the western and TCM paradigm, and examines the role of the emotions in the development of cancer. Questions are asked: What happens to patients when they are diagnosed with cancer? What are the treatment options? When are we, as acupuncturists, called upon and what is our role as carers and as acupuncturists? What can acupuncture and Chinese medicine contribute in the treatment of cancer, and where are the limitations? The aim of this paper is to encourage acupuncturists to participate in the fight against cancer without being unrealistic and over-confident about the treatment outcome.
Patients’ Explanatory Models of Acupuncture: How and Why do They Think it Works? Sylvia Schroer This article reports on a small study to investigate how patients explained the workings of acupuncture in the light of their own experience of treatment. 15 patients of different ages and from socio-economic backgrounds were interviewed and issues such as reasons for having treatment, the effects of treatment, and the importance of the therapeutic relationship were discussed to reveal the explanatory models which they used to describe their experiences. One of the findings of the study was that patients’ narratives shifted during the course of treatment from mechanical theories or physical explanations of illness towards theories of equilibrium, of mind-body harmony, and ethical theories, with treatment seen as a cleansing process. The study found that also found that patients themselves, through their experience of treatment, are moving away from a narrow definition of acupuncture as a treatment for the relief of pain or physical symptoms towards a much broader conceptualisation for its therapeutic potential in the context of their lives.
Reflective Practice, Professionalism and Acupuncture Education Ann Hopper and Allen Parrott Although reflective practice has been adopted as an educational approach in a number of mainstream professions over the years, it would seem to have a special affinity with the emerging profession of traditional acupuncture. Like acupuncture, reflective practice encourages people to look at everyday experience in a different way. Both insist on the uniqueness of particular situations and the importance of context. Each shares a suspicion of ‘off-the-peg’ prescriptions and universal solutions to life’s problems. In these ways they act as a necessary counterweight to the current dominance in the western world of a narrow scientific and objectivist approach to life and knowledge. The authors carefully deconstruct the view that reflective practice means nothing more than a mental review or a rehearsal in the brain of things that have happened during one’s working day, and then move on to discuss the teaching and learning of reflective practice on professional degree courses. Read the whole article
The Inner Development of the Practitioner Angela Hicks, John Hicks and Peter Mole This article is an extract from the book Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture. The authors point out that throughout the history of Chinese medicine, it has been understood that the individuality of the practitioner has an enormous effect on the efficacy of acupuncture treatment. They suggest that because the emphasis of Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture is on treating at the subtlest levels of the person’s qi, it is natural that many practitioners of this style of acupuncture place a great deal of importance on their internal state. A number of issues relating to inner development are discussed including, the practitioner’s inner state, focusing attention, intention, maximising rapport with the patient, compassion, empathy and cultivating linghuo or virtuosity.
Strengthening the Case that Acupuncture is Safe in Competent Hands Hugh MacPherson This article reports on a prospective study, funded by the British Acupuncture Council, looking into the safety of acupuncture treatment. The study involved 1 in 3 members of the BAcC who between them recruited 9,400 patients as survey respondents. The characteristics of the acupuncture patients and their reason for seeking treatment are outlined. Short-term reactions to treatment are described, along with perceived adverse events reported in a 3-month follow-up questionnaire. The data presented belie alarmist claims that non-physician acupuncturists put patients at risk by delaying conventional diagnosis and treatment and/or advising changes in prescribed medication. The conclusion from this large-scale and rigorously conducted study strongly reinforces existing evidence that acupuncture, when practised by qualified acupuncture practitioners, is a safe intervention. It also provides compelling evidence that the standards promoted by the BAcC have led to qualified acupuncturists being safe in their broader role as healthcare professionals. Read the whole article