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.
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.