I was first introduced to alternative medicine techniques at a young age. Because of my desire to become a veterinarian, I took a particular interest in learning about numerous aspects of animal medicine. I was fortunate enough to get a shadowing position with a veterinarian certified in acupuncture and saw first-hand how it could help patients that had run out of options. It made me want to become certified myself so that I could offer such services to my clients in the future. When I heard about the course offered by the Chi Institute in Beijing, I thought what better way to begin learning acupuncture than in the place it was discovered and developed? We also had the option to explore some of the culture prior to the class as well so that we could get more out of the trip than just the course. The trip would serve to complete the second of the first two courses for acupuncture certification. The first course was done online as a series of lectures introducing the history, techniques, and theories of acupuncture and the second was the onsite, hands-on portion in Beijing.
I represented A&M along with two of my classmates and we began our trip with the pre tour where we were able to see some of Beijing’s major historical sites. Over the course of 4 days, I visited the Lama Temple, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, and the Great Wall. On the 4th day, we had free time to go about the city to explore anything we desired. My classmates and I were able to meet up with a vet student from China who took us to enjoy a different kind of Chinese cuisine called hot pot, and to visit Beihai Park. We also looked around the shop streets, and the grounds and parks where the Olympics were held, all while becoming quite proficient in using the public transportation system. One of the most interesting aspects of the tours was interacting with the people and trying the local cuisine.
After the tours, we moved to a different hotel where our course was being hosted. We began each day with a breakfast of traditional foods before beginning lecture or lab activities. The first day of class was all lectures discussing fundamental points such as the five element theory and Zang-fu physiology. We practiced self-needling so that we could learn the correct way to place needles and then talked about techniques such as dry, aqua, moxa, and electro acupuncture. The next day, the class was split into working groups that each had an instructor to help teach us over a hundred of the most commonly used acupuncture points. Each group had a greyhound to palpate and locate points for practice. Subsequent lectures on the concluding days focused on how to make a diagnosis based on traditional Chinese medicine and how to treat common syndromes and diseases using acupuncture.
Upon conclusion of the course, we flew to Hong Kong for three days to further immerse ourselves in the new culture and to take the opportunity to take advantage of a connection made in a study abroad trip from the prior summer. Last year, I was in South Africa for a conservation medicine course with Wildlife Vets and met a veterinarian that worked at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. We asked to shadow the veterinary staff at the park while we were in town and were given visitor passes so that we could follow them as they went about their schedule for the day. I had the privilege to observe blood draws and ultrasounds on dolphins, and health checks on sloths and sturgeons. My fellow classmates and I also explored local cuisine, The Peak on Hong Kong Island, took the Star Ferry to Kowloon, and walked through Hong Kong Park. My favorite thing we did in Hong Kong was to go to the horseraces at Happy Valley racecourse.
Upon completion of this trip I have finished two of five parts required for certification and I fully intend to complete all remaining parts in the future in hopes that having another treatment option will help make me a better, more well-rounded doctor. I never thought I would find myself in China, but I am glad I took this opportunity to visit another part of the world to see a new culture and way of life. I have succeeded in gained knowledge of both a worldly and veterinary nature while making new friends and meeting colleagues from around the world.