When I first heard that Dr. Zheng, one of our teachers at Yo San, annually takes a group of students to Beijing to observe the use of acupuncture in a Chinese hospital setting, I knew I wanted to go. In previous years I have had some friends that have gone with him and loved it. I was so curious to see how Chinese Medicine is practiced in its country of origin. I decided to make it an educational as well as celebratory graduation trip.
We were there for a total of two weeks. Each weekday we went in the morning to do observation in one of several hospitals in different departments. We were divided up in to groups and had a translator who specializes in translating Chinese Medicine concepts between Chinese and English. I was interested to learn that this is actually a major, and the translators have to learn everything about Chinese Medicine theory and points and herbs, etc, but they don’t practice, they just facilitate communication.
My observation group consisting of me, Pei-Jen, Jenny, and our translator Christine in front of the Chinese Hospital of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
Pei-Jen in the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialty Clinic at Tong Ren Hospital. One doctor was treating all of the patients in this room, which had at least eight beds in it, and a few in the next room as well. I was impressed with the volume of patients that one doctor is able to see, making acupuncture a very cost effective treatment. Additionally, most patients are instructed to come at least two to three times a week, so the doctors are kept very busy.
Making formulas in the Herb Lab.
In the afternoon after lunch, we had lectures on different topics in Chinese Medicine ranging from healthy aging, to treating cancer, orthopedics, dermatology, fertility, and an interesting microsystem based on needling only the diagram of a turtle drawn on the abdomen.
Our afternoon lecture classroom. There is Christine at the front translating for us.
In the evening we either had free time to explore, or a planned group activity. One night we ventured out to the Silk Market, which is a large building filled with shops primarily for tourists where you can bargain for your purchases. It turns out that I am terrible at bargaining, and intimidated by the extremely aggressive sales people, so after my first foray into buying something, I just window shopped. Others in my group loved the bargaining, and came back to the Silk Market many times to buy souvenirs. I enlisted them to make a few purchases for me.
Another night we ventured to an area called Wangfujing, which had shopping as well as a small side street filled with street vendors with what was to me, unusual food items. If you have ever wanted to try scorpion, grub, grasshopper, starfish, seahorse or tarantula kabobs, then this is your destination. Alas I am not brave enough to eat scorpion on a stick, but Pei-Jen immediately purchased and consumed one, declaring it delicious. Scorpion, or Quan Xie, is actually a Chinese herb by the way, good for pain and expelling wind.
Pei-Jen, scorpion connoisseur.
Other weeknight activities included a Kung Fu Show, as well as a Chinese Acrobatic show which I especially enjoyed. On the weekend we went sightseeing and took in the Great Wall, the Jade Museum, the Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, and Tiananmen Square. I love jade, and had decided that I would splurge on a jade bracelet while there, since I have no idea when I will be back. Jade is a precious and beloved stone in China, and it is said to have properties of improving the health of the wearer, even changing colors as it does so. Although I don’t like bargaining, Pei-Jen and I were able to orchestrate a discount because we both purchased one at the Jade Museum. Actually she arranged it because she speaks Chinese and I don’t, and I was very happy that it worked out.
Our Jade Bracelets in the Forbidden City.
Pei-Jen, our translator Frank, Kia, me and Jenny at the Great Wall. Climbing up to this point was quite a workout! It was pretty smoggy, so we felt right at home.
Pei-Jen and Donica at the Summer Palace.
It was a wonderful trip. I learned so much and was inspired to see the range of conditions that Chinese Medicine is able to successfully treat on a large scale, and it was fun to have this unique experience with a group of my Yo San classmates. It had always been a goal of mine to visit China, and this was a fantastic way to do it. If you are a TCM student and considering going, you should definitely do it! This trip also gives 50 CEU credits for licensed acupuncturists, so it is something that you can do even if you are finished with school.