No strangers to international travel, two 2013 PIHMA graduates with passports and a sense of adventure packed their bags for China. Andrea Koelbl, originally from Germany with a background in nursing, completed her NCCAOM National Board exams (all four of them) between February and May this year at a pace of one per month. She quickly booked her next adventure soon after learning that Selene Hausman also decided that she couldn’t pass up an opportunity to study the medicine in a different environment where traditional Chinese medicine was developed and integrated into their healthcare system.
“We flew into Beijing and stayed there for two days. Did all the sightseeing you can imagine, then we took the bullet train to Shanghai,” says Andrea. “The price was very reasonable, and I think we got way more for our money than we actually paid. We had 4- to 5-star hotels, the sightseeing was sometimes all day long with a lot of meals included so we were really taken care of.”
Selene agreed, adding that the “Great Wall of China, was not only still standing but absolutely spectacular. I have seen buildings only 20 years old that look a lot more dilapidated than the Great Wall. China was amazing. The Summer Palace and the temples that we went to were really great cultural experiences.”
The trip sponsor–TCM Zone, a well-known manufacturer of Chinese herbs in granular form–created this 2-week clinical training opportunity that combined weekend sightseeing as well as fast-paced morning clinics with afternoon lectures from top doctors at Longhua Hospital. Chinese translators, who were medically trained, facilitated their experiences.
What it was like at the Hospital
According to Selene, the hospital doctors they observed were medical doctors who also were trained in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). They all used Western diagnostic tools such as blood tests, urine tests, cat scans and MRIs and can prescribe Western medications and Chinese herbs or refer people to acupuncture or tui na (a form of Asian bodywork).
“We got to see how they integrate Chinese medicine with western therapies…,” says Selene. “Cancer patients were getting moxa treatment to strengthen the body after they had gone through chemotherapy. Moxa helps support the body for quicker healing and a better result.”
“We could choose where we wanted to go. I started out in GYN Herbs, so that’s where I spent the first three days in the morning,” said Andrea. “We had lectures in the afternoon…from cosmetic acupuncture to emotional disorders, then again gynecology from a pretty famous doctor. We were really lucky, all those people we met they were really well known in China, they were senior doctors so we had some good lectures. I never felt that I didn’t know what they were saying. It never was like I didn’t know what he was talking about. They even said we were an advanced group, they were very happy with us.”
“Their approach is so holistic,” Selene says reflecting on her trip. “They only use western medication when absolutely necessary. Patients asked to be transferred to that hospital, because their approach with all medications, both western and eastern, is to give less dosage and to use them for less amount of time…It was nice to see a medical community saying ‘less is more, not more is better’ .”
[Editor’s note: Please post comment below or on our Facebook page if you liked this article. We may be scheduling a travelogue potluck in the near future to share more of the story if there is interest to support it.]