Ancient Cures for a Modern World
The SARS outbreak in 2003 has changed Hong Kong in more ways than one. It has also affected the academic trajectory of the then nine-year-old Iris Lau. ‘Since then it has become my dream to devote myself in the medical field to serve the community. Meanwhile, I began to take a real interest in the holistic and preventive treatment approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thus, I have long since set my sights on the Bachelor of Chinese Medicine programme at CUHK in order to pursue a lifelong career as a Chinese Medicine practitioner, taking care of the physical, mental and spiritual health of the needy regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.’
There is a reason why the CUHK Chinese Medicine programme would catch the Iris’s eye: established in 1999, the programme has always ranked top among the local Chinese medicine programmes. Its high repute is built on an extensive programme design and a good career outlook. ‘The programme nurtures high quality Chinese Medicine graduates, who possess solid Traditional Chinese Medicine skills as well as comprehensive knowledge in modern medicine. Graduates are qualified to take the CMP licensing examination and become a registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner in Hong Kong,’ said Prof. Leung Ting-hung, Director of the School of Chinese Medicine.
Although the programme admits only about 25 new students each year, Iris sees it as a boon because small class size brings ‘unfailing guidance and support from the teachers.’ ‘This enables close bonding and effective mentoring between our teachers and us, fostering academic and personal advancements whilst catering to our individual needs. I am especially grateful that our teachers are incredibly kind-hearted and clinically experienced. I wouldn’t have enjoyed learning so much without their guidance.’
Great teachers aside, Iris has also met her best friends for life at the School. ‘In the first year, 10 of us joined the Chinese Medicine Promotion Society of CUHK, which is a student body that aims to promote the ideas of Traditional Chinese Medicine to all members of the society. We organized a series of activities, such as voluntary services, seminars and interactive workshops on and off campus, which was certainly a pleasant and meaningful experience.’
When asked about the special features of the Chinese Medicine programme, Professor Leung answered, ‘Firstly, we emphasize the importance of classical knowledge in Chinese medicine. Our teachers love to spend extra tutorial sessions in in-depth discussion. Secondly, with the refurbished and upgraded TCM clinic facilities on campus, students can do their practicum and have clinical exposures in their early years of study. Lastly, clinical internship period is lengthened to one and a half years, including internship opportunities under the auspices of local partners and NGOs.’
The experiential side of the programme has a great appeal to Iris. ‘The learning of Traditional Chinese Medicine is not restricted to classroom and clinical training. During the summer vacation, our School organizes a range of academic exchange trips to broaden our horizons and to allow us to meet and exchange ideas with Chinese Medicine students from universities in and out of Hong Kong. When I was a sophomore, I went on a fruitful trip to Hunan and Guizhou provinces in mainland China, in which I had the opportunity to befriend local students, attend academic lectures and engage in various cultural exchange activities.’
The programme looks for applicants who are fast learners with a strong sense of responsibility. ‘Since the six-year curriculum covers broad knowledge from ancient to modern, from east to west, and from theory to hands-on practice, students are expected to show a strong ability to learn new things. The profession also inherently requires high moral standards,’ said Professor Leung.
He went on to stress that while other similar TCM programmes only accept students with a science background, CUHK’s also accepts those with a non-science background.
Iris confessed that the adventure of learning Traditional Chinese Medicine has never been easy. ‘It demands a huge sacrifice of time and effort in equipping ourselves to become qualified practitioners of tomorrow. Nonetheless, with the generous support from our teachers, the journey has become far less bumpy. The most crucial thing to bear in mind is that we don’t study medicine for prestige or wealth, but to prepare for the day when we are the only thing between a patient and the grave.’
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018