I qualified from ICOM’s acupuncture course in 1994 and it still seems like yesterday in many ways. The college is still situated in the same beautiful old house in East Grinstead, imbued with an unmistakably magical athmosphere; a centre for healing as well as diligent study. Everybody here is helpful and friendly and there is a real sense of family and support that pervades through all the generations of graduates, the staff and teachers.
After completing the acupuncture course, I set up practise in Eastbourne http://www.eastbournenaturalmedicine.co.uk/ and Tunbridge Wells http://www.hamblys.net/, where I work to this day.
Teaching Acupuncture In Myanmar
My first clinical teaching experiences were gained by getting involved in a charitable teaching program for acupuncture in Myanmar (Burma) http://www.myanmaracupunctureproject.org/
We teach local doctors within a hospital ward setting. There always is an extraordinarily busy and vibrant athmosphere, a lot of patients to be seen and a very limited amount of time for teaching in depth. Most of the learning happens via ‘bedside teaching’, i.e.: in clinic. A very different way of acupuncture training to the experience at ICOM! Through dedication of all involved however, the project is going from strength to strength and is currently in its 14th year!
Teaching On ICOM’s Acupuncture Course
When I came back to teach at ICOM last year, as a supervisor in the student clinics, I was really struck by the luxury of time that we have here to learn, question, observe and then decide on the perfect treatment for each client.
By the time I meet the ICOM students in clinic, they already have a lot of theoretical knowledge, waiting to be implemented. Here, everything starts to fall into place…after some discussion and investigation.
From the first, often quite terrifying and exciting time of being in charge of a proper acupuncture treatment within a group setting, to being able to do the diagnosis and treatment all alone a year later is still a big journey.
There is an abundance of knowledge that ICOM students learn before being asked to put things into practise. So, armed with all this ancient and modern wisdom in clinic, the students find themselves face to face with a real person who needs help, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.
Carrying the responsibility of giving a treatment, the best possible treatment for this person on this day, extracting those few suitable points to needle, from the abundance of points, and then physically needling them, ensuring the clients comfort and safety throughout the whole session, giving appropriate advice ……it all takes a little bit of practise before it flows easily!
It is a pleasure to be able to accompany the budding practitioners along this road that still is paved with many doubts and questions among the growing confidence and understanding.
The clinical training of ICOM’s acupuncture course progresses from practical days, where a whole group of students treat and discuss a case together under supervision, to one to one clinics, still under supervision, to the last days in clinic where students are more or less independent, unless they ask for help. This is really a wonderful and gradual way into learning to practise alone, step by step supported.
On the last day of supervised clinics for the current graduates, I felt like I was amongst fellow practitioners, rather than students and it is a pleasure to see another generation join the ICOM family.