The course was recommended to me by professionals and had strong credentials. Its structure and philosophy mirrored what I was hoping to achieve throughout training.
The course offered a university degree as opposed to accreditation from a college/private institution and this was a big draw for me. I also liked the fact the course had a healthy balance of Chinese and Western tutors and that its structure was based on the traditional degree course on offer at reputed Beijing University.
The authenticity of the course, conversing with other students studying to become healthcare practitioners, the university's clinic and my hospital placements.
As an international student, it was also a real pleasure studying in London and experiencing the multicultural richness it has to offer.
The condensed flashback you get at graduation of all your hard work, sweat, tears and laughter during your time at university.
It has been the cornerstone of my career so far.
It offered the opportunity to interact positively and constructively with people and their lives, to better understand the human body and nature, and to be able to influence both in a way that minimises negative impacts on the environment.
For me the pros are obvious: working in healthcare, you get to make a difference to someone's health, engage positively and constructively with the community at large, and gain a better understanding of some of life's great events.
The main con is that for those working in traditional Chinese medicine, you have to fit into a pre-existing medical structure and you don't necessarily have a spot waiting for you upon graduation; you have to find the opportunities.
While building my own practice, I started working for a clinic where one of its practitioners was reducing her work hours in order to start a PhD. This provided me with a great opportunity to take over part of her patient base and build up my own while working in a supervised environment. This meant I could ask questions if I encountered challenges.
Deciding to start all over again when I moved to Taiwan for 18 months to study Mandarin and do clinical placements there.
The fruits of the work I am putting in today.
Firstly, don't assume that just because you have obtained your degree your training has finished. In my view, a degree is just the foundation for your future career; it gives you the communication, ability to reflect and skills required to work in your chosen field, but to grow professionally in the field of Chinese medicine you need to carry out further study and research. Your university training provides you with the skills to practice and ensures you are not a danger to the general public, but the ability to deal with complex diseases with confidence comes with experience and postgraduate training.
Secondly, make sure that while you are at university you engage with tutors and other students studying your course as well as other courses. It is very useful to keep in touch and amazing to see how your peers evolve.
Lastly, immerse yourself in the professional world as soon as possible. Take on reception work in a clinic or extra placements with other doctors, etc. The experience and insight you will gain is invaluable when it comes to starting up your own practice.