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James Treacher

James TreacherAcupuncturist, Pain Management Service, Kingston Hospital NHS Trust

BSc Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2009

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I chose to study at Middlesex University because of its excellent teaching and laboratory facilities for the Health Sciences. I was also aware of Middlesex University being a world leader in complementary and alternative medicine, providing the first Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) degree programme in Europe.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

I was very impressed with the University's links to several NHS teaching clinics as well as the great research profiles of the course leaders of the programme.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I really enjoyed the clinical placements at the Whittington Hospital and North Middlesex Hospital NHS Pain Clinics. These were very busy and pressured placements but it was incredibly rewarding and insightful to work with patients with chronic pain within an NHS setting.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

Definitely studying and socialising with my classmates on the programme. We were and still are very good friends. Also working with the lecturers, all of whom were incredibly supportive and very personable.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Really consider what career you wish to go into after selecting a course at Middlesex University. It is important to have a clear idea of where you want to go after you graduate.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?

Without a doubt the programme's strong emphasis on clinical placements helped me get my current position within the NHS. Middlesex University as an institution is known within the NHS as producing very good acupuncture and healthcare graduates.

Why did you choose the career you studied for?

I wanted to study a subject that I would use every day and not get bored with. Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture are very dynamic subjects that always provide a challenge and definitely do keep you on your toes!

What are the pros and cons of working within your professional field?

The greatest pro is that you get to help people and sometimes make a real difference to their quality of life. It's a bit of a cliché but really is true. It is also nice to be an active member of a wider healthcare team and play a real part in patients' care at the hospital.

The biggest con I can see is that unfortunately within the UK, acupuncture positions are fairly scarce. However private practice or looking for work abroad can provide greater job opportunities."

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?

I volunteered at a charity for a while before I got my NHS post. This was a really important thing for me to do as it showed employers that I was interested in working with chronic pain and willing to spend my own time on increasing my experience in this area.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

Getting selected for interview at the NHS has been my defining career break. I worked very hard polishing my application and spending time looking at the job specification to ensure I was up to speed on what they would ask me at interview.

What does the future hold for you?

Currently I am working on a few other projects related to increasing access to Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. Watch this space!

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

Offer your skills as a volunteer to charity organisations. This will give you invaluable experience and could potentially lead to a job. Consider adding other skills to your repertoire, such as massage or spa therapies. And finally be patient! The right opportunity will present itself eventually.

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