The London College of Traditional Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (LCTA), of which I am the Principal, has been a Collaborative Partner of the University of Portsmouth since 2003 when we first validated our undergraduate degree in Acupuncture. Not a subject you might expect to see delivered at degree level, perhaps. But in fact, if you took a doctorate in Chinese medicine (which includes herbal medicine and massage) in China it would be likely to take you seven years, so a three-year degree programme in acupuncture is par for the course.
When I completed my first acupuncture training in the early ‘80s my family practically disowned me: as I put in my little needles and used words they didn’t understand, I think they thought I had completely lost the plot and had trained to be a witch! There was little or no understanding of acupuncture in the UK at that point. Luckily times have changed since then and we in the West are finally learning to have a bit more reverence and respect for a highly sophisticated system of medicine with two and a half thousand years of history behind it. It is perhaps testament to the effectiveness of this medical system that in the world today many more people still have Chinese medicine as their primary system of medicine, rather than taking western medicine as their first port of call. In the West Chinese medicine is still gaining credibility: following the House of Lords recommendation from their Select Committee on complementary medicine in 2000, the government is moving towards statutory regulation for both acupuncture and herbal medicine, and we anticipate that this welcome move will be effected within the next couple of years.
LCTA is based in North London, so it is sometimes surprising to people that we chose to develop a collaborative partnership with the University of Portsmouth. In fact, we talked to 16 different universities whilst we were seeking validation for our Acupuncture programme. The University of Portsmouth stood out for us for two reasons: first because we found them open and receptive to what we were doing, which of course was central to our decision because over time uninformed skepticism can become tedious. Secondly, we liked their rigorous approach. Good quality assurance is a pleasure to work with, and we have had a consistently excellent experience working with the School of Pharmacy.
As a collaborative partner of the university we are fortunate to be able to maintain much of our autonomy, whilst benefiting from access to Portsmouth’s experience and support. The College is a private, non-profit-making institution with about 300 self-funded, mature students. Our students are mostly career-changers with an average age of 35 and they come from a wide variety of backgrounds: anything from scientists to nurses, builders to financiers. 50% of them already have a degree in another subject before they begin: a challenging and fascinating group of people to work with.
Alongside the acupuncture degree we run an MSc in Chinese herbal medicine and diploma programmes in tui na (Chinese massage) and qi gong (a form of energy work, similar to T’ai Chi). Our lecturing staff are as you would expect: highly experienced, very hands on and entirely passionate – not to say single-minded - about their subject.
We also run a teaching clinic in which our students are able to practice under supervision. The clinic has a good profile in the local community and treats nearly 200 patients a week with acupuncture, herbs and tui na. We are currently looking for funding to upgrade the clinic and research some of the aspects of what we do, including research and the development of specialist clinics.
For those who want a bit more light on the subject, LCTA runs regular Presentation Days. Courses begin in March and September each year and Presentation Days, which are free to attend, are an invaluable way of understanding the opportunities and the practicalities of studying Chinese medicine. Forthcoming Presentation Day details are on our site. Or if you would like to meet us for a less formal introduction to what we do, please give me a call and it can easily be arranged.
Direct tel: 020 8369 5737
LCTA, 90 Kingsway, North Finchley, London, N12 0EX