AC99 Health Centre

MRM's 7 Questions

One of our aims at MRM (Medicinal Roots Magazine) is the desire to inspire and connect the TCM profession. As part of this dream, we developed a set of 7 simple questions to help us feature different practitioners and influential people in the field of TCM. 

 

1. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE TCM?

I was pushed into the work force in 1969 during “Culture Revolution”. Like tens of millions of the youngsters in China during that time period, I had no chance to think of my career. I had no choice but leaving home city to work in a farmland very far away and never heard of before. On that farmland, all of us were farmers to begin with. Everyone was like a chess piece: when you were placed to a position on the chessboard, you learnt about the job, and played the role you were assigned to.

In 1970, I was placed to a position called “battlefield paramedical”, while most of my peers stayed to be farmers. I was sent to a local hospital for a four months training program. After the brief training, I had a title of “barefoot doctor”, and started my medical career. Working with two mentors, I used acupuncture, herbal and simple medication such as painkillers, sleeping pills and antibiotics to treat the local people. I even sutured some simple cuts.

A year later, I was called to the local hospital again. This time, I was assigned to apprentice with a TCM doctor. My master and I were the only TCM practitioners in that hospital, while all the others practiced western medicine there. We served about 50,000 local residents. During that apprenticeship period, I read several TCM classics. I was fascinated by TCM theories and practical methodologies. Everyday, I witnessed many cases cured by simple TCM methods: patients came to our hospital aided by relatives, and walked out by themselves after a brief acupuncture treatment; patients with headaches, shoulder and back pains were thankful as their symptoms were quickly stopped by acupuncture; herbal effectively cured asthma and pneumonia.

I stayed at that position until 1975. Then I had an opportunity to study in a medical school. At this time, I had two options to choose: a western medical university in Shanghai, my hometown, or a TCM university close to my working farmland. For the first time, I could make a decision for my own future. I picked the TCM university with a sound reason. I have never regretted that decision.

2. WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE? PERSONALLY OR PROFESSIONALLY.

I have many professional role models. If I have to name one, it is the medical sage Dr. Zhang Zhong Jing, the author of Treatise on febrile diseases. He was a great scholar. He advises all the doctors to study for their whole life: study literatures; and study each and every patient case. He respected the tradition, and dared to discover new practical methods to resolve clinical challenges. He pursued truth rather than fame. He was a sage and humble gentleman.

3. WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF WORKING IN A HOSPITAL VERSUS A PRIVATE SETTING?

It is a privilege to work in a hospital. One has to meet certain criteria be granted a permission. Hospital provides great learning opportunities that are not available in any private setting. Each department holds regular academic activities including case studies, rounds and seminars presented by renowned experts. One can easily keep up with the newest developments in the field of his interest.

Hospital provides a platform for open communications amongst all the healthcare providers. Many western medical practitioners watch what you do and hear what you say to the patients. Gradually, more western medical practitioners get to understand TCM. They treat you as a colleague and a resource person. And they refer patients to you.

In Canadian hospitals, government funding covers most of medical services. Canadian patients are not prepared to pay from their own pocket for healthcare service. Medicare here should be free. Those who are willing to pay often have a complicated medical condition. They also expect you to bring more superior results than the conventional treatments.

4. HOW DO YOU THINK MODERN RESEARCH WILL AFFECT THE PRACTICE OF TCM IN THE NEXT 
10 YEARS?

Modern research enriches our knowledge. It explains how things happen. It discovers new ideas and corrects misunderstandings. It provides us with new ways to prevent disease from happening and with more effective methods to resolve health problems. Modern research benefits all medical practices, including TCM.

In past decades, the research has found why and how acupuncture is effective in treating many disease conditions. Studies showed that acupuncture stimulates endorphin production, establishing a modern explanation for acupuncture in pain management. Researchers using fMRI supported the association between the acupuncture point on feet and vision activity. Sleep studies have shown acupuncture treatment improves brain electrical activities, and resumes the normal profile of melatonin production. Such researches resulted in convincing evidence for acupuncture treatment. Healthcare professionals and general public become more acceptable to the TCM service.

In the next 10 years, modern research will continue to provide convincing answers to how TCM works. The research will also help us to better understand how our body functions.

However, almost all the medical funding goes to biomedicine research. TCM study gets very limited support at this moment. Therefore, it is only a wishful thinking to expect breakthrough in TCM research in the near future.

5. FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW AS A RESEARCHER IS THERE A DIFFERENT METHODOLOGY THAT 
COULD BE USED TO MORE EFFECTIVELY STUDY TCM?

General readers are more familiar with acupuncture research than herbal research. In my view, current modern acupuncture researches are designed to answer two questions: whether TCM really works; and how it works. Following examples are the studies attempting to address the first question. The study for single PC6 point to stop nausea; the study of acupuncture to control post surgical acute dental pain; and the study for manage knee

 

joint arthritic pain. Results of modern research on acupuncture are often controversial. The arguments will never stop. To the positive results, the skeptical criticizes the control groups used in the experiments were never strict enough. To the negative results, TCM supporters questioned the competency of the acupuncture providers, and blamed the point selection. There have been different attempts to optimize the comparability between the study group and control group: acupuncture vs. no acupuncture; real points vs. wrong points, and real needle vs. fake needle. I would like to see clinical studies to compare the acupuncture treatment with standard drug therapy, or other western medicine intervention for a number of disease conditions. Such study will state whether acupuncture could provide similar results as the standard drug therapy does.

6. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR TCM PRACTITIONERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN TO 
COLLABORATE WITH OTHER HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONS IN CLINICAL CARE OR RESEARCH?

Work in synergy with other healthcare professionals is an expressway to infuse TCM into the mainstream healthcare system. Multidisciplinary approach is more advantageous than one disciplinary approach for patient care.

In a multidisciplinary healthcare team, everyone looks at health problems through an angle that is different from the others. There could be more than one solution to resolve a given problem. Meanwhile, the patients with a same disease condition may react differently to a given treatment modality.

In a healthcare team, if all team member places the patient interest at the priority, the whole team works efficiently. As a team member, every gesture we show and every word we express can make impact to the working relationship. We need to treat our collaborators as friends and colleagues. We must have an objective mind to evaluate the results. I prefer to use simple language, rather than TCM jargon in discussing disease and patient care.

7. COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: WHEN I FIND THE TIME TO BE AWAY FROM MY WORK I ...

When I have spare time, I love to travel, learning more about the planet we live on, and the way people live their lives.


http://www.mountsinai.on.ca/wellbeing/bi- ographies/biographies/adam-chen

http://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=s- jr-patvis-prog-acupun

http://ac99.ca/doctor_chen.html

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