What constitutes a thriving profession : Chinese medicine’s future

I’m positively buried in a ton of unbelievably exciting business work, all of which will be coming out in a series of posts sometime in the not-too-distant future. When I’m not working on that stuff, I’m hiding from the brutal heatwave that is currently crouching over my fair city, Portland. However, I’ve found some time to engage in a rather lively conversation in the comments on my recent post about a post on another blog concerning the Lingshu and the superior physician. This discussion, and a conversation I’ve been in with a close friend for the last year, has me thinking about the future of Chinese medicine.

It should be noted that, as an American, I’m almost certainly talking about the American profession of Chinese medicine – as different places have their own eccentricities to reckon with. But, some of what I think about may have relevance – particularly in other Westernized countries.

I’m new to this profession. Very new! Folks like Bob Flaws, Heiner Fruehauf, Dan Bensky, Leon Hammer and other long-time practitioners surely have a more seasoned perspective on the whole matter. I’m sure they have seen trends come and go, have seen government become more and less interested, seen the tide of popularity spike and settle down. I crave that perspective. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with my own for now.

Below, find my Chinese medicine profession wish list. These are the things I would like to see grow and thrive in our profession in the next 10 years. You’ll notice that much of it evades ever being “done” at all, being more process oriented than outcome oriented. But, I’d like to see significant progress made on these fronts in the next decade.

  1. More intelligent, intentional dialogue : There are already good conversations going on here at Chinese Medicine Central, as well as at blogs, conferences, schools and other places all over the country (and the world). However, I would like to see even more overt, intentional, respectful conversation going on between people who respect one another’s opinions and are open-minded enough to have their opinions changed. This can happen electronically, in person, on the phone, by Skype, on blogs, through Twitter, in journals and magazines – any method is fine, so long as ideas are being exchanged and the general level of understanding is being elevated.
  2. More publications : Here, I’m thinking specifically about magazines and journals. I would love to see more topical, peer-reviewed Chinese medicine journals. While research briefs are interesting, if you’re into that, I’d like to see a wider range of articles being published. I think the Lantern is a good example of something I’d like to see done more often. I would also love to see more blogs, more magazine-style websites and even zines or other DIY publications done by students, practitioners, patients and groups who are passionate about Chinese medicine.
  3. More residencies : Why don’t I just say, “Any residencies.” Some folks want post-graduate education in a residency style. While people are capable of forging their own post-graduate relationships and creating residency-like positions, I really think a more organized, institutionally supported program would be helpful for students. In showing new students that we are serious about fostering their clinical success, we will improve the quality of applicants and build the profession for the future.
  4. More research into the Classics : I would love to see little institutes springing up all over the country that pay visiting scholars to give talks and do research into Classical topics. I might start one of my own someday. 😉
  5. More business and personal cultivation taught in the schools : I’m surprised how many graduates leave Chinese medicine school not knowing how to care for themselves, personally or professionally. It’s not just us, many graduates of many types of programs feel the same way. Why is it so hard to teach practical skills? Who is doing this better than us, and how can we emulate them?
  6. Board exams that make sense : I mean, seriously.
  7. More easily available information on herbal quality and availability : Many people have no idea where they can get good quality Chinese herbs. I was just informed of a company I have never heard of that seems to have incredible product – and I’ve been doing research for almost two years! What of those who don’t know how to get started on such a research project? They may just end up using whatever the school clinic uses, for better or worse. This isn’t good for our profession and certainly isn’t good for smaller herb companies without the funding to advertise in Acupuncture Today or similar publications. It would be a great boon if the schools would teach a class about evaluating herbal quality. I suppose that might not be popular with all the herb companies…
  8. More control over our destiny, particularly regarding herbal access : For me, this may actually be #1. I shouldn’t have to hunt so long and so hard to find Xi Xin and Ma Huang. These herbs are not dangerous in the hands of trained and licensed Chinese herbalists. I’m not going to go on and on about this point right now, but I think this should be the number one priority of the AAAOM. I know they are working on it, I’d like to see their efforts triple. Of course, that’s going to mean tripling my donation. 🙂

What would be on your Chinese medicine profession wish list? Let us know in the comments. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts – whether experienced and informed or brash and absurd. All kinds are welcome here at Chinese Medicine Central. 🙂

About Eric Grey

Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.

View all posts by Eric Grey - Website: http://chinesemedicinecentral.com