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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Raising the Standards

I recall an old Charlie Brown cartoon where our favorite protagonist asks what the meaning of life or something to that effect.  I also recall best friend Linus commenting that life for them is all about getting good grades.  In grammar school, we try to get good grades to pass and get to junior high.  There, we try to get good grades to pass and move on to high school.  The process goes on to college, to graduate school, and professional licensures.

Why is this important?  This is essential because standards must be developed, kept up with, and enforced.  The sad situation in the Philippines is that acupuncture knowledge standards are such that seemingly anyone with a few day’s worth of “training” can call themselves “acupuncturists”.  I am happy that the pertinent authorities are seriously considering administering licensure exams to ensure that those who bear the name “acupuncturist” are qualified.  I myself wish that there be no grandfather clause and that EVERYONE be required to show adequate competency.  This is what Australia did, by the way – require everyone to demonstrate competency with no grandfather clause to “let the longstanding practitioners through”.  Sure someone may have been hoodwinking patients as to their capabilities for years but they must still be weeded out through proper examinations.

The lack of high standards or lack of their enforcement does the profession irreparable harm.  Two weeks ago I treated a patient who was very happy with the results.  I heard that the patient then wanted to bring a friend whom she thought would benefit greatly from Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Unfortunately the aforementioned friend had already tried “acupuncture” from another clinic and was so disappointed with the results that she refused to even consider trying acupuncture from another practitioner.

If the profession has adequate standards, we would then be able to evaluate what went wrong.  Was the practitioner’s training inadequate?  Were the poor results acceptable in the sense that most practitioners would have achieved the same result?

Another story:

I was giving a lecture on “advanced” acupuncture to an audience of presumably adequately trained acupuncturists.  I was asked a question on why I would sometimes pair SP3 Taibai and LU9 Taiyuan.  I answered that SP 3 is the Yuan-Source point of the Spleen Channel and that LU9 is the Yuan-Source point of the Lung Channel.  I then added that since the Spleen Channel is Foot Taiyin it can be paired with the Lung Channel, which is Hand Taiyin.  At this point I realized that I was being met with blank stares.

“Uh guys, you do know what hand and foot taiyin are right?”

Apparently not.

Let’s put this into perspective, it’s like asking M.D.s what side of the chest the heart is in. 

And they didn’t know it, nor had they even HEARD of it.

And these people are qualified to see patients? When they have not even heard of some of the more fundamental principles and theories behind it?

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