Poking Around the Free Acupuncture Clinic at KPU Richmond

What I learned by attending an acupuncture session for and by KPU students

This is an acupuncture model located at the Public School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Simulation Laboratory: Medicine. (Nic Laube)

On September 9, I was stabbed repeatedly. And it felt great. 

I’m talking about acupuncture, a medical practice that is shrouded in stigma in Western cultures (everyone cringes when they hear the word “needle”), but is actually an effective means of treatment that’s offered for free here at KPU. What normally costs $100 or more is currently being offered as a learning experience for KPU students, by KPU students.

When I say “learning experience”, I mean that applies for both you and the person sticking needles into your back. In room 3650A of KPU Richmond, fourth year acupuncture students practice their work by offering this service to willing students and teachers.

If the idea of testing it out gives you pins and needles, you can rest assured; these students are perfectly capable. As someone who’s afraid of needles myself, I went in to see how acupuncture works, and possibly to undergo the procedure.

I decided to keep an open mind and my expectations were exceeded. I was met at the door by three very supportive, thorough students, and had the reassurance of an instructor standing vigilantly by during the consultation. It’s important to note that nobody has to go through the treatment just because they attend a consultation.

I soon found that all my fears had melted away, and decided to try acupuncture for the first time. When the time came for me to go under the needle, honestly, it hurt less than a mosquito bite.

I hardly noticed any pain at all. In fact, the only thing I really felt was this soothing warmth that spread throughout my entire back. Under their supervision, I relaxed so much that I actually fell asleep for a few minutes!

I had assumed that any student performing this would be clumsy and afraid of hurting me, but I was wrong. A soon-to-be graduate of the program, Imene Belhacene, reassured me of this fact.

“My first day in the clinic, I was good to go. We all take turns …. We do this as a group,” she says. “We alternate, so we get to learn from [everybody].”

She adds that her classmates are equally confident that the possibility of error is minimal, and the risk of failure is practically non-existent. 

This learning environment is boast-worthy part of the program, which can be tricky to get into. According to Analita Nand, Administrative Assistant for the health department at KPU, the requirements “are pretty up there” and quite varied.

So while it wouldn’t be easy, (if it were, I would have been a lot less trusting with the students that practiced on me) both Imene and Analita echo the sentiment that acupuncture is an incredibly useful and fulfilling career path for anyone who wants to become a healer.

“If you want to learn about acupuncture, I would say three of our courses, 1100, 1110, and 1160, are open to all KPU students. Fundamentals 1100 [is recommended],” says Analita.

If you have any interest at all in learning or undergoing TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), reach out to Nand with your questions. Acupuncture isn’t as terrifying as it sounds once you get past that initial prick. And as a free service offered by KPU, you may as well take advantage of it while you have the chance.