On Sept. 8, Kwantlen Polytechnic University opened a new student-run acupuncture clinic at the Richmond campus.
The clinic allows students to gain hands-on experience under the supervision of registered practitioners and doctors of traditional Chinese medicine in the traditional Chinese medicine program, a full-time, limited intake diploma at KPU. With six continuous semesters condensed into two full years, it includes various courses discussing theory, diagnosis, treatment, and clinical approaches.
In an email to The Runner, Dr. John Yang, chair of the traditional Chinese medicine program, wrote that a variety of different practicum courses are delivered in the clinic, including acupuncture.
“After studying TCM theory and acupuncture foundation in the classroom, students will be assigned to the clinic and will use the technique to treat real patients,” he wrote.
Traditional Chinese medicine, in particular, is based on balance, harmony, and energy. It aims to create harmony and a healthy flow of qi (chi) by maintaining its flow.
The process involves hair-thick, fine, and sterile needles being inserted into the skin at pressure points, and these points will vary depending on the condition being treated.
When these pressure points get freed up, it stimulates the natural self-healing process of the body.
“The belief is that qi and the quality of yin and yang runs throughout your body. It is always on the move and constantly changes. When you balance the yin and yang of qi, you feel healthy and well. If they’re out of whack, you feel sick,” said Yang.
The student-run acupuncture clinic is situated on the third floor of the KPU Richmond campus. One session costs $25 and typically lasts for an hour. Depending on the condition, patients can feel the difference after one or two appointments.
“The benefit for patients is that they are able to receive treatment at a price that is significantly less in comparison to other acupuncture clinics while being instructed by our expert faculty, while at the same time helping students reach their educational goals,” Elena Franco, the divisional business manager of the faculty of health, wrote in an email to The Runner.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided additional challenges after the clinic closed in March 2020.
“Our clinic typically operated two days per week pre-COVID. We are now operating six days per week in order to ensure our students can complete these courses,” added Franco.
Virginia Ding, a student and practitioner in the TCM program, says that she is happy with the clinic, especially its availability to the public.
She says the clinic is large enough to accommodate about 10 clients in one of their bigger rooms and is better equipped than other acupuncture clinics she has been to.
“I feel more relieved to practice with our instructors. We can work systematically, learn about the whole process with the patient, and see [our instructors’] friendly attitude with them. You need to sympathize with them and know what they are thinking and feeling.”
She says some patients have suffered pain for years with no significant change in physical examinations, but they report improvement after a couple of sessions of acupuncture.
“Traditional Chinese Medicine is not only a medicine but also a philosophy. It [gives importance] to the relationship between people, psychology in your body, nature, and our environment. Everything has its own rules and balance,“ says Ding.
The clinic is open to KPU students and the general public. An appointment can be booked through their website.