My Experience on the TCMzone Training & Study Program in China, May 2019 -Bruce Gustafson, LAc., DAOM Fellow, Associate Dean Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine

I had been looking for a few years for the right time in my busy professional life to have the opportunity to travel and study TCM in China. With my eye on the TCMzone sponsored tour and their Clinic+Bruce_headshotprevious successes, I signed up for the May 2019 tour and study. It turned out to become the greatest study and travel experience I’ve had, and far exceeded my expectations.

After a direct flight to Beijing and checking in to our comfortable, modern 4-star hotel, we took advantage of an extra day before the formal tour started. Nearby was the Chinese Ethnic Cultural Heritage Park, with acres and acres of beautiful grounds, lakes and waterways, showcasing domestic buildings, art and cultural heritage of various ethnicities, all part of China’s history. It was a wonderful way to acclimate and enjoy strolling through the beautiful grounds.

Next day, our TCMzone tour began with a day full of sightseeing in and around Beijing. Our group met our Beijing based tour guide and interpreter, Selina, and off we went in our van outside the city, to climb and walk along the Great Wall, a sure bucket list experience not to be missed. I do wish we could have stayed a bit longer there, yet our busy day still included visits to the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City, to experience these great icons of Chinese cultural history.

On our last day in Beijing, we toured the Summer Palace, with its inspiring grounds, lakes and temples; after a group lunch, we were off to the train station for our bullet train journey to Shanghai, where the TCM training program would begin.

For the next two weeks of our program, our group was immersed in morning clinical rounds within different modules at Longhua Hospital, and then on to inspiring afternoon educational lectures at the Shanghai TCM University campus nearby. Our guides and interpreters for the two weeks in Shanghai, Curry and Kai were simply exceptional, both going way above and beyond expectations to make sure we were oriented, supported and well taken care of, and they were always available!

The hotel accommodations were 4-star wonderful, and an easy 10-minute walk to both the hospital and campus, through a lovely area of tree-lined streets, shops, restaurants, convenience stores, an herbal pharmacy, and just steps from a Metro station. This was a perfect location for access to our training locations and to all of Shanghai, as our group often made excursions outside of our studies, in the afternoons, evenings and day off.

In our daily small group rounds at Longhua Hospital, we had direct observation and interaction with physician/patient care, diagnosis and treatment recommendations in busy integrative settings, often seeing between 14-20 patients in a morning rounds session. There was opportunity to ask questions of the patients, or the treating physician, either directly or via our interpreters, if needed. We rotated daily among modules which included the Pulmonary, GI, Cardiology, Orthopedic/Traumatology, Oncology, Gynecology, Endocrine and Acupuncture departments. As a result of these observation days, I’ve gained some refreshing perspectives on treatment modalities, including some new acupuncture protocols to utilize in my own practice.

It was inspiring to actually experience TCM and Western based medicine approaches used together in an integrative way in an outpatient and inpatient hospital setting; to see how Chinese herbs were prescribed in clinical settings, both similarly and differently than we do in the US; and to see how the different departments and physicians would cross-refer, based on patient needs or wishes.

Shanghai TCM University is also keen on growing the acceptance of our medicine through research and evidence-based studies, so many of our afternoon educational lectures were also presentations on clinical TCM conditions that included contemporary research on various treatment modalities. Our group also had a 2-afternoon Powerpoint presentation and lecture on the 8-Extraordinary Vessels, which was the clearest and most accessible coverage on the topic I’ve experienced.

One of the nicest aspects of this trip was the balance of “work and play time.” With most afternoons and evenings free, our group would explore Shanghai, the old and modern sections, great restaurants, a high-end tea shop tasting in Old Shanghai, the Yu Gardens, the Pearl and Shanghai Towers, etc.

As part of the entire experience, TCMzone provided a guided day trip to Suzhou city where we toured an actual silk factory, the serene and gorgeous Master of Nets Gardens, and a gondola-type boat ride through the canals of Old Suzhou. This was one of our group’s favorite days off!

After the weeks of my satisfying and successful training experiences, on our last day we had a graduation ceremony at the Pudong campus of Shanghai TCM International University, toured their gorgeous and incredible museum filled with ancient Chinese artifacts, manuscripts, and exhibits on many of the leading Chinese physicians and thinkers throughout the long history of our medicine. Topping all of this off, we finished with a private tour of the herbal manufacturing facility TCM Zone herbs originate from. Here, we witnessed the thorough, detailed and scientific processes that are used to make sure these powdered extracts are the best possible we can offer to our patients.

This entire tour and training, sponsored by TCM Zone, was thoughtful, full of rewarding experiences and very well organized. I come away having had a deeply satisfying time and a wonderful travel/educational experience. I am intending to make use of another TCM Zone tour in the future, and I do not hesitate to recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in  advancing one’s knowledge and having an experience of Chinese culture and some of our TCM heritage.