Singapore turns out new generation of Chinese physicians

When she was growing up, Chua Huiling always wondered why her grandmother's doctor used no stethoscope but just a pair of chopsticks commonly found in any Chinese Singaporean household.

Huiling had no idea what kind of treatment he administered but it was obviously effective because her grandmother always recovered from her ailments after seeing the physician.

The 24-year-old finally has her answers after completing a five-year double degree programme in biomedical sciences and Chinese medicine, including two years of intensive training in Beijing.

"In the past, I was wondering why he poked her here and there," Chua told AFP in an interview at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which offers the unique bilingual programme.

"Now I understand," said Chua, part of the pioneer batch of 59 students who recently completed the course, which is conducted in English and Mandarin.

"He was actually pressing her acupoints," she added, referring to key parts of the body believed to control various functions such as heartbeats.

The NTU describes the programme as an innovative "East Meets West" scheme through which students get to learn 21st century biomedical sciences and the ancient healing techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

At the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, the students spend the final two years of the programme undergoing clinical training, learning advanced TCM principles and serving out hospital internships.

They discover the secrets of medicinal herbs along with acupuncture and tui-na, a form of massage therapy.

They are also trained to diagnose a patient's ailments through pulse reading and are taught how to prescribe the correct dosage of herbal medication.

The double-degree programme is the brainchild of James Tam, a Hong Kong-born US national who sees the course as one way of bringing the best out of Western science and TCM to treat modern ailments.

"There is really no (other) formal programme at the university level and we believe this is the first one that is bilingual," Tam, the founding dean of NTU's school of biological sciences, told AFP in an interview.

"The history of modern medicine is pretty short but traditional Chinese medicine has been in use for more than a couple thousand years."

Eu Yan Sang International, a major TCM retail chain in the region, started giving out up to three scholarships to selected students in 2008.

Each scholarship is worth 42,100 Singapore dollars (31,505 US), which is used to support the student's final two years of study in Beijing.

The Singapore-based company, which has over 150 stores across Asia selling Chinese medicine and herbs, sees the scholarships as a way of producing the next generation of TCM physicians.

"They are the next generation and they will also be able to relate to the next generation of patients," said Caryn Peh, vice president for care delivery with Eu Yan Sang International.

Upon graduation, the scholars are required to spend three years with the company, where they will get first-hand experience working at clinics with guidance from experienced TCM physicians.

In parts of Asia with a large ethnic Chinese community, the popularity of TCM has remained strong despite the easy availability of Western medicine and Western-trained doctors.

Ong Yi Ting, also a student from the pioneer batch, confessed she was a sceptic about TCM but she now shuns painkillers to ease her migraines, applying acupuncture on herself instead.

"In TCM, the concept of balance is very important," she said.

"That's why TCM is mythical to most people, it's very hard for people to understand its concepts," she said.

"I believe TCM can be applied more widely and it can be a good solution for a lot of chronic illnesses we face today."

News
i100
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Sport
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor

    £45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

    IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

    Qualified Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

    Qualified Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

    Day In a Page

    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
    On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

    On the road to nowhere

    A Routemaster trip to remember
    Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

    Hotel India

    Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
    10 best pencil cases

    Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

    Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
    Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

    Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

    Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
    Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

    Pete Jenson: A Different League

    Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
    This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

    The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

    Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis