It's difficult to explain why a traditionally medically trained doctor would train in the unconventional. I've never been truly very conventional is one explanation and also I've always been inquisitive and open minded into the 'unknown'.
A quizzical look, a raised eyebrow and "why?" often met me when I told medical colleagues I was trained in Western Medical Acupuncture. Yet a surprising amount of the conventional and traditional have tried acupuncture and found benefit, so maybe there is something to it and a reason to add it to your bow as a medical doctor?
My journey to training as a Medical Acupuncturist
I think I was a third year medical student when I had my first taste of acupuncture. Stressed out by end of year exams looming, anxious that I wasn't getting enough done and finding it difficult to relax, I booked into a high street Chinese acupuncturist.
I was ushered into the back room, had my tongue examined and my pulse read. Then despite having many needles inserted around my body producing the odd twingey feeling of De Qi, I relaxed. I felt lifted, almost euphoric and able to focus. I had a further 4 sessions - There must be something in this, I thought.
It wasn't until around 6 years later, in my first year of paediatric speciality training, that I read in the British Medical Journal about training that was offered to medical professionals in medical acupuncture from The British Medical Acupuncture Society. At this point in my life, after three years as a doctor, I was looking for something more in medicine - A way of helping patients more holistically. Having the previous very positive experience in acupuncture myself, I was very interested in the evidence base for using it along side traditional western medicine and found it intriguing.
Medical acupuncture never claimed to be a 'cure all' and was a very honest approach to complimentary medicine, using it alongside current traditional medicine with very low risk. There was no claims about mysterious herbal concoctions, only using acupuncture, guided by the evidence base. There was nothing to lose and I booked onto the course.
I trained on the Foundation course of Western Medical Acupuncture in 2010 alongside GPs, physiotherapists, consultant anaesthetists to name a few, and we all shared a common thought - that there seemed to be something to this acupuncture malarky that would benefit our patients. Whether is was the stimulation of nerves, the release of endorphins...or just that it does work in some cases and we don't know how.
Soon I after I'd completed the training, I was met with a barrage of willing volunteers to be needled... It seemed I was the friend to have! I then set up PureMedic Mobile acupuncture in Kent whilst working a busy tertiary neonatal job and treated people in their homes. It was one of the most fulfilling jobs I ever had. I found I would come home from treating someone more relaxed than them!
Work brought me down to beautiful Sussex and after having two very active little boys, I had to put my acupuncture on hold. I still did additional training days and kept up my skills (surprisingly there are always plenty of people who wish to voluntarily have needles placed in them!).
In August 2017, I proudly opened the doors to my home-based Acupuncture Clinic in Angmering, The Whitfield Clinic. It has been a long dream to get this far and have my own clinic right on (actually inside!) my own doorstep and be able to again use complimentary medicine along side traditional medicine. I still work in the NHS and manage to combine the two, my family and everything else life throws at me, but practising acupuncture still fulfils me exactly the same way as back when I first started, I get to spend time treating my patients (which is not always possible inside NHS constraints) AND I get to continue helping people on their journey to health....I may even be achieving the holy grail of work-life balance here!
If you have any questions about medical acupuncture or would like to get in touch, email Kerry@whitfieldclinic.co.uk