from the College Principal Richard Blackwell
We often hear from our acupuncture graduates about what they are doing now and I have been particularly encouraged this year to hear many stories of success with patients ranging from children to the very elderly, and with a huge variety of conditions including pain, infertility and depression. NCA graduates are running successful acupuncture practices throughout the UK and beyond, loving their working lives, and making a great contribution to people’s health.
Other NCA graduates have travelled abroad to work in developing countries, including a World Medicine project in India and international healthcare assistance in Nepal in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes there. It’s also very pleasing to see our graduates making important contributions to the work of our professional bodies, undertaking ground-breaking research, and providing clear explanations about the strength of the scientific evidence base for acupuncture to the public, the media, and other professionals. The NCA recently collaborated with MSc in Acupuncture graduate Mel Hopper Koppelman on a thorough and detailed exposition of the evidence for acupuncture for low back pain. We have robust evidence that acupuncture is one of the most clinically effective treatments available for low back pain, and is much safer than frequently prescribed medications.
We’ve not been idle here at the College either. Of course, there is all our regular work providing our students with a high quality education, and meeting our many and various regulatory requirements, and we were very pleased with our monitoring visit report from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education this year. In addition to all this we are also always working hard to improve what we do. Examples of improvements this year include our development of a new add-on massage course which builds on the bodywork teaching in the first year to develop the capacity to provide a stand-alone massage treatment. There is already an excellent bodywork training running through the BSc and MSc in Acupuncture courses, which is focussed on giving you a set of hands-on skills to use for diagnosis and treatment as part of an acupuncture treatment. We are now offering an additional course for those who choose to undertake it, which will run over two weekends in the summer between first and second year, and will lead to a massage qualification, making it possible to start a clinical practice offering massage from the beginning of the second year. This massage practice can then become the foundation of a new acupuncture practice once qualified.
We’ve also been doing some development work on the MSc in Acupuncture and one outcome is that more MSc students have been attending research conferences. Another new feature for MSc students is the opportunity during the dissertation phase to connect via online tutorials with students on the MSc in Advanced Oriental Medicine, which gives them the opportunity to link up with practitioners from around the world.
I think our wide-ranging BSc and MSc courses in acupuncture are an excellent preparation for successful practice, with their diverse perspectives and combination of skills of head, heart and hands. These features all correspond with the traditional ways of learning Chinese medicine, and are key to enabling the development of truly effective practitioners, just as much in the modern day as in the past. I recently saw our third year students for their final classroom session before they qualify as acupuncturists, and I was reminded again of what a journey of learning and discovery they have been on, and will continue with for the rest of their lives.