Written by Giam Zhen Gan, Class of 2015
9th Apr 2017
First speaker: Mr Wee Keng Koon (TCM physician, graduated from Zhonghua TCM College in 2009)
The first speaker shared with us about his experiences on how he tried to understand more about the TCM industry over the years after graduation. He related to us a short history of TCM development in Singapore and the different TCM associations that are now currently registered under law.
The knowledge he shared was valuable to me since it is something that we did not learn in school. In NTU, our main priorities are to study hard, perform well and pass our STRE examinations. We had multiple internships at our NTU clinic, Thongchai and Zhonghua in Singapore; and that was my main scope of view of the industry before a small career talk before graduation. I barely had much understanding of the TCM industry in Singapore – the development, the hot topics, the experienced and the famous. Even after working, it was still difficult to grasp a bit more about the industry since everyone is busy with work and honing individual skills. Despite having some information here and there via internet and social media, it was still difficult to grasp the whole gist of the development.
However, after changing to a new clinic with more academic background a few months ago, interacting with more TCM physicians and Mr Wee’s sharing, it got slightly easier for me to know this world a bit more. I can now try to seek for information more pertaining to my needs. I believe we can have more talks from our experienced seniors about this industry in the near future.
Second speaker: Mr Khor Tze Hsin (TCM physician, NTU BMS senior, graduated in 2012, currently working at ThongChai)
The second speaker shared about his own experience in treating Diabetes Mellitus (DM). His talk started off with some basic knowledge about DM – the important information that was pounded in brains in school, a great way to help us refresh our memory. After which, he started sharing more about how he treats DM at work – the sharing was concise and straight up to the point, with the formulas he likes to use for specific groups of symptoms.
After which, he placed a big emphasis on the nutritional values and attributes (warm/cold) of the food that people commonly eat. Two big key points that we might usually missed – we focus so much on the nutritional values and the glycemic index (GI) of the food, we tend to miss out the attribute and glycemic load (GL) of the food. Some food can have a lot of vitamins/ minerals and low in calories, but they are unsuitable for long term or frequent consumption since they are over-cooling and can hurt our spleen and stomach (digestive system). While some food may have similar GI, but different GL – the example he compared was watermelon and soda biscuit, both have a similar GI but watermelon has a much lower GL. This means that DM patients can take 100g of watermelon since the sugar raised would be lower than 100g of biscuit.
This sharing served as a concise recap lesson and a great introduction to some knowledge that we touch superficially in class.
Third Speaker: Huang YouYi (Doctor, NTU BMS senior, graduates from Duke NUS)
The third speaker shared about how the Western doctors in Singapore viewed TCM physicians and what are their worries about people taking TCM medication and accepting TCM treatments. He joked about being a spy for us (TCM physicians) in the world of Western Medicine – when he would help us collect data about the views of doctors about us and try to clarify any misunderstanding about TCM.
However, for sure, the misunderstandings about TCM by many doctors are very real in Singapore. Due to the lack of understanding about our herbs and the lack of high quality scientific research papers in English backing up TCM, many doctors found it difficult to understand us. To them, TCM is mystified as something related to Kong Fu masters; the effects of herbs are related to steroidal effects and many adverse drug reactions; TCM is not regulated… and the list goes on.
TCM physicians would have found these accusations preposterous but little could be done for now since interactions between TCM physicians and doctors are still minimal. I am very grateful that our seniors (the BMS – Duke NUS students/ graduates and the researchers) are already doing their best in clarifying the doubts about TCM via lessons and producing qualitied research papers. I believe more could be done by us – the NTU BMS students, since most of us are “efficiently” bilingual and we can communicate with the doctors due to our biomedical background.
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