For most of us, our encounters with traditional Chinese medicine are limited to herbal soups and an occasional cooling liang teh bought to ease a bad throat. A few of us have bravely gone on to down bitter medicine and acupuncture (which really isn’t as bad as it seems).
And then there’s a special group that goes on one step further, to actively pursue the art of TCM. If that’s you, you’re not alone: in 2017, the Straits Times reported about how the number of TCM physicians under 40 increased by 72% since 2010. TCM has also been steadily gaining global recognition, with college and degrees in the field being offered in places like the UK.
For those of you wanting to learn more, we’ve assembled a course list* you can peruse:
**Fees are accurate as of Feb 2019. All fees are in SGD unless otherwise specified. Due to the nature of the subject, almost all courses will be taught in Mandarin Chinese.
1) Double Degree B.Sc. (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences & B.Medicine (Chinese Medicine) – Nanyang Technological University
This particular double degree, which was launched in 2005, is a particularly interesting one: it is the first—and as of now the only of its kind—to impart to its students both Western and Eastern medical concepts for a more well-rounded perspective. The programme, taught bilingually, will see students study for a B.Sc. in Biomedical Sciences in NTU for the first 3 years, before heading to the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine for the next 2 years to read a Bachelor of Medicine (Major in Chinese Medicine).
Duration: 5 years (full time)
Curriculum: Study Biomedical Science modules such as Molecular and Cell Biology Techniques, Organic Chemistry as well as Principles of Genetics, TCM in areas like dermatology and ophthalmology, and General Education modules
Course Fees: $8,200 per academic year for Singaporean students, S$11,500 for Permanent Residents, S$17,550 for international students (2018/2019 fees)
2) Bachelor Degree Course in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Chinese) – Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine has been around for longer than you might imagine! Established in 1953 as the Singapore Chinese Physician Training School and renamed in 1976, it was the brainchild of the Singapore Chinese Physicians’ Association. To date, it has seen over 3,000 individuals graduate from their school, from courses ranging from certificate all the way to doctorate level. Do note that the course will be taught in Chinese and includes compulsory clinical practice at the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine.
Duration: 5 years (full time)
Curriculum: Read modules such as Tui Na, Pathology, TCM for Orthopaedics/Geriatrics/Paediatrics as well as History of TCM studies.
Course Fees: $57,163.68 for Singaporeans, $59,320.80 for Permanent Residents, $70,106.40 for international students. This fee excludes misc. expenses and administrative fees.
Accreditation: The Singapore College of Traditional Medicine is EduTrust Certified and ISO 9001:2005 certified. Its courses have also received accreditation from the TCM Practitioners Board.
1) Advanced Diploma in Traditional Chinese Medicine – Institute of Chinese Medical Studies Pte Ltd
Duration: 7 years part-time, with classes held every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The next run will begin in July 2019.
Curriculum: Take classes teaching both Western and Chinese theories and concepts. Modules teach topics such as prescriptions, acupuncture, TCM for ENT (Ears, Nose, Throat), as well as Microbiology. There will be 1900 clinical hours in total. The course will be taught in Chinese.
Course Fees: $ 40,320.00 (excluding misc. and registration fees)
Accreditation: The school’s courses have been accredited by the TCM Practitioners Board.
1) Introductory Course in Traditional Chinese Medicine – Confucius Institute, Nanyang Technological University
Located at NTU’s One-North Campus, the Confucius Institute was jointly established in 2005 by NTU and the Office of Chinese Language Council International (China) with the aim of strengthening Singapore’s Mandarin capabilities. The Institute conducts executive training programmes, seminars and conferences, language programmes, diploma programmes, as well as programmes for students ages 5-16. One such programme is this course in TCM, taught by experienced consultant physicians working in NTU’s Chinese Medicine Clinic.
Duration: 2 months (the next run is from March-May 2019). Classes will be held weekly (9.30am-12pm).
Curriculum: A different topic is taught every week. Topics include an introduction on Chinese Medicine, How Chinese Medicine is used to control Diabetes, How Chinese Medicine deals with Stress, and so on. Classes will be taught in Chinese and participants who complete at least 75% of the course will be awarded a Certificate.
Course Fees: $64.20 per class/session, $532.86 for all 10. Early bird discount is available for those that register before 22 Feb. There will also be subsidies for those above 50. The course is also SkillsFuture credit claimable.
Accreditation: The Institute has received accreditation from the College of Education Shandong University (China). It is also an Approved Training Organisation for WSQ Chinese Workplace Literacy courses.
2) Certificate in TCM Intermediate – TCM and Healthcare College
The TCM and Healthcare College was established in 2008, with the intention of increasing public awareness of TCM as well as promoting the use of TCM in maintaining one’s health. The College, offering patented courses, is also a ITEC-awarded Centre. Do note that, like almost all the courses on the list, the medium of instruction will be Mandarin. A certificate will be awarded to students who have undergone at least 75% of the course (aka attendance).
Duration: 12 months part-time, 3 months full-time (weekly on Saturdays)
Curriculum: Read modules teaching basic Tuina, TCM Internal Medicine, and TCM Meridian Studies.
Course Fees: $3730.00
Accreditation: The TCM and Healthcare College is Edutrust certified. Do take note, however, that this course is targeted towards the general public and is not accredited by the TCM Practitioner Board.
Today, TCM can be seen complementing Western medicine in public hospitals as part of a multidisciplinary approach—four of Singapore’s public hospitals have an acupuncture department—and we think that the future for TCM practitioners will be an interesting one. To all those going down this path, we wish you the best of luck!