500 of North Vancouver’s grade 9-12 students and their families registered in advance for their chance to meet with over 40 presenters representing various career sectors and professions, as well as opportunity to talk to representatives from several post-secondary institutions.
In the “Health” sector where we were located, we shared space with RCMP, registered nurses, medical doctors, kinesiologists, the profession of neuroscience, and the Canadian military to name a few. It was a diverse room, and it struck me as to how far the TCM profession had come. We had been placed at the centre of the room, and at times felt as if all eyes were on us. As some of the more curious presenters came over to chat, ask questions and/or check out some of the information we had displayed, it quickly became clear to me how important this event truly was. This was our opportunity to highlight the TCM profession not only to the students and families in attendance, but to the members of the health field present as well. We had been offered the chance to demonstrate that TCM was no longer on the “fringe”; that we were a mainstream medicine and that being in the same room together proved we could all ‘play’ in the same proverbial sandbox. It was also obvious to me during these interactions, that we were being measured. How articulate we were in answering questions and how well we presented ourselves would matter in how these individuals would take our message back to the members of their profession. It was an exciting and somewhat intimidating revelation all at once.
Once the students started streaming in however, we got busy talking TCM. One student in particular spent an extended amount of time at our table. She had been interested in Naturopathy, especially the TCM component of study. She talked to Shanie and myself for a long time about how the two practices were different and what TCM could offer. She wanted to know what books she could read, how the education/training process worked, and if she could shadow a practitioner to get a feel for the medicine. After arming her with all of the information we could, she carried on to visit the other tables and I’m assuming, the other rooms at the school. At the end of the evening, she returned to us to announce that she had made a decision. She wanted to study TCM. Her mother then relayed to us stories of how from a very young age, her daughter would mash up various herbs and flowers to make patches and poultices for her younger sister (with various allergic reactions ensuing), and that we had made “quite the impression” on her. We of course, were elated.
Although this was for us, the most profound interaction of the evening, the overall response from all of the parents and students we spoke to was very positive. Many of the parents had experienced or had knowledge of, some form of TCM treatment (acupuncture, cupping etc.) and the students were interested, asked good questions and wanted to learn more. The message we took from this was that TCM, as a profession was definitely becoming a point of interest on the career map.
Of course, it’s events like these that offer the most opportunity to showcase what it is that we do, but it’s important for all of us to remember that we are each the face of this medicine, and how we conduct and present ourselves in our day to day life both in, and out of the clinic, directly reflects and influences how people view the medicine we practice. I encourage everyone to get involved in his or her community to engage the public about TCM. Offer talks, write articles, or participate in community event days, because in the end, it’s really in the best interest for all of us.
– Dr. Kim Graham, Dr.TCM