Traditional Chinese Medicine students lose opportunity to take Canadian registration exams in Chinese

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Starting in the fall, students of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture in Canada will no longer be able to take their national registration exams in Chinese.

The move sparked confusion and outrage among current and potential students hoping to study here, in part because British Columbia is the only province to have allowed language adaptation. And some practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine fear that offering the exam only in English will lead to the elimination of Chinese lessons and weaken the development of this medicine in Canada.

“It’s like you’re studying Shakespeare [literature], it is best to learn it in English. The same theory applies to studying TCM in Chinese, ”said Qiu Yunbin, who enrolled at Vancouver Beijing College of Chinese Medicine in September. Its course lasts at least two years for acupuncture students and another year for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) program certification.

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He said he and dozens of his classmates found the decision “completely unacceptable”. They signed a letter to the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA).

Mr Qiu said that if the cancellation of Chinese exams in British Columbia is final, some of his peers may leave the program and he will consider transferring his studies to California, where tests in Chinese are available, or returning. in China.

Part of what has upset TCM practitioners and students in BC is the way the change was communicated, without prior consultation. It was included in an updated Candidate’s Manual for the Pan-Canadian Entry Level Exam on December 9, 2020. The update states that the Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese versions of the exams will end after October 2021. After that point, the exams will be available in English. In Quebec and Ontario, they can be offered in French on request and with sufficient notice. The option for Chinese versions was only available in British Columbia

Dan Garcia, executive director of the Canadian Alliance of Regulators for Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists (CARB-TCMP), said the change was not taken lightly. It was posted on the organization’s website on January 12 with an explanation that it aimed to ensure that the national exam treats all applicants fairly.

“In deciding on the availability of pan-Canadian exams, we must also take into account that the licensing regimes of Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Quebec do not allow candidates to pass exams in Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese, ”the notice said. .

He further states that the process of offering accreditation exams in other languages ​​is “lengthy, resource-intensive and costly” and that passing this cost on to applicants could create a financial burden for them.

But some members of the The TCM community in British Columbia said the move could hamper TCM research and development in Canada, as the Chinese language and culture is the root cause of TCM.

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“If everything will be in English, then the genuine TCM will go off. The quality and development of this profession will be affected, ”said Dr. John Yang, president of the Federation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Colleges of Canada, who also teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in the Vancouver area.

The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Practitioners of British Columbia (ATCMA) recently released a statement, saying its members are “disappointed, confused and upset.”

“From what the ATCMA administration can muster, the decision was made purely on the basis of cost,” the statement said. “No alternative was proposed or discussed before this unilateral decision was taken.”

The association shared a link to an online petition against the cancellation of Chinese exams. Launched two weeks ago, the petition has so far received nearly 1,900 signatures.

Dr Li Wenpei, president of the college that has been providing TCM training in Vancouver since 2003, said he heard the news from a student. He said the policy change was a big blow to all the students planning to take exams in Chinese.

“The students are anxious… they have passed [money] and the weather… Who is going to be responsible for this? he said in an interview.

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Mr. Li said he was not sure about the future of his school, which offered classes mainly in Chinese.

Previously, exams were taken once a year, but now take place twice a year. Mr Garcia said that at the October 2020 session, there were around 450 applicants and around 11% chose the simplified or traditional Chinese forms.

Mary Wu, president of the Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, called BC’s decision “too quick.” She said current students should not be affected and the regulations should not go into effect for three years. But she pointed out that writing tests in English could reflect a candidate’s language skills, which is essential for staff who practice medicine.

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