Industry News

Guest Article: Expanding our Definitions of Community Acupuncture

by John Stan | Feb 09, 2010
by Jenna Roze des Ordons and Katrina Ao

We are two students who could have completed our clinical studies at school, but instead we went beyond those doors. We could have done it on our own but instead we did it better with the help of B.C.’s acupuncture community.

In January of 2009 the two of us and a few thousand acupuncture needles traveled to Sri Lanka. Our brief months there have given us a years' worth of experiences to learn from.
Nestled in bustling Colombo on a tiny side street is the Anton Jayasuriya Memorial Clinic. From eight in the morning, the converted white colonial house is open for anyone to walk or wheel in for acupuncture, physiotherapy, or homeopathic treatments. 

Amila, a young Medical Doctor who is also educated in Ayurvedic Medicine and Acupuncture, played conductor to the orchestra of one chief MD, five to ten Sri Lankans and us odd foreigners floating from person to person. This drop-in community clinic couldn’t be any more different from most student clinics. Intake, diagnosis, and treatment all happened as we crouched beside our seated patient. Since we treated about 15 people a day, we learned to do this in no more than fifteen minutes while struggling with communication. 
Our patients suffered from many of the same clinical disorders that we treat in our local clinics: arthritis and joint pain, eczema and psoriasis, hypertension, and digestive issues. People of all ages sought acupuncture for hair loss, paralysis, aphonia, and post-traumatic stress. 
Tamil nor Singhalese are not easy languages to learn, but throw out ‘Eppadi sugam?' or 'Kohomede?' ('How are you?') or ‘Noo hooda?' or 'Ridena wa?' ('Is this painful?') and our anxious patients softened with a smile, hopefully with an assurance that feeling their pulse and meridians communicated well what words could not. 
In an effort to provide cost accessible treatments the clinic was stocked with needles that in North American standards would surely not encourage return visits. Fortunately we brought with us needles donated by acupuncturists in Victoria and matched by Eastern Currents. In a clinical setting that truly tested our competencies and challenged us to be our best, having these instruments was like having that clinical supervisor that knew just when to pull you along and when to push you on your own. 
The Anton Jayasuriya Clinic broadened our experience and abilities in not only acupuncture but relationships and communication, while the needles gave the patients the opportunity to enjoy and relax during the treatments. 
On that note we would like to thank the acupuncturists of Victoria and Eastern Currents for their generous support!

Jenna Roze des Ordons is a student at Pacific Rim College in Victoria, BC. Katrina Ao is now an R.Ac.

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