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New Heights for Acupuncture in New Zealand

Acupuncture in New Zealand, now a postgraduate qualification.
Master of Health Science- Chinese medicine

New Zealand School of Acupuncture (NZSATCM), which began as a small ripple 25 years ago is about to cause a large stir, as it leads tertiary education to new heights in the field of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine in New Zealand.

In March of 2014, NZSATCM gained NZQA accreditation for a Master’s programme. The intensive NZQA vetting process through a panel of experts, NZ and Australian TCM academics, brought together to scrutinize, challenge and apply rigorous standards eventually gave rise to a New Zealand first; a Master’s of Health Science - Chinese Medicine.

Adejola Olatunji, a founding Director of the school, reflected back; “In 1987, when I first arrived in the capital city, there were at most 25 -30 acupuncturists in the whole of NZ. This medicine could only be learnt by going offshore”.

Now there are more than 500 members in the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists, a large percentage of these being graduates from NZSATCM. The medicine has grown in popularity, partially due to ACC recognition and through the growing body of research validating acupuncture. The desire of the general public to take a more holistic approach to managing their health has also played an important part. Paddy McBride, current President of the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists, when speaking at the school’s recent graduation ceremony, commended the new qualification as advancing the profession in this country.

There have been inroads into the public arena for Acupuncture and TCM. In 2012, the profession celebrated when Tim Haiselden became a Member of the NZ Order of Merit, for Services to Acupuncture - the first time an acupuncturist had received such public endorsement.

Another first for the country was gained in April of this year, when the University of Western Sydney conferred Debra Betts with a PhD for acupuncture research studies into recurrent miscarriage.

“Often the western medical approach is to deliver the ‘facts’ and avoid ‘false hope’. TCM practitioners, on the other hand, while acknowledging the serious implications of the presenting symptoms are also able to offer the supportive care of acupuncture, lifestyle and dietary recommendations from an empowering perspective. Interestingly, all the participants in the trial spoke of how much they valued the support they received. What was of statistical significance was that those women receiving acupuncture experienced a reduction in symptoms related to threatened miscarriage - including bleeding, cramping, back pain, and emotional distress.”

Betts, NZ born and Wellington based, established an obstetrics acupuncture clinic at Hutt hospital 5 years ago. She has trained midwives in the specifics of acupuncture in pregnancy and is a sought after lecturer around the globe.

Betts and Leonie Walker PhD, a respected nursing workforce researcher based at the NZ Nurses Organisation, and professor with the Postgraduate School of Nursing and Midwifery at Victoria will co-lead the new Master of Health Science at the New Zealand School of Acupuncture and TCM. These are exciting time for acupuncture development here in New Zealand as well as globally.

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