Kwantlen's Richmond campus to host Traditional Chinese Medicine school

Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk rolls up his sleeve at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk rolls up his sleeve at Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Richmond campus Friday morning for an acupuncture demonstration performed by Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine Weidong Yu.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Richmond campus will host B.C.'s first Traditional Chinese Medicine program at a public institution, Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk announced Friday morning.

"We want to provide British Columbians with the widest of choices in preventative health care, and TCM is certainly part of preventative health care," Virk told reporters at the Lansdowne Road campus.

The school's clinic and classrooms will be located in the east wing of the campus—now home to the fashion program, which is moving to a new building on the campus in 2015.

Gordon Lee, vice-president of finance and administration at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, said the school will start small, with around 20 students, and grow from there.

An opening date has not yet been set. That, along with curriculum information, tuition fees and other details will be left in the hands of a program advisory committee, to be formed later this year.

"We are working to roll it out as soon as it's ready, and as soon as the advisory committee gives us the advice that it needs to give us, and that we can hire faculty, find space and so on," said Lee.

The province says the school will complement the six private schools already operating in B.C. that are accredited by the Private Career Training Institutions Agency and recognized by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine of B.C.

Kwantlen will share information and resources with Traditional Chinese Medicine experts in Beijing including opportunities for teachers and students to visit the Chinese capital to gain experience at clinics there.

The Minister, who served as a patient for an acupuncture demonstration at Friday's announcement, said he's a believer in Traditional Chinese Medicine despite most patient costs not covered under the Medical Services Plan.

"I don't believe that that's going to be an impediment to the use of TCM, because so many individuals already use it, and so many individuals have the [extended health] plans to cover it."

The B.C. government designated Traditional Chinese Medicine as a health profession in 2000. The practice has a history dating as far back as 3,000 years. Practitioners focus on health promotion, illness prevention and treatment through natural remedies that include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and massage.

The B.C. government's 2013 throne speech promised to partner with a post-secondary institution to develop a centre of learning for the historic health profession.

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