Studying through a Pandemic: future-proofing our acupuncture careers

Studying through a Pandemic: future-proofing our acupuncture careers

By Melanie Cullis, third year student

In six weeks, the class of 2022 will be graduating from CCA as bona fide acupuncturists. It’s been quite the journey!

In the summer of 2019, I signed up to study Traditional Chinese Medicine. Many aspects of my life had pushed me gently but nonetheless quite persuasively down a new path: motherhood, coming to the end of the road with a career in corporate communications, receiving acupuncture treatments – all had a great impact on me personally.

But little did we know when we started the course almost three years ago that whilst we were studying, we would be faced with a global Pandemic, a war in Europe and a cost-of-living crisis, all at the same time.

Shortly after completing the first term at CCA, and still only just finding our feet, we went into national lockdown. In a matter of days, City College had us fully set up online. Suddenly the classroom-based lectures in Old Street and practical work were abandoned in favour of us working through all the theoretical modules, Chinese Medicine, Western Medicine and Practitioner Development, on Teams. I remember us carrying out morning ‘emotions check-ins’ before starting the day’s syllabus. We could offload what was going on for us at home, which I now credit with one of the reasons I have formed such lifelong friends in our year group.

The world around us changed dramatically, but one thing that remained constant was our studies and I’m rather grateful for that.

At times, admittedly though, getting to the end felt fairly impossible. The demands of keeping up with the weekly lectures, the coursework and the exams where we would lock ourselves away for weeks pushed most of us to our limits, and our families too. I think anyone who has studied this course will agree with how demanding it is, but I think we can all be particularly proud of having achieved it with some level of adversity.

The past year has allowed us to put all of our learning into practice in the student clinic. We never would have predicted the lifeline it would be to so many people! Many of the patients we treat are still deeply affected by the past two years of the Pandemic and we are able to provide them with needed space and physical and mental-emotional support, which has been a complete privilege. It’s also quite possibly the best training we could have imagined, future-proofing our own Acupuncture businesses.  

This summer will involve a lot of well-earned rest before we receive our licentiate in Acupuncture – it will be quite surreal to finally be holding that piece of paper! I look forward to being able to offer the much-needed support to my own patients as the future inevitably unfolds around us.

Melanie will be setting up her business in Surrey later this year.