1. Provide educational programs that cover both the breadth and depth of TCVM.
In recent decades, acupuncture has become increasingly popular in the United States and abroad, and the demand for acupuncture services has risen in human and animal healthcare clinics alike. However, acupuncture is only one branch of the vast and complex field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In China, acupuncture is rarely used alone, and is instead combined with other TCM modalities, such as Herbal Medicine, Tui-na, and other therapies, for maximum effect.
At Chi, we recognize that acupuncture is only a part of the larger Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) picture and we strive to capture the breadth of TCVM modalities with our educational programs. In addition to our Certified Veterinary Acupuncture courses, we also offer a comprehensive Veterinary Herbal Medicine program, a Veterinary Tui-na program and a Veterinary Food Therapy program. Together, these programs cover the four major branches of TCVM.
Moreover, the field of TCVM is not only wide but also deep. Our Advanced TCVM Diagnostics and Acupuncture program is designed to delve deeply into acupuncture techniques and pattern diagnosis, expanding upon what is taught in the Veterinary Acupuncture program. Also, we offer a rigorous Master’s Program through the South China Agricultural University, which includes not only a comprehensive TCVM curriculum, but also the opportunity to contribute directly to the TCVM field through the completion of a Veterinary Acupuncture or Herbal Medicine research thesis.
2. Present TCVM with the right blend of theory and practice.
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine is rooted in a rich theoretical framework dating back thousands of years in ancient Chinese history. The four branches of TCVM - Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Tui-na and Food Therapy - all stem from fundamental TCVM principles, including Yin-Yang, Zang-Fu, Five Element Theory and the Eight Principles. We believe that one cannot divorce TCVM modalities from these theories that inform them. As such, all Chi programs begin with TCVM theoretical principles, which serve as the foundation for the remaining course material. We also recognize that understanding TCVM theory requires a shift in mindset for most Western practitioners. Throughout the course, we strive to ease our students in their transition from a Western to an Eastern perspective. One way that we do this is through Tai-ji and Qi-gong sessions, which we offer during all of our on-site courses. This traditional form of Chinese meditation and exercise is a major branch of Traditional Chinese (human) Medicine, and we hope that practicing this fundamental component of TCM can bring our students closer to a TCVM mindset.
Of course, the true skill of a practitioner does not lie in their grasp of theoretical material, but rather in their ability to produce clinical results. While we believe a solid theoretical foundation is a crucial component of a sound TCVM education, we do not want theoretical material to overshadow practical considerations. As in every aspect of Chinese Medicine, balance is key, and we constantly strive to present our course material with the right balance of theory and practice. Thus, in all Chi courses, clinical applications are heavily emphasized alongside theoretical principles. Lectures include case studies, which give students a better idea of how the course material translates into clinical treatments in the real world. Furthermore, small group wet-labs with intensive hands-on experience with live animals are a feature of every course. In our acupuncture programs, for instance, students learn acupuncture points and practice needling techniques on either horses or dogs, or both, depending on their practice. Similarly, in our Tui-na programs, students practice Tui-na techniques on live animals in this setup. We believe that it is by presenting this proper balance of theory and practice that our students can be well-versed and competent TCVM practitioners.
3. Advance scientific research in TCVM.
TCVM has developed over thousands of years and, like other medical systems, continues to evolve today. Research in TCVM is crucial to this evolution as it validates the efficacy of TCVM treatments and elucidates mechanisms for their action. Furthermore, there are still advances and discoveries to be made in TCVM – both in the modes of treatment used and the application of these treatments to previously untreated species.
The Chi Institute is dedicated to advancing this kind of scientific research in TCVM. To begin with, we host an annual TCVM conference, where TCVM clinicians and research scientists from around the world are invited to share their findings. We are affiliated with the American Association of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (AATCVM), and the American Journal of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (AJTCVM). AJTCVM is an international, peer-reviewed journal that is the first and only English language journal to publish high-quality scientific research in TCVM. Many Chi graduates and instructors are on the AATCVM executive board or serve as editors for AJTCVM.
4. Promote the integration of TCVM with Western veterinary practice.At the Chi Institute, we consider TCVM to be a form of complementary medicine that should accompany rather than replace conventional or “Western” Veterinary Medicine. This belief in integrating Eastern and Western medicine is apparent in our education programs. A veterinary license or anticipated veterinary degree is a requirement for all Chi students (with an exception for those in our vet tech program). Students will find that this requirement is no formality, as Western diagnoses are referenced throughout courses either as a basis or as a source of comparison for TCVM diagnoses. We do not ask our students to abandon their knowledge of conventional, Western practice when they attend Chi classes. Instead, we encourage them to retain this information so that it can be integrated with and strengthened by knowledge of Chinese medicine. We believe that it is by utilizing both frameworks - acknowledging the body’s endocrine, cardiovascular and nervous systems, as well as the body’s set of Meridian/Channel lines, its forces of Qi, Blood, Jing, Shen and Jin-ye - that one arrives at a more complete picture of the whole organism. Ultimately, we hope for our graduates to approach problems from both an Eastern and a Western perspective, practicing with a comprehensive understanding of health and disease and a wide array of treatment options for their patients.
5. Foster and support a global TCVM community.
Though TCVM has its origins in China, it has established a global presence in the past few decades that continues to grow today. As a result, the benefits of TCVM to animals and their human caregivers are broader-reaching than ever before. At Chi, we hope to make TCVM accessible to veterinarians around the world, so that they can bring acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, and similar services to their local communities. Currently, in addition to our headquarters in the US, the Chi Institute also has program bases in Australia, Europe, China and Taiwan. Together, these programs offer TCVM courses in English, Chinese and Spanish. Furthermore, Chi also hosts an annual TCVM conference, which brings together TCVM practitioners and researchers from around the world. Through these international programs and an alumni network that spans six continents, we strive to foster and support a global TCVM community.