Chinese Medicine Field Opens to Foreigners

With an increasing number of foreigners interested in traditional Chinese medicine, the Ministry of Health has decided to permit aliens to participate in examinations for a doctor's license in China next year.

According to Shanghai officials, specific regulations for the exams won't be released until April next year, but they said that a test for clinical practice is scheduled for June and a written exam in September.

However, what is clear now is that foreigners will be able to get a certificate from a Chinese medical university and undergo a one-year practice at a hospital affiliated to the university.

Currently, some 400 foreigners are studying traditional Chinese medicine at Shanghai universities. Among them, about 200 are pursuing various academic degrees.

"Since traditional Chinese medicine isn't quite well-known or popular around the world right now, it is difficult to engage in it back in the West," said Roberto Baglio, a 28-year-old Italian undergoing training to hone his skills at Shanghai Ren'ai Hospital.

"Without a license, we also can't practice in China. This move will help students like me, since it will allow foreigners to become licensed doctors here."

Arriving in China in 1995, Baglio has received a bachelor's degree from Shanghai Traditional Medicine University, graduating in June this year.

After serving his intern-ship at the Longhua Hospital for one and a half years, Baglio moved to Ren'ai for practice.

"With a history of thou-sands of years, traditional Chinese medicine has an amazing curative effect on a variety of diseases," he said.

"I love Chinese medicine and want to engage in the business. This decision by the ministry will stand me in good stead when I meet with obstacles, like being accepted by Chinese patients," Baglio added.

Many foreign students before him have quit the field due to an uncertain future in the absence of practicing freedom.

"To be frank, there is no friendly environment for foreign students to take up related jobs in either China or back home.

"Though China welcomes us to study here, certain departments haven't bothered to think about our future occupation and other problems," Baglio said.

He revealed that only six students among the 35 - all foreigners - in his class are engaged in medicine.

Dr. Lin Jianquan, who is guiding Baglio, said that the policy will allow foreigners to get further involved in traditional Chinese medicine.

"This will convince foreigners to accept the concept of Chinese medicine, which still has a magical aura for some," the doctor added.

( November 21, 2001)

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