Step into a world of ancient wisdom and modern expertise with our comprehensive 3-year program designed to cultivate your journey toward becoming a skilled Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Herbalist. Over the course of three transformative years, you will immerse yourself in the intricate world of herbal medicine, mastering the art of harnessing nature’s remedies to promote holistic well-being.
In the foundational stages, you will lay the groundwork for your herbalist journey by delving deep into the principles of TCM theory, gaining insight into the energetic qualities of herbs, and learning about their intricate interactions within the body. You will be guided through the meticulous process of crafting herbal formulas, tailored to address a diverse range of health concerns.
As you progress, your expertise will flourish as you specialize in advanced herbal therapies. Guided by experienced TCM Herbalists, you will refine your diagnostic skills and learn to create precise and personalized herbal regimens for patients.
This program has been reviewed and approved by the registrar of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills.
Is a Career as a Traditional Chinese Herbalist Right for You?
Take the Kootenay Columbia College “Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbalist Career Training Readiness Quiz”
This fun, online quiz takes 3 minutes to complete and you’ll get a personalized report. Identify your strengths and social style plus the training and positions you’re best suited for.
* For full tuition breakdown please contact us
The focus of year one will be on the orientation into the paradigm of Chinese medicine. Following the introduction of fundamental theories and concepts the student will gradually be introduced to diagnosis, disease, and treatment principles. The practical training will be focused on Taiji Quan. The study of the Chinese language is used to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamental concepts and to prepare the student for independent research of TCM manuscripts still in their language of origin, as well as preparation for possible further studies in China for those students who choose to do so.
Year one of the program is a particularly significant phase of the program in that, students from diverse backgrounds and with diverse levels of knowledge will establish in themselves not only the actual detailed knowledge of TCM but also a solid conceptualization of medicine as a whole. In general, this involves a transition from the romantic view of TCM to the realism of medicine as a science in its own right. With the study of Western science initiated in tandem with that of TCM, students will begin to foster the integrated medicine approach advocated within the TCM profession today.
The focus of the second year is to introduce the more technical elements of Chinese medicine, including Chinese medicinal substances and Chinese medicinal formulas. Students will continue their study of Counselling Skills and begin their study of Qi Gong (understanding and training qi). In this year, students will be introduced to the classical view of mental and emotional disharmony patterns and their absolute importance to a wide variety of illnesses. The study of business management and ethics will assist students in developing the professional skills and attitudes necessary for independent practice.
If the study of the foundations of TCM in Year 1 is likened to the roots, trunk and main branches of a tree, then study in Year 2 may be likened to the small branches and leaves. Students will assimilate a vast amount of detailed knowledge in the relevant fields of TCM. This knowledge is often experienced as somewhat overwhelming at the time; however, it will serve as the “fuel for the fire” as it is constantly reexamined during the integration phase in the following years of study.
The focus in this final year is to systematically examine all patterns of disharmony and their manifestations as illness. This study encompasses etiology, symptomatology, differential diagnosis, principles of treatment, and appropriate therapy. All therapeutic methods in terms of medicinal formulas, Tui Na massage and Qi Gong will be discussed. This year draws heavily on the previous years’ materials.
Year 3 is the integration phase of the program. Students will re-examine all previously learned knowledge and develop the ability to integrate this knowledge into a coherent understanding of disease and its treatment. At KCCIHS, all students will develop the ability to accurately formulate a TCM differential diagnosis, which we consider to be paramount to all other skills. Effective treatment is the natural progression of an accurate diagnosis.
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There are many traditions of Chinese medicine and different approaches to mastering the art. There’s Japanese acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, the 5 Element school of thought, Oriental Medicine acupuncture, facial or cosmetic acupuncture, medical acupuncture, etc. Do a little research on the kind of acupuncture you wish to learn as they are not all the same.
The Chinese medicine program at KCCIHS re-integrates traditional Chinese medicine as taught in the People’s Republic with a pre-cultural revolution, a 400-year-old family tradition. The courses meet and exceed the minimum requirements for the North American standard of education in the field of Chinese medicine, particularly in the areas of CM classics, history, and self-cultivation. The programs at our school include the acquisition of the Chinese language, which deepens the ability of students to understand and research Chinese medicine in its original worldview.
What kind of Programs can I take?
Do you wish to start a practice and see clients once you are trained? Do you want to add additional tools to other healing work you are already doing? Or, do you want to learn about Chinese medicine for your own health?
There are programs at various acupuncture schools to suit all interests. There are three, four, and five-year programs training Chinese medicine professionals. There are weekend courses for doctors and nurses or physiotherapists who wish to add acupuncture to their existing practice. And there are seminars, workshops, and websites for those people just wanting to learn a bit about acupuncture or Chinese medicine for their own knowledge.
At KCCIHS we offer a three-year acupuncture program, a three-year herbology program, a four-year practitioner of Chinese medicine program (including acupuncture and herbal medicine) as well as a five-year Doctor of traditional Chinese medicine program. See the course descriptions for more information.
What is the language of instruction?
There are Chinese medicine schools all over the world teaching in virtually every language. Being a science of the Orient, many of the ancient writings about acupuncture are in the Mandarin language and Chinese characters.
At KCCIHS, our students are taught in English and also learn Mandarin relevant to Chinese medicine. This language component is taken in the first year of study, and many teacher’s notes and instructions are provided in both languages throughout the course. KCCIHS is one of only a few acupuncture schools in North America to offer this exposure to the Mandarin language and we feel it deepens each student’s understanding of the origins of Chinese medicine.
Who are the teachers?
The instructors at the school you choose to attend will make all the difference. Choose a school that has instructors who have worked in the field, see clients in a clinic setting, and can comment on the practice of acupuncture. Many people may understand Chinese medicine theory but the art and skill that comes from seeing clients daily in a clinical setting cannot be learned from a book. Choose a school that has instructors who are experts in their field and who have real-life experience in the courses they are teaching.
KCCIHS is fortunate to have many high-level instructors, from both Chinese medicine and biomedical backgrounds, including TCM practitioners, chiropractors, counselors, and Qi Gong masters. Each instructor is an expert in their field and most current practice their profession alongside their teaching schedule. Some of our instructors teach in the mornings and then see clients in the busy KCCIHS outpatient clinic in the afternoons, where students are able to observe and learn about subjects discussed in the classroom.
How much does the program cost?
Program costs are variable, depending on your course of interest. Financial information can be found here, and further information can be provided by contacting our registrar directly.
Whats the best way for me to learn?
It’s important to know what kind of learner you are and in what kind of environment you learn the best. Do you prefer to work at home,from books or online? Do you prefer to be in a classroom, guided by an expert teacher and joined by classmates? Do you prefer to go to school at night and on weekends so you can still work during the day?
KCCIHS offers on-site instruction across three campuses with experienced instructors and small class sizes. There are components of your training that can be done online or through self-study but the majority of our programs are delivered in person, on campus, with teachers to answer your questions and classmates to study along with. The nature of learning a healing art like Chinese medicine requires a teacher on hand to guide a student.
At KCCIHS, there are class lectures, classroom clinics, needling labs, and time spent in clinical observation. This experiential and hands-on learning environment sets up our graduates to go into clinical practice with the experience and knowledge to treat clients effectively.
Whats the learning environment like?
Just as it is important to know what kind of learner you are, it is also important to know what kind of learning environment you do best in. Do you prefer small classes, quiet study areas, and green spaces to relax in? Or, do you prefer group learning, music and social interactions, games, and challenges to help you remember information?
The campus offers different environments for study to suit the needs of our students. There is a school library for quiet study, a student lounge for more lively discussions over lunch, spacious classrooms for you to stretch out and make yourself at home in, a school bookstore and herbal dispensary for on-campus purchases, and a plethora of restaurants, healthy food options and quaint coffee shops nearby for refueling.
Our classes are small, allowing you complete access to your instructors with your concerns and questions. If you ever find yourself in Nelson come take a tour of the school campus.
When do I start needling and working with patients?
Students studying acupuncture are always very keen to begin to practice needling and see clients in the clinic. The clinical experience starts with observation and through learning fundamentals. As the course progresses each student’s skills develop as techniques are perfected.
Our students are welcome to begin practicing their needle technique on paper towel rolls or oranges in their first semester at school, in the second year they are guided through a needling lab, and in the third year they begin to practice on members of the public, under supervision. This progressive course provides a solid foundation of point location and needling skills.
Where is the school located?
KCCIHS is located in Nelson, in the Kootenay mountain range in the southeast corner of the province of British Columbia in Canada. Nelson is a beautiful heritage town on the banks of the Kootenay River and is known for its laid-back lifestyle, abundance of natural beauty, proximity to world-class skiing, biking, hiking, and fishing, alternative lifestyles, art, music, and healthy food.
Many famous, expert, ex-pat, interesting, and unlikely people make Nelson their home. This makes for a very interesting, colorful, and accepting community.
By car, Nelson is three hours from Spokane, WA, eight hours from Vancouver, BC, four hours from Kelowna, BC, and six hours from Calgary, Alberta.
What is required in your home country, state, or province to practice Chinese medicine after graduation?
There are different requirements for licensing acupuncturists in every country, state, and province. Please research the rules in the area in which you wish to practice upon graduation.
In British Columbia, graduates of acupuncture schools must write and pass licensing exams overseen by the CTCMA of BC. Students wishing to practice acupuncture in the U.S. should check with the NCCAOM about licensing requirements.
The Chinese medicine program at KCCIHS has graduates working in many different countries around the world, in several U.S. states, and in all provinces of Canada. Education at KCCIHS will set you up to work anywhere in the world you wish.
Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:
- Is qualified to write the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia registration exams and exams in many other jurisdictions.
- Students will have honed their ability to identify a wide range of medicinal herbs and understand their properties, energetic qualities, and therapeutic actions.
- Graduates will possess strong diagnostic skills, enabling them to conduct thorough assessments of patients’ health conditions and develop personalized treatment plans using herbal interventions.
- Have the ability to successfully select acupoints & administer needling techniques appropriate for respective condition(s)