First days in Dr Wang’s clinic

The clinic I am attending here in Beijing is owned by Dr Wang who, although officially retired, still works in both a public hospital and his own private clinic. His clinic was one of the first fully private clinics in Beijing, and patients pay the full cost of their treatments, unlike treatment in the public hospitals which is normally covered mostly by their health insurance and subsidised by the Government.

For almost three decades now, Dr Wang has been providing advanced training for practitioners of acupuncture by taking them into his clinic to observe. The clinic is therefore often crowded with not only waiting patients but also up to 20 practitioners from countries around the world.

Unlike most western acupuncture clinics, acupuncture in China is almost always practised in a multi–bed setting. In Dr Wang’s clinic there are 4 beds in the treatment room, but while there is little privacy – as we in the west might see it – the patients, far from being uncomfortable with the experience, seem to enjoy the company of other patients and indeed the attention of so many students.

Patients start to arrive from 8am onwards and wait in the large reception area where diagnosis is conducted. With so many people, there is a real buzz, but at the same time a very relaxed atmosphere.

The range of conditions seen in Dr Wang’s clinic is undoubtedly wider than what would be seen in a clinic in Ireland. Today for example, Dr Wang treated a 53 year old woman who had had a cerebral haemorrhage 3 months previously, resulting in paralysis down the right side of her body, and loss of speech. Her recovery is slow, but there are definite improvements in her ability to move her limbs. The next patient is 73 and has had rheumatoid arthritis for 50 years. Her condition periodically worsens so that she cannot stand, and arrives at the clinic in a wheel chair. Over the course of several treatments the pain and swelling in her knees has dramatically reduced, and she can now stand and move around a little, with some support. Dr Wang has now shifted the focus of her treatment to the tinnitus in her ears.

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