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From vet nursing to a degree in Chinese medicine

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | Tuesday, 6 December 2022

chinese medicine future of wellness

In under three weeks, Ellen Freeman will have finished her acupuncture degree. She feels passionate and ready to take on the world which is far from the mental and physical fatigue Ellen experienced as a vet nurse.

“When I decided to leave vet nursing, I had a ‘what now?’ moment," Ellen said. "I brainstormed all the things I liked and wanted in a career – helping people, my interest in medicine etc. and I was also receiving acupuncture treatment for my health concerns at the time – so the universe led me to study acupuncture! With acupuncture, I felt like I was on the right path from the start."

As Ellen already had scientific knowledge from her vet nursing, she could draw on this during her Bachelor of Health Science degree at Endeavour. But it wasn’t all easy.

“Western Medicine is based on a symptomatic method – we observe and treat the symptoms. But in Chinese medicine, we’re looking for the root cause of the disharmony so that we can treat that – not just the symptoms,” Ellen explained. “Because it’s more in-depth and holistic, it’s harder to learn. No two people are the same, so no two treatments are the same. Likewise, no two practitioners are the same.”

Ellen’s partner is in the defence force. Halfway through her degree, they moved from Brisbane, Queensland, to Maitland, New South Wales, and Ellen transferred to Endeavour’s Sydney Campus. She travels three hours in one direction to reach class. “That means getting up at 4am to be at the College by 7.30am for an 8am start or organising to stay with a friend if I have a clinic block. If you’re passionate, you make it work,” she said.

Ellen is now finishing her practical hours in Endeavour’s student clinic and loves using a combination of different styles that she has learnt from her lecturers and clinical supervisors.

“Patient-centric care is my thing! I explain the treatment and its benefits in layman’s terms to each person,” Ellen said. “I want to remove the mystery – make acupuncture less ‘magical’ because it is very scientific and deserves its place in the Western health system.”

She’s also transforming her skills with animals to help people.

“The interview process in the clinic is similar, except as a vet nurse, I had to rely on the pet owners to describe their pet’s symptoms and medical history. Vet nursing helped me develop skills in listening and extracting information in an emotionally charged setting.

Although she has not quite finished, Ellen is already considering two job offers in women’s health and musculoskeletal medicine that came to her through Instagram. “I strongly recommend to other students that they start self-marketing while they are still studying. In the last year or so, I got on Instagram and just started showing people who I am. I wanted to share what I was learning with people who know nothing about acupuncture. It has led to lots of opportunities,” Ellen said.

“It’s good to know those opportunities are out there. I think acupuncture is a safe bet in an industry that’s growing in popularity as people move to more preventative and holistic health.

“If you’re thinking about studying Chinese medicine, immerse yourself! I continued to work as a vet nurse during my studies because that was my background. If I had my time again, I’d seek out a natural health clinic and mentor to work with and live the medicine right from the beginning.”

Interested in Chinese Medicine?

Discover Chinese Medicine — An entire medical system designed to balance the functions of the body, mind and spirit and restore health. Find out more about our Bachelor of Health Science (Chinese Medicine).

Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers higher education Diplomas in Health Science and Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture Therapies and Chinese Medicine.

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