Singapore

TCM physicians to undergo mandatory continuous training

Changes, including $10 million grant, announced in efforts to modernise traditional Chinese medicine sector


All traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physicians will soon have to undergo lifelong training, just like Western medical doctors.

The Health Ministry is also giving out $10 million in research and development grants as part of efforts to modernise the industry.

These changes were announced by Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) yesterday.

"Tradition and science can co-exist - it is not about choosing one or the other," Mr Chee said.

"It is about integrating the best practices from both traditional and scientific domains."

He was speaking at the convocation ceremony for NTU's biomedical sciences and Chinese medicine double degree programme.

There are currently 3,115 TCM physicians registered with the TCM Practitioners Board.

About 63 per cent are diploma-holders, while another 26.5 per cent have bachelor's degrees.

At present, TCM physicians are encouraged, though not compelled, to earn at least 25 continuous TCM education points a year through accredited events such as those organised by the Institute of Chinese Medical Studies.

Tradition and science can co-exist - it is not about choosing one or the other. Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat

Under the new rules, it will be mandatory for practitioners to chalk up such points if they want to renew their practising certificates.

This is in line with what is already being done overseas, Mr Chee said.

But the finer details - such as how many points must be earned in a year - have yet to be decided on, he added.

The new requirements will take effect after the TCM Practitioners Act is amended, which will probably occur within the next 12 to 18 months.

However, there will be a grace period to allow those in the industry to adapt.

"I urge all TCM practitioners to start preparing for this, so that you refresh your skills and knowledge and keep up to date with the latest TCM developments," Mr Chee said.

Physician Wong Chin Nai, who has been practising Chinese medicine for nearly 50 years, said it is always a good thing to improve standards in the industry.

"But some of the older doctors are wondering if they can have lower requirements, since they have already worked for so long and have a lot of experience," added the 77-year-old.

On the TCM Development Grant, $5 million will be set aside to help those in the sector improve their skills.

Application opens in January.

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Traditional Chinese MedicineMINISTRY OF HEALTH (MOH)Nanyang Technological University