The Life of a Chinese Medicine student

TCM student from SSNT

The Bachelor of Health Science (Chinese Medicine) at Southern School of Natural Therapies (SSNT) is a 4-year intensive program and the highest level of undergraduate Chinese medicine training available in Australia (AQF level 7). Join us as we interview Lea, our current student in her final year of study, as she explains what studying Chinese Medicine is like.


What made you interested in studying Chinese Medicine?
I grew up in a household where natural therapies were the go-to medicine when I was sick. From when I was a teenager my mum would take me to a Chinese medicine practitioner. As I got older I found what he did more and more intriguing and amazing and there just came a time where I realized this is what I needed to study. Throughout my life I would always tell friends to take this herb or try this tea when they were sick. I guess trying to help people has always been there for me, even before I realized it was what I wanted to do!

“My absolute most favorite thing is having clients come back and seeing them feeling better week to week from our treatments and herbs.”

How do you manage the demands of study with work?
A work/life balance can be quite tricky. The study load in this course isn’t light, there’s always more reading or research to be done, and the expectations are high. Nevertheless, not only is the course progression flexible, but we’re all passionate about what we learn and this degree truly changes your life.

Chinese Medicine student

Whats your favorite part about studying at SSNT?
The teachers – I think we’re really lucky in that every teacher also practices Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so they always have great insights from their own clinical practice. I also love how small our campus is and the community atmosphere that comes from always seeing familiar faces around.

Studying what I love has been a truly incredible journey. We’re so lucky to have lecturers that are not only passionate about what they teach but also successful practitioners in the industry themselves. This really helps to get a ‘real-world’ perspective on what we learn as the information is not only theoretical but extremely practical.

This knowledge carries into the student clinic and I think that it really helps to prepare us in crossing the bridge from learning purely theoretically to applying what we’ve learned to our own patients in the clinic. Which, at the end of the day is every student’s favorite part of the degree. The success and busyness of the clinic reflects this, the Chinese medicine appointments are nearly always booked out, I think this is very much a reflection of both the knowledge and passion of our supervisors as well as the support they provide us.

“We’re so lucky to have lecturers that are not only passionate about what they teach but also successful practitioners in the industry themselves. This really helps to get a ‘real-world’ perspective on what we learn”

What do you love most about Traditional Chinese Medicine as oppose to western medicine?
It’s such a holistic medicine. We don’t just look at the presenting main complaint, but we try to uncover where this has stemmed from, both physically and mentally. We ask why so we not only treat the manifestation but also the root cause. My absolute most favorite thing is having clients come back and seeing them feeling better week to week and getting good results from our treatments and herbs.

Western medicine definitely has its advantages in emergency medicine and investigations, but when it comes to really looking at the body as a whole and treating the whole person in front of us, not just their ailment, I think TCM really is fantastic.

Coming into my final trimester, every week I feel more and more prepared for life as a qualified practitioner after graduating, and I look forward to applying everything I’ve learned and more to my own practice.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to future Traditional Chinese Medicine students?
Make sure you’re supported. There are times when this course can get pretty demanding, so having people around you to help and support is probably the most important. But also, have fun and enjoy the journey. With thousands of years of knowledge to draw on, there’s always going to be more to learn and that can get a bit overwhelming, so remember you don’t have to know it all and just enjoy this amazing medicine we have the privilege of learning.

 Are you passionate about Chinese Medicine?
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