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Beijing University of Chinese Medicine

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13 minutes ago, gwr71 said:

like you, many persons don't have that kind of funds to enroll in the best schools of TCM


Very interesting. According to you, which schools are the best schools of Traditional Chinese Medicine?


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I will point something out to readers of this thread:


  • "gwr71," who apparently has zero firsthand experience related to the topic at hand, is attaching himself to this thread to criticize the style and substance of my descriptions of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine on the basis of some conjecture based on Cuban medical education.
  • On the other hand, I studied in two TCM universities in the PRC for six years before graduating. I waited for five months after graduating to return to this page and make comments. While I may use strong words, I am certainly not ranting and raving.


I am not saying I am right about everything, but at least I am basing my comments on six years of firsthand experience, instead of... Cuban medical schools (!?). I honestly have no idea what "gwr71" is trying to accomplish other than trolling me... or perhaps earning a few mao.


Regarding the word "fraudulent," it is certainly fraudulent to tell students that they will receive 500 hours of hands-on acupuncture training, and then only provide ~5 hours of training. It is also fraudulent to print diplomas and transcripts which state that students participated in ~1500 hour clinical internships that essentially do not exist. The dictionary is clear on what fraud means: Deception deliberately practiced with a view to gaining an unlawful or unfair advantage; artifice by which the right or interest of another is injured; injurious stratagem; deceit; trick.

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@gwr71, please stop posting about Cuban education in this thread. It is entirely offtopic and not relevant to this university. Further posts on this topic in this thread will be removed.

@bigtops, please just ignore posts on Cuban education in this thread and don't resort to ad hominems. Thanks for the extensive write-up, and especially for being specific on why you had such a bad experience.

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@bigtops Indeed, thanks for warning prospective students about fraud.

I understand that you don't want to derail this thread from the BUCM topic, but if you started another thread about master/apprentice relationship and other topics of interest to TCM students, I'm sure it would make for interesting reading.

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@Lu Ok. Thank you for getting involved and moderating this thread. I sincerely appreciate it. Also, I'm glad that you found my write-up useful. I hope that it may provide food for thought for some prospective students in the future. I feel quite strongly about this issue, because the problems with Beijing University of Chinese Medicine create an incredibly stressful environment that leaves many students dealing with serious anxiety, depression, anger, and exhaustion. Not only have I personally witnessed numerous worthy students lose their passion for the medical profession, but there were also numerous suicides on campus while I was a student. Of course, suicides happen at all universities and it would be incorrect for me to say that BUCM can be directly blamed for such tragedies. However, I think that the copious stresses of campus life may very well have been an important factor. In any event, I believe it is important for this information to be here, because what one hears from the recruitment staff is extremely disconnected from reality.

@edelweis If you have specific questions, please feel free to start another thread about them, and then send me a PM to let me know where to find it. :)

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11 hours ago, edelweis said:

Thanks for the details. It's rather disappointing to hear that all unis have basically the same issues.


In HK, there is teaching of TCM under established Universities. I presume the quality control should be better in HK. Unfortunately, I don't know anybody to ask for an opinion.

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Ah, just sent the guests home from a lovely dinner party. As I digest my food and beverage, what better to do than tell a few stories?


Today I think I'll start with a brief vignette from the hospital internship portion of the BUCM edumacation, and then see where it takes me.


So, the year was probably 2016, springtime, and I was a fourth year student at BUCM (it was technically my fifth year of study; I had to repeat my second year to be allowed to transfer, and even as bad as BUCM was, I'm glad I left the Shanghai school--as I've stated before, its teachers were inferior to BUCM's, and to make matters worse, most doctors and patients in the hospitals only spoke Shanghainese, which a language unto itself, unintelligible even to most Chinese ears). During the fourth year at BUCM, in addition to endless days in the classroom staring at copied-and-pasted together PowerPoint presentations (many bore their dates of creation on the first slide, and could be a decade old or more!), we also had to cart ourselves to the hospitals once or twice a week for 见习/jianxi, which you might call "watching and doing," but which actually mostly involves "standing around watching the clock." I mean, literally. Numerous times we showed up at this or that department of the hospital to be met by staff who were rather shocked to suddenly see ten or fifteen laowai of various stripes show up expecting to be taught. "Huh, nobody told us you were coming today," they'd say, looking confused, overworked, and as though they desperately hoped we'd go away. Sometimes we did just leave; other times we stuck around, probably because there's not much fun to be had in the vicinity of 安贞门, and quite frequently the doctors would pleasantly surprise us (dripping sarcasm) by doing what? Why, by busting out a computer and one of those decade-old PPTs we'd already seen in the classroom and forcing us to sit through it a second time. Can you even really blame them? They probably really didn't get told we were coming, certainly don't get paid enough, and were more or less treated just the same way themselves back when they were students wasting the blossoms of their youths.


Anyway, on the day I'm thinking of, we actually happened to luck out and end up in a department that was organized enough to split our class into a few groups and have us follow different doctors as they went from sick bed to sick bed, making sure that people were still alive, taking their meds, etc. In all honesty, this sort of thing was boring beyond belief and often irrelevant to our education, because most of what we saw was almost 100% western medicine-based, and few of the docs really wanted to take the time to teach us anything. We were just tag-alongs. But whatever. That's not the point of the story. The point is to give you an image that will sear into your minds just what kind of work ethic one finds in Number Three Affiliated Hospital of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (北京中医药大学第三附属医院, known to student as 三府医院). And I promise you, I'm about to do just that.


But before I do, let me set the scene just a bit more. The inpatient building in Number Three Affiliated Hospital is definitely not the grimmest, dirtiest, crowdedest, or darkest hospital I've been to in China, but it's not exactly what I'd call a happy place, either. It's in an old, ill-kept building, insufficiently lit, and grimy to the point that I swear to you: I once took a panorama photograph of a bathroom that looked like an improvised explosive device had gone off in the middle of it. No, seriously. It was that, or else somebody on methamphetamines had jump kicked every single damageable surface while imagining he was Bruce Lee handing it to a roomful of Japanese ghosties. And no, that bathroom wasn't "temporarily out of order." It was always like that; that's where you went if you wanted to piss while on that floor and in that department, any day of the week, forever. Don't even ask if there was soap in there. Actually, don't even ask if there was soap in any of the bathrooms in the entire Beijing University of Chinese Medicine campus, save for one single bathroom in the Int'l College that got soap about a year ago. Somehow when Our Glorious Leader Mao Zedong came up with the brilliant idea of combining Chinese and western medicine, somebody missed the little memo about hand washing. Or maybe Mao just didn't like to wash his hands and secretly banned soap. Who knows. (But seriously: a 21st century med school with no f*cking soap in the bathrooms? Pffffft.)


So, back to my story, it's a beautiful spring day, I'm in some dark, dank Number Three Hospital gomer ward, a doctor who couldn't care less is droning on, and I begin to lose focus on the lecture. I let my eyes start to wander around the room, and suddenly I notice an odd, Jackson Pollock-esque splotch on the wall in front of me, perhaps eight feet off the ground. It's an interesting mostly brown, rust-colored apparition, the sort of shape you might expect to see on a Rorscharch test. Something about the way it spread its tendrils onto the filthy, ex-white paint suggested movement, and as I was absent-mindedly gazing into its center, I suddenly noticed that it had a brother. Yes, a mere two feet above, there was another Jackson Pollock splatter awaiting my eyes. Most interesting. Now, if there's one thing I can say nice about the Stalinist architecture style that buildings from that era of Beijing reflect, it's that they often had high ceilings. This hospital is no exception, and at about 12 feet off of the ground, I notice, hey, a third splotch! By now I was like Hansel and Gretel on a trail of crumbs, and as I reached the corner between the wall and ceiling, my eyes were practically sprinting with curious expectation: would there be even more blobs on the ceiling, too?


Why, yes there were! Several of them, in fact, all the same brownish-reddish color, all of them looking like what you'd get if you filled a Super Soaker with ketchup and squeezed the trigger for half a second at a point on the wall, and then let the ketchup just sit there forever and gradually oxidize and turn brown and you never clean it up. But then again, what kind of nutjob would bring a Super Soaker full of ketchup to Number Three Affiliated Hospital of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine? Can you even get Super Soakers in Beijing, or are they classified as subversive, or perhaps as potential flame throwers? And why didn't anybody clean... wait a seconnnddd...


As I was having that thought, the medical sleuth in me--call me 家医生, if you will--suddenly realized. Whoa. Son. We ain't in Kansas, and that ain't ketchup. No sir. Sir, I do believe that what you're looking at is the high-pressure spray of arterial blood, pumped out from a gaping puncture on some mortally wounded patient's body, hitting the wall and then ceiling at intervals perfectly timed to the poor, unfortunate soul's last, dying heartbeats. One, two, three, four, five, six... no more, no less. Did they close the wound? Did the massive blood loss mean that there was insufficient fluid or pressure for a seventh blood splatter to have made it onto the ceiling? Did... did... did...


I snapped myself out of it and tapped another American classmate--I'ma call him Jean--on the shoulder. Looking at me through the bleary eyes of a man who couldn't be more bored if he was putting coversheets on his TPS Reports, Jean said, "huh, what?" I nodded my chin in the direction of the first splat. Again, "yeah, huh, so, what?" I nodded my chin again, this time higher. Jean's eyes began the slow and then ever quickening crawl up the wall, to the ceiling, and then right back to meet my gaze. Trust me, these were some big, vigorous splashes. The moment you noticed them, your brain immediately started whirring, asking the question Jean immediately presented me with: "what the $#*& is that?"


"I dunno man. I think it's aterial blood spray," I said, trying to sound scientific. I didn't want to look stupid in front of Jean, who had in fact studied pre-med when he was an undergrad in the States.


Jean took another look up, and then back at me, his lips now curled in total disgust. I guess my science was on point, because he was somehow both nodding in agreement and shaking his head in disgust and disappointment at the very same time. "How... the $*&^... does this hospital let somebody spray blood all over the room... and then never... ever... clean it up?"


"How long do you think that blood has been up there, man," I asked.


"I dunno, looks like it could be years. Maybe longer." Remember, these markings were not red. They were the color of old iron. At least we know that the victim likely wasn't anemic. Lots of healthy hemoglobin. Till said hemoglobin was ejected at 120mmHg of pressure onto the wall, that is.


I looked around the claustrophobic room. There were four beds, two on each wall, with just enough room for a small table at the head of each of them. Between the beds was a distance of no more than 1.5 meters, which was currently crammed with about seven or eight students and a doctor or two, not to mention a few patients' family members perched on tiny stools. I imagined being a patient in one of those chipped, dingy old beds, ticking the hours in that moribund hospital away, contemplating my own frailty and mortality, wondering if I could trust the quality of medical care I was getting... and all the while, gazing endlessly upwards at a ceiling that had been painted in defiance of gravity by a previous patient's heart as its own desperate attempts to combat rapidly falling blood pressure inadvertently sped the rate at which the stuff of life was ejected from the body and onto the cold, fluorescent light-lit plaster. I imagined being a very unhappy and very afraid patient in that hospital.


Then I thought about how, over the years, how not once or twice but hundreds and, yes, thousands of times, doctors, administrators, nurses, cleaners, and all other types of staff had passed in and out of that room, and nobody had managed to say, "hey, somebody get this damn gigantic blood stain off the wall and ceiling--stat!" No, the blood was just left there to fade into the background of a place where, "not my problem" and "don't give a f*ck" might as well be the mantras... though if we're to be more accurate and use Chinese, then we should say, "算了吧,没办法,这毕竟也不是我的责任."


And you see, it is that attitude--that "we'll just leave gushing blood here for Father Time to take care of" attitude--which awaits you for your hospital internships at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. You are Time's responsibility. You arrive in July, and you will leave in June. In all the months between, the only thing that prevents you from remaining in an eternal limbo like some sort of errant shade too poor to cross the River Styx or unbaptized baby, is Time itself. For there is no promise that anybody there will even so much as notice if you skip one month of your internship or two... or perhaps even nine months, as I estimate was the number in the case of one the young woman who had been the hardest working, highest achieving, highest grade-receiving student in my class before she became utterly jaded and broken down and cynical by the BUCM farce. And if nobody even notices if you exist or not, do you think your chances of finding people who can and will teach you anything of value in those hospitals are high?


If you're thinking about enrolling in BUCM, or wondering if maybe you should drop out while you're still in your first year... well... consider those odds.

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@abcdefg, yes, I read that book--that's where I got the term "gomer" from, and indeed learned what a gomer is. Ah, what a terrible word--but yes, they exist in Chinese hospitals, too, but no doctors will ever tell you what they are if you're a foreign student. I kept wondering why they kept moving from ward to ward, their weird diagnoses changing, and the doctors hemming and hawing when I asked why they were taking meds that had nothing to do with their diagnoses. Then I read House of God and everything started to make sense. Now, as for how that book compares with my experience, I'll put it this way: take House of God, stir in some Kafka and some One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and well, that's pretty much it.


@Simple truth, I feel your pain, believe me. I am grateful that you took the time to register here and share your opinion. It's important for the word to spread about Beijing University of Chinese Medicine/北京中医药大学, otherwise they'll continue defrauding unlucky students for years to come. I hope that you manage to make it out of there with your health and sanity intact, and that you manage to learn some of what you came seeking, in spite of all the bad things there. If you ever have any questions, feel free to shoot me a private message.

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3 hours ago, SoSimple said:

How can we prove that our stuff works and at the same time not get laughed at by the westerners?  MORE SCIENCE!!  So the powers to be quite literally molded the current TCM education (the one they teach currently at all universities) with a huge emphasis on the current western biomedical paradigm (i'll save my rant on bio medicine for another time, but I'm sure you all are aware of its shortcomings).  Long story short, if you enroll at BUCM, your core base of knowledge will be bio medicine, but on the outside you will be wearing a coat of TCM.  You will use acupuncture and herbs, but you will never understand with a true depth of knowledge and wisdom how the body really works.

I'm sorry to hear about your and others' negative experience of the college. However, I'm struggling to see how cross-fertilisation between the biomedical and TCM fields can be a bad thing. I'm also confused how, ultimately, you can "understand with a true depth of knowledge and wisdom how the body really works" without relying on empirical scientific methodology. 

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33 minutes ago, Zbigniew said:

I'm sorry to hear about your and others' negative experience of the college. However, I'm struggling to see how cross-fertilisation between the biomedical and TCM fields can be a bad thing. I'm also confused how, ultimately, you can "understand with a true depth of knowledge and wisdom how the body really works" without relying on empirical scientific methodology. 


I wasn't very careful in my wording.  And this isn't really the venue for really delving into this topic in detail.


I'll try to keep it short and sweet.  TCM is scientific, but not by modern science's standards.  It's basis lies in philosophy, in particular, the philosophy of yin/yang, or the duality of the universe.  I personally think it's more of a scientific philosophy as it describes all material phenomena in the universe.  It's just more open ended and less microscopic than the modern definition of science.  Therefore it allows for more freedom and flexibility in how you can apply it (which is crucial in something as complex as medicine).  


The crux of delving into the deepest knowledge of TCM relies as much on intuitive reflection and meditation than it does on intellectual study.  It requires the practitioner to have a mind that can tune into the finer rhythms of the universe as a source of wisdom and knowledge.  It is refined by intellectual study which is in turn refined once again through emptying the mind.


By entirely dismissing this portion of the medicine (which I personally believe is far more important than the intellectual side) there is no way to gain access to a deeper knowledge.  By trying to meld this natural philosophical science into modern day's material science you lose what makes TCM so effective and marvelous (it's ability to turn the complex into simple).  Material science by definition is exact, and that is exactly its problem.  It is too exact and it often times misses the point entirely.


Of course you want to verify your results as scientifically as possible in order to not fool yourself into believing something erroneous.  This is another topic for another time.

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  • 3 months later...
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BUCM is a fucking joke, don't go there. 


I attended this university for 8 YEARS (5 for bachelors, 3 for masters) and apart from the great time I've had with friends, you learn JACK SHIT in this university. The only reasons I stuck around was because I found good doctors outside the university to learn from, and I met a great number of fantastic friends. Onto the topic, the entire education system here is a FRAUD. To be honest, I don't even know where to begin to start telling you guys how bad of a joke this university is. They teach you ONLY book knowledge, but guess what? Patients don't fall sick according to what the TCM textbooks say, so after learning for 8 years, if I hadn't been learning from great doctors outside the university, I would be a clueless dick as to how to treat patients, because none of them look like they fit into any of the categories in the books. I know many people who graduated from the university, and they are clueless as to how to treat patients. 


Before I get started, first thing you have to understand about Chinese people currently residing in the mainland is that 99.5% of them are cosplayers. They pretend to be friendly, hard working, and diligent, except nothing could be further from the truth. They want NO RESPONSIBILITIES thrown on their shoulders, and will not give you a helping hand if they can help it. They will pass all responsibilities to the next person, and make you go around in a huge circle only for you to come back and finally tell them that they are the only one who can help you with your problem, and then they will reluctantly give you a hand. True testimony: Friend went to apply for something at some office in Beijing, and calls beforehand asking what materials he needed to bring. Woman speaks like she just wants to hang up and get the convo over with, and  tells some wishy washy info. Friend goes to office, and finds out she didn't mention several piece of paper he needed to print out. Woman has a printer next to her, but tells  friend to go home and print it out and then bring it over. Friend told her he took over an hour to get here by bus. Woman doesn't give a shit and tells him to go back and print it. Friend stays there and argues with her for 30 minutes, finally making her lose enough face that she reluctantly printed it out. Took her 30 seconds. But no, they just don't want to help you if they can help it. 


1. Most of the staff there are NOT HELPFUL. As I said, they don't want to help you with your problems. They tell you to go find someone else. You go find that other person, only to have to wait for one hr for them to come back from whatever the fuck they're doing (I'm sure it isn't work) or for them to tell you to go find someone else, or find the person who told you to come find this person, because it was their responsibility after all. So, too bad so sad for you, you're stuck with a bunch of people who don't want to help you, especially if you're a newcomer.


2.The campus itself is run down. When I first entered the campus, it was like some run down old town. The buildings smell like piss and shit, and you climb stairs to get to your classrooms. There are only like 3 buildings with elevators in the entire campus. I often see handicapped students struggling to climb up the stairs to get to their classrooms. The gymnasium is rented out to outsiders to play badminton all day, because this gets them money. The gymnasium is not for students to use, sorry. If you want to rent a badminton court, cough up 60 RMB per hour like everyone else, or see ya later. The cafeteria food sucks, full of MSG, you get so thirsty after eating there.


3. They promise you a dorm, yet they rent it out first come first serve, and if you're not put in a room, you either share rooms with people, or are asked to find a place off campus, by yourself. Imagine if you don't speak Chinese. Oh, and by the way, the staff of the International department of BUCM, about 95% of them don't speak English. And when you graduate from bachelors, they kick you out of dorm because they want to replace you with new students, because, of course, the new students are more important than the ones that have stuck around for 5 years and are really into TCM and trying to do a master's degree. 


4. They tell you you're going to get lots of hands on practice. You're NOT. You spend your time in the hospitals doing jack shit, because the doctors and teachers there think you're an international student, and you're here just to get a diploma, and they're not going to let you do shit. Come now, what if you needle someone and they get some punctured organ? They don't want to be the doctor in charge of a student who makes this accident. You think the doctors there are going to teach all of you one by one and walk you through everything step by step, when they got so many patients they need to needle, as well as many students they need to take care of? No, they're not. So they're going to get you to clean and scrub the cupping and scraping equipment WITHOUT GLOVES, and attach electrical nodes to the needles, and pull needles out. That's all you're going to be doing, for months. Free labor, period. You're paying a whooping 35k to 38k rmb per year, to do free labor for doctors and learn nothing. The only way you're going to learn real things is if you go out and find classes by yourself, or if you find a good teacher who actually is willing to teach you and help you understand things.


5. The dorms suck ass. you can hear what people are doing in their rooms 3 doors next to you. People play guitars, blast speakers, and sing in the hallways. How do you block this out? Of course, blast your own speakers louder! A lot of the times during winter, you get no hot water to shower with. One winter, there was no hot water for 2 weeks. And after complaining to the staff for 2 weeks with no fucking results (because they kept saying, Oh its not our fault, it's the boiler room's fault, or its the electrician's fault, or its the fault of the Chinese students using up all the hot water in the boilers. Turns out the school wouldn't turn on a boiler for our dormitory because it was going to cost too much electricity. For fucks sake, we pay 2100 per month in our dorm, and the Chinese students pay 900 per YEAR).  I was lucky enough to get the principal's email from having a private talk with him by chance, so I decided to email the principal because shit in China doesn't get done without pressure from the higher ranks. Principal tells me problem solved. That day, I could see all the staff scurrying like little rats and getting their asses to work because they can no longer pass off responsibilities. Hot water was restored one day later. It was that easy.


6. Ever heard of SCI? Science Citation Index  (Wikipedia: These are alternatively described as the world's leading journals of science and technology, because of a rigorous selection process). In this University, to graduate from a master's or doctorate program, you need to publish at least one of these papers pertaining to TCM. You first need to know that China's medical system is stupid enough to make every doctor have to write and publish papers to garner attention, receive praise, rise in rank in hospitals, or just to look good. There is tremendous pressure in the entire medical system for wannabe or would-be doctors to write and publish papers. The more papers you publish, the more awesome you look and the more praise (no mainland Chinese doctor that I've met can live without this) you receive. And everyone is under so much pressure to publish papers. So what happens? Data fabrication (Well damn, son, you can't do research on TCM like you do for western medicine. Everyone has their own TCM constitution, and there are so many factors you need to look at and take into consideration in TCM, and plus every single individual is so unique by themselves, that it is impossible to do a standardized data collection and analyze all of this shit and put it in a paper with good looking data without editing the data to make it look good, because it never looks very good, and GUESS WHAT? Your teacher or superiors don't take "bad looking data" for a yes, so you edit it to make it look good, because you don't publish papers in China that tells something doesn't work. I'm  dead serious about this), stupid research ideas, and paying people to write papers for you. This happens everywhere in China, and  in America, Chinese SCI papers are known as Stupid Chinese Ideas. I was forced to change some data for a paper I wrote for my professor during my graduate studies.


7. Cheating is everywhere in BUCM. The front of your desk is stuck to the back of the seat in front of you, so by reaching your hand out, you can touch the back of the guy sitting in front of you. So what do you do during tests? Look over his shoulder and copy! Or bring textbooks and cheat sheets into class, and go for it! Why? Because when you get caught, there is no record, and you just get a 0, but you can retake the test next term! Small risk for huge reward. Sometimes the teachers just take away your cheat sheets and you're allowed to keep writing. Glad to know many doctors you see in Chinese hospitals graduated from cheating over and over again. I've witnessed no less than 20-30 people cheat on tests during my time in BUCM, and I've witnessed over 10 get caught red handed, but no real reprimandsThey still got their scholarships from the school. How very thoughtful. So, are you going to be the non-cheater? You get good on tests and the school rewards you with a fat wad of cash. You gonna compete against the cheaters by not cheating on a test that requires you to memorize the properties of 300 herbs? They're gonna get 90+ and you'll end up with 70+ and they will finish the year with a fat 25,000 RMB scholarship, while honest you are going to walk away empty handed?


8. On the plus side, the teachers, for the most part, do teach well in classes, but they teach whatever is on the textbook. That's nothing special, you can read the textbooks yourself and ask a senior and they'll be able to teach you the stuff just as well. 


9. The teachers take attendance! If in one term you miss out on 3 attendances for a particular course, the teachers have the right to give you 0 on your finals. So much for treating us like adults?


10. The university just built a new sub campus. The sub campus is way in the suburbs, near the factories, full of smog away from city center. As of last year, when you arrive at the school,. you're going to be stuck in a campus in the middle of nowhere, with practically no city life, breathing in deep lungfuls of pm 2.5, and not knowing what Beijing City life is really like. It takes you at least one hour to get to city center. The only people you'll know are your classmates and teachers. So much for life after class. You go back to dorm and study and sleep. Walk out of campus, and there's only a bus stop. Believe me, it's ugly


I can keep going on, but I'm tired of spewing out shit about the university, but there really aren't much good things to say about BUCM, so what else can I say?

Do yourself a favor, and don't get tricked to coming to to this university. Or if you do, go find a good doctor outside of the hospital system, and learn real TCM from them, and go to good seminars and classes outside the school that actually teach stuff.


TL;DR     This university sucks, don't go. Save precious time for yourself. Everything there is superficial. Deeper down, it's all shit.


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  • 2 weeks later...

The above post (from Avaloki) got delayed as I'd suggested toning it down substantially for the sake of credibility (which hasn't happened). And then I forgot about it while I was on holiday. Apologies for said delay.


Generally I'm dubious about long angry rants - they seem often to be coming from people who had unreasonable expectations in the first place. BUCM does however seem to have some particular issues, as more calmly presented by bigtops on the previous page.

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@roddy @Avaloki


Roddy, thank you for putting that up. Avaloki, thanks for the time and the effort it took you to write all that. I know some readers might be put off by the strong language, but I know Avaloki well and personally witnessed a lot of what he described. I'm inspired to add a few thoughts here.


The freezing showers in the winter for no good reason?

Yep, I was there for all of that. This entirely preventable problem dragged on and on and on until Avaloki got in touch with the president of the university, which was only possible because they happened to know each other personally. This was just one of many dorm catastrophes. The summer before last I told that my dorm room bathroom would be renovated. This took three full weeks, because numerous bathrooms were being renovated at once. When the work started, workers put a cloth in the tiny hallway between my bedroom and bathroom--it barely covered the entire space, and had a fist-sized hole in the middle of it. I asked the administrator overseeing this project what the cloth was for and he said to keep dust out and for privacy. I said there was no way that this hanging sheet could stop dust from getting into my bedroom, but he insisted, "there won't be much dust."


Well, that night when I came home I realized that they had been pulverizing and power sawing all the (black mold-covered) masonry in the bathroom all day long--as a result of this, literally every inch of my bedroom was covered in a thick layer of dust. It really looked like somebody stuck a hand grenade into a bag of concrete and let it go BOOM in the middle of my room. Can you imagine my emotional state? Not happy. Of course, when I got the administrator in charge all I heard was one of his (and many other BUCM admistrators') favorite refrains, "you must understand, you must understand!" (你得理解,你得理解!) Understand? I had to browbeat him and another administrator into giving me another place to stay for three weeks, but other people weren't so lucky--there weren't enough free rooms to go around, and many other students had to find a way to sleep in that dusty, unhealthy filth! "你得理解!" Like Avaloki said, you're paying ~$300US/month for the "privilege" of living there!


Handicapped students pulling themselves up along hand railings to fourth floor classrooms?

Sadly I witnessed this sight plenty of times. Whenever problems with the physical plant at the university would come up (which was all the time), we would be told, "but our university doesn't have enough money to fix these problems!" I kid you not that even the guys in charge of “后勤" (i.e., they are the ones who distribute the water for showers, make sure electricity gets delivered to the dorms) drive gold-colored 7 series BMWs. Luxury cars line the crowded lanes of the BUCM campus--huge Jaguars, Mercedes, you name it. But there's no elevator in many buildings for the many students who had polio, and the smell of shit wafts so heavily from the library bathrooms that life in the study rooms can be downright nauseating if the wind is going in the wrong direction. 但是你得理解哦!


Mean-spirited office staff? Yep.

There is something seriously sick about the BUCM office culture, as I imagine that only people who themselves are treated like dirt find it necessary to in turn bully, sneer at, and lie to the very people whose presence in the school is needed for them to even have a job in the first place! It is truly baffling, because, as I've said before, I had very pleasant interactions with all of the office staff at the Shanghai University of TCM's international school for two years, and I had pleasant personal interactions (and heard good things from friends who graduated there) with the Zhejiang Chinese Medicine University in Hangzhou.


Here's a specific example: in 2013, the year I transferred from Shanghai to Beijing (aside: why would I do that? The teaching in SH was unacceptable, because many teachers were not clinicians whatsoever! At least they were honest enough to admit it!), I missed out on the chance to get a 50% discount Beijing public transit card, which international students are eligible for. Nobody told me such a thing even existed (it didn't in Shanghai, so I didn't think to ask) until after I had missed the application deadline. I went to ask my class admin (班主任) about it, and she confirmed lackadaisically that I would have to wait till next year. I politely pointed out that there really needed to be some sort of orientation, or at the very least an info pamphlet, for transfer students, since we didn't get any of the info that freshmen did. She took this as an offense and barked at me, "well, I'm not your nanny!" (那我不是你的保姆呀!) Now, first of all, asking for a new student orientation is not the like asking for some milk and cookies. But beyond that, the whole job of banzhuren IS to be the person who looks out for the well-being of one's students!!! It just made no sense that somebody would be so unnecessarily churlish--and it was a pattern that earned this individual much enmity throughout the student body.


Utter lack of clinical training? Yep.

I will reemphasize Avaloki's point about free labor. I personally got lucky, because I was sent to a hospital in my fifth year that didn't really exploit its international students. They didn't teach me a got-damn thing, but hey, evidently nobody told them that was their job. Conversely, there are hospitals like "The Third Affiliated Hospital of BUCM" (第三附屬醫院/better known as "三附" among students) where foreign students are literally treated like corvee labor (now that's a word you don't get to use everyday!). What do I mean? It's just like Avaloki said: for the months that int'l "interns" rotated through the acupuncture clinic, they were given one task and one task only for the entire time: DISHWASHER! Excuse my French, but FUCKING DISHWASHER???!!! No joke. The glass "cups" that are used in TCM "cupping therapy" tend to get gunked up very quickly, because patients are slathered with oil before the cups are affixed, and the cups themselves are filled with soot from the burning cotton wads whose fire creates a vacuum in them before they're affixed to the patients' bodies. Sometimes sweat and ooze comes out of the patients' bodies, and if there is bloodletting involved, there can be quite a lot of blood in the cups after they're used. Since nearly two dozen cups gets used on a patient and since the patients are in and out of there like it was a fast food joint at lunch time, there ends up being a lot of "dishes" that need washing. The docs don't want to do it and the Chinese students generally get a few more clinical responsibilities (well, usually more like clerical responsibilities, to be more accurate--only doctors get to do doctoring, never interns) so they don't have to clean the bloody, sweaty, oily, sooty cups. Thus I cannot tell you how many times I saw my exhausted friends who were assigned to "Third Affiliated Hospital" coming home at the end of a long day angry as all hell. WOULDN'T YOU BE IF YOU PLONKED 35,000RMB ON THE TABLE FOR FIVE YEARS WITH THE PROMISE TO LEARN MEDICINE AND ALL YOU GOT WAS A STIFF LOWER BACK AND RAISINY SKIN DOING SOMEBODY'S DISHES!? I mean, it really and truly baffles the mind that this university gets away with this crap year in and year out.


Rampant cheating? Yep.

Some of the cheating in our tests was so blatant that people were talking about test questions without bothering to lower their voices. Sometimes it was so blatant that students sat and looked things up on their phones on Baidu. It was endemic. When I once suggested to the "I'm not your nanny" administrator that the school should really change the way it designs its tests so that they assess students' ability to think and demonstrate clinical skill instead of the ability to blindly memorize mostly-useless factoids, she told me that I should try and "stop worrying and love the bomb" like a particular Canadian student in my year. She told me that he, like me, used to see the tests as tremendous wastes of time that yielded nothing of value to aspiring clinicians. However, according to her, he had not "come to see the light," and no longer complained about the tests, and was even getting great grades. So happy this young man! My jaw was almost on his desk as I heard her extolling this guy's virtues, because he was one of the most blatant cheaters anybody could think of, and he certainly had a very low opinion of the university. I kept my mouth shut rather than sell him out... what would've been the point? The place is beyond fixing, anyway.


Since I (thankfully) did not to grad school there, the only thing I can say I saw firsthand was the problems with falsification of research for publication in SCI journals, but...

Early on in my TCM studies, around 2012 or so, I listened to a lecture given by a PhD student at the Shanghai University of TCM. I noticed that all of the research she referenced on her PowerPoint presentation came from the early 80s or before. That seemed odd, because science is supposed to make progress, and tens if not hundreds of millions (or billions?) of dollars have gone into the "scientificization of TCM" since the gory days of Mao. I asked her why she was using 30-year-old research, and she replied, "after the Reform and Opening Up" program in the 1980s under Deng Xiaoping, academia became too polluted with the desire for money, and research stopped being trustworthy. In TCM we generally don't trust anything published after 1983 or 1984. I encountered this exact sentiment time and time again all the way up till my graduation in 2017!


Taking attendance

Not only is it weird and annoying to have one's attendance be taken by professors who just sit and read PowerPoint presentations that other people made via Copy-and-Paste 10 years ago, but it is arbitrary. Two quick examples. The woman in my class with the highest grades and best attendance (till she became utterly jaded in her final two years and stopped giving a shit) was once given a very low grade in a class because supposedly she had missed a high number of classes. She had no recourse. The professor's arbitrary word was final, even though anybody could tell you that she was almost never absent. The second story is worse. For quite awhile my class had a "class chairman" (班長) who was a weird, conniving asshole in his 50s who loved snitching and getting in people's business. He took distinct pleasure in his duty to take role. One day in the classroom where a final exam was to be administered he boldly marched to the front of the room, handed the professor a list of which students in the class he'd determined had missed more than three days, and insisted that they not be allowed to sit for the exam. At first she demured--she truly didn't give a shit about attendance--but the weird "chairman" who was older than her persisted until she gave in and forbade the students (who had all studied, or at least prepared to cheat, for the exam they believed they would be taking that day!!) from taking the test. As a result, they failed the semester and had to deal with all that mess later on. In these two anecdotes one sees one thing that is rife at BUCM in full effect: arbitrariness. Caprice reigns supreme there, and it will do wonders to raise your blood pressure.

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