Traditional Chinese medicine schools kicked out of global directory because they teach TCM, not medicine

Science & Health

Although traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is very popular, and has been strongly supported by the government for decades, there are also many Chinese people who believe it is superstitious, unscientific twaddle. The debate about TCM within China has been reignited by the removal of eight Chinese medical schools that specialize in TCM from the World Directory of Medical Schools.

Photo credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is said to be based on more than 3,500 years of Chinese medical practice that includes herbal treatments, acupuncture, massage, and dietary therapy. Although it is very popular, and has been strongly supported by the government for decades, there are also many Chinese people who believe it is superstitious, unscientific twaddle.

The debate about TCM within China has been reignited by the removal of eight Chinese medical schools that specialize in TCM from the World Directory of Medical Schools, a country-by-country listing of institutions approved by the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). Students at TCM schools told China News Weekly (in Chinese) that as a result of the decision, they were ineligible to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination, or disqualified after taking the test.

Schools like BUCM, which are by definition “TCM schools,” and so cannot be appropriately accredited and thus its graduates aren’t allowed to take conventional medical tests, explained ECFMG, in a string of emails translated by Chinese blog DeepTech (in Chinese).

The news has sparked a flurry of reactions (in Chinese) from both sides of the argument, with TCM believers condemning the decision, and skeptics applauding it as further proof that the ancient and predominantly experience-based medical methods had no appeal in the international community.