Fame and fortune are the career goals of many people. But to Miracle Kan, a VTC graduate and a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, having the capacity to provide unsung service to patients generates an indescribable sense of achievement, even though it does not award overnight success. Having worked in the industry for more than a decade, Miracle, as the Head of Chinese Medicine Dispensary of chain Chinese Medicine Clinic now, still adheres to the traditions of Chinese Medicine under the trend of new extraction technologies and modern dispensing systems. Her perseverance can be traced back to her Higher Diploma in Pharmaceutical Technology in Chinese Medicines at the VTC.
Never Forget the Name of the Game Teach by Precept and Example
Miracle often accompanied her mother to visit Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic in her childhood. The idea of curing diseases with bizarre smelling soups made from dried herbs and plants amazed her. Having seen and heard constantly how her mother was treated with Chinese Medicine, she herself started to take Chinese Medicine treatments and use Chinese herbal therapies to improve health too. Soon she developed an interest in Chinese medicines. She would like to continue her higher education according to her interest, while her academic results of Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination did not meet the entrance requirements of Chinese Medicine Degree programmes, she then opted for VTC’s Higher Diploma in Pharmaceutical Technology in Chinese Medicines. Miracle thinks that the programme was practical and challenging. It increased her interest in Chinese medicines processing and dispensing. In class, teachers would teach students the use of steelyard, and would guide them to study ancient books and distinguish herbs, hoping to pass on Chinese Medicine traditions. She admitted, the Chinese Medicine Dispensary under her supervision uses traditional Chinese Medicine steelyards in addition to electronic scales. She also teaches her colleagues basic concepts of Chinese Medicine. This is all influenced by her teachers’ insistence on adhering to Chinese Medicine cultures.
With versatile scientific research technologies, Chinese medicines have evolved from the form of herbs to formula concentrated Chinese Medicine granules to fit the needs of busy city dwellers. Many modern Chinese Medicine clinics adopt Chinese Medicine formulae correspondingly, but Miracle insists that a cabinet for storing Chinese medicinal herbs be installed in the chain Chinese Medicine clinic which she works in. She joked that, in the ancient time, the legendary Shennong tasted herbs to test their medicinal values; in the modern time, the Head of Chinese Medicine Dispensary monitors Chinese medicines to assure their quality. She reckons that it is difficult to assess the quality of the medicines used in Chinese Medicine granules, therefore the value of medicinal herbs is irreplaceable. She explains with Ginseng as an example, “Ginsengs are classified into different grades; different grades would have different medicinal effects.” Hence, she would contact suppliers herself to ensure the quality of the medicinal herbs purchased, to ensure patients would get most suitable herbs.
Keeping Abreast of the Times Adding Value to Herself
Since graduation in 2006, Miracle has been working as a dispenser of Chinese medicines in universities and clinics. She remarked that there was a lack of manpower in the industry back then, the employment rate of her class was 100%. Even though the career prospects were favourable, many of her schoolmates left the industry, or changed to clerical jobs related to Chinese medicines, because the heavy workload rendered them prone to repetitive strain injuries. Miracle said light-heartedly that she was once injured during work and had her phalangeal bone fractured, since then she was not able to balance her body, nor squat down, still she chose to stay and serve in the industry.
Despite being able to put into practice the knowledge she gained from her Higher Diploma, she continued her education after work by taking the Bachelor of Science Degree Programme in Chinese Medicinal Pharmaceutics co-organised by VTC SHAPE and China Pharmaceutical University, in pursuit of not only the qualification, but also the opportunity to enrich herself and to keep abreast of the evolving the Chinese Medicine pharmaceutical technology. She rearranged her free time after work to attend the programme, travelling from Mei Foo to Chai Wan, making every effort without giving up. She learnt a lot during the two years of hard work, and successfully earned the degree and applied for academic accreditation.
Speaking of the pleasure at work, Miracle admitted that the clinic that she works in puts enormous trust on her and allows her tremendous autonomy. She is currently researching on how to make tasty energy drinks from Chinese medicinal herbs. “After my daily duties, I would spare time to study Chinese medicines documents, conduct tests and modify my researches on new products. Recently, the most satisfying product is a mosquito repellent made of 16 Chinese medicines developed in about a month. The new product provides protection against mosquitos and insects; and relieves swelling and itching after bite. Her Thai Chinese colleague loves it so much that she has bought many for her family and friends in Thailand.
Be Never Afraid of Authority Put Patient in the First Priority
Doubtlessly, her success is contributed by endless researches and studies. Even with her academic achievements and work experience, she still faces challenges one after another. Apart from installing the cabinet for storing Chinese medicinal herbs by herself and producing pills and pharmaceutical preparations according to prescriptions of the Chinese Physicians, Miracle also has to mediate the disputes between the North and the South. She explained that many practicing Chinese Physicians acquired their knowledge of Chinese medicines from the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China, which documents mainly Chinese medicines from Northern China, but many suppliers of Chinese medicines in Hong Kong supplies Chinese medicines from Southern China. The two parties have quite different understanding of Chinese medicines. Miracle said, “For example, to most academically trained Chinese Physicians, Isatis indigotica L., a common Chinese medicine, means Indigo Woad Root, as recorded in the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China; to suppliers, Isatis indigotica L. means Flaccid Conehead Root. Therefore, as a middleman between the two parties, I have to communicate carefully to know what medicines the Chinese Physicians exactly need.”
As medical technology advances, the value of research on Chinese medicines soars. As a result, the Chinese medicines industry has vast development potential and needs for professional talents. One job duty of Miracle is to be the final control of Chinese Physicians’ prescriptions, crosschecking the prescriptions and dosage, whether there are incompatible medicines. Thus, communication is the key. “If you think that the Chinese Physician has the highest authority, and dispense the medicines accordingly without communicating with the Chinese Physician proactively to correct the errors caused by haste, then the patient will bear the adverse consequences.” Miracle urges students who would like to pursue a career in the industry to be never afraid of the authority or qualification of Chinese Physicians, but to insist doing what is right, and to endeavour at the back, to be the unsung hero of patients, indeed that is the mission of a Chinese Medicine Pharmacist.