The province of British Columbia, which I now call my home, holds their licensing exam only once a year, unlike CALE which is held twice. Furthermore, the process here consists of two separate exams, a written multiple choice exam and an open-answer clinical exam. There are also several levels of licensing. One can either be an herbalist or an acupuncturist, or one can write the Practitioner’s exam, which incorporates both aspects, and then there is the Doctor level.
Congratulations to the class of Yo San 2014! Two thousand miles north of you guys, on an island called Salt Spring off the coast of Vancouver, I gave up my thoughts to those people who used to be my schoolmates. Having rushed through the program at Yo San myself, I walked the year before some of my classmates. It seemed very important at that time that I got in and out as soon as possible, you see, being Canadian in Los Angeles on Visa, far from family, friends, and my comfort zone. It may surprise some of you to hear that I am not yet in practice. The province of British Columbia, which I now call my home, holds their licensing exam only once a year, unlike CALE which is held twice. Furthermore, the process here consists of two separate exams, a written multiple choice exam and an open-answer clinical exam. There are also several levels of licensing. One can either be an herbalist or an acupuncturist, or one can write the Practitioner’s exam, which incorporates both aspects, and then there is the Doctor level. Our curriculum at Yo San has prepared me for this final level of licensing, but I had to first complete the Practitioner’s exam level. I am happy to report I have passed both, but I do not know if I will pursue the doctor title this year or next. But this lengthy process was to expected. Not having gone to school here, I had no one to help me with all the logistics of applying for exams, the timing involved, the details. And there are no study guides, only an general outline of all the topics covered on the exam. There is definitely a market for Herb Boy or Linda’s notes up here, except that there are more herbs and formulas on the exam. Oh, and they call exterior attacks EPI’s, for external pathogenic factors. And the safety course was via mail-order CD-ROM, not compatible with my Mac, and an online assessment. Luckily I met someone here who was also writing the exam, so things eventually got easier, and I got it all done.
So what have I been doing this whole time? How did I brush up for these exams while out of school for so long? How do I feel about finally being able to start practising soon? I picked up where I left off before deciding to become a TCM healer. I work at a plant nursery, I talk to people about their gardens, I sell them beautiful flowers and trees and have immersed myself back into the botanical world I loved so much, all the while reviewing my herb cards and diagnosing on the fly, of course! It was a long year, but it was a yin period for me, a readjustment and a return to who I was, as a way of establishing who I am now. I think this is an important part of finishing school and starting up real life. This is the longest I’ve ever been outside of academia since I started kindergarten, so it was frightening, but I found my foundation in the familiarity of other aspects of my life. Just now they’re interwoven and fused with TCM. So I consider the yin and yang of one shrub compared to the next. I talk to customers about the tastes and temperatures of vegetables and herbs they are growing, and how to stretch for their back pain. And I always let them know that I am in the process of obtaining my license here and that I’ll make my big splash once the opportune moment arrises. Until that time, I find comfort in the forests, my garden, and the flow of Life around me. I say, don’t make your whole life about school, but don’t exclude what you learn at Yo San from everything else that happens in your life.