Post Graduate Interview – Carmen Bedard-Gautrais

carmen bedard-gautraisName: Carmen Bedard-Gautrais

Program Graduated: Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Location: Parksville/Denman Island


Parksville Physiotherapy:

LIFT Education:

Question – What do you value most from your education experience at Pacific Rim College?

At Pacific Rim College, we were taught many approaches to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, from 5 elements to orthopedic needling and everything in between. This has allowed me to see a wide variety of clients and feel prepared for the unexpected, equipped with a hefty tool bag. People all have their own language, their own way to describe their ailments and what they expect from their treatments, by having been taught a wide variety of approaches I can attune the language and approach I use to the client in front of me, therefore creating a more patient centered approach.

Question – How much has the schooling you received from Pacific Rim College helped you in your career?

It is the very basis through which I practice TCM. From acupuncture to herbal treatments, nutrition to life style coaching. There is a wealth of knowledge at Pacific Rim College available to students. Even following a TCM program I was able to learn about some common western herbs and learn from fabulous herbalists. Because we live in the west, knowing common herbs is so critical because often clients come in asking about Milk Thistle, or St Johns Wart (just to name a few) and I feel I can address the questions accurately, thanks to professors at Pacific Rim.

Question – How did your clinical training help prepare you for career entry?

I found especially in my final year of the DTCM program, the requirements for clinical hours amped up, I am grateful for this, as really there is no replacement for experience. It’s all theory until you get the chance to practice. I really appreciated that we had access to a Student Clinic therefore patients were aware that they would be treated by students. This may seem obvious but I have gone through other health care programs where the clinical experience was not student specific and this can be quite overwhelming especially in the first years of training. I also took advantage of the study abroad opportunity and completed my clinical requirements in China. I would love to do this again and again, what an enriching experience, one that I will never forget.

Question – Where are you currently working?

I am currently working at Parksville Physiotherapy is a bustling clinic as a Registered Physiotherapist as well as a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner. I therefore treat quite a broad range of ailments though most of my case-load revolves around pain, particularly chronic pain. From a physiotherapy standpoint, I use rehabilitation/biomechanical approaches including in-depth assessments with individualized exercise programs. From a purely TCM standpoint its wonderful to be able to look at the larger whole system patterns, which is one of the most marvelous things about acupuncture, something I still find quite magical. The herbal medicine is a profound passion for me, it’s always exciting to be able to use them clinically especially to help clients take their treatment home for a more consistent support system they will be able to take everyday.

Aside from the clinical aspect of my career, I am also teaching through LIFT education with Gillian Marsollier. I have created a TCM Herbal Bootcamp to help support students preparing for their national board exams. It has just recently been launched, and was a pleasure to develop. After years of gathering and creating study material, the TCM herbs were always my favorite and it’s wonderful to be able to balance out clinical work with teaching work.

Question – What do you think potential students should know before applying to Pacific Rim College?

Give it all that you’ve got, this time is precious, and though sometimes it may feel like the student life is never ending (I did 13 years post secondary, so trust me I understand that feeling) it does go by in a flash. The more you put in, the more you get out of it. Know that your teachers want you to learn, love the material so much that they want to pass it on, and on top of that have a wealth of experience in the areas they are teaching so TAKE ADVANTAGE of this. Ask questions, ask lots of questions. Take the extra time to study and really integrate what you are learning, because all of a sudden you’ll be off practicing on your own, so gather as much material as you can to help you along the way. I found some of the homework assignments I was given during my schooling at Pacific Rim, I still use today. For example in Shi Lao (TCM nutrition) we were asked to create a hand-out to help patients understand quickly what foods to avoid/add based on their general TCM pattern presentation. I still use that hand-out all the time. That’s one of the wonderful things about Pacific Rim College, teachers truly want you to be as well equipped as possible.

And last but not least, enjoy. It was like living a dream, working in the herbal dispensary along side dear friends. Very treasured memories.