TCM Hospital: A Photographic Essay

Fieldwork demands focus coupled with a bit of “un-focus”. While in Shanghai researching the lifestyles of natural supplement sales associates for a multinational health and wellness organization, our team wanted to explore the cultural norms that drive the Chinese mindset around healthcare. So, we checked in to a Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital. 

By and large, TCM hospitals look like a typical Western facility: a dramatic facade and well-lit entry combine with the sort of busy-ness that suggests where to go to begin the process of care. But, as you find your way to an appointment, the sheer lack of equipment, muted sound, natural aromas, and social order are noticeable. It’s a hospital without the hospital stuff that a Westerner comes to expect, accept, and ignore. 

And it is refreshing.

In the photos that follow, my colleagues and I check in for an assessment with a doctor. Like any other consult, he asked us to describe our ailment. Unlike Western physicians, he was quite hands-on. Aching backs and necks got a twist. Numbness in our limbs received a knifehand strike. Taut muscles were given early relief with a rigorous stretch. After filling out forms, we were led to our respective therapists for more intense therapy. Except for acupuncture (my personal prescription), no invasive procedures were necessary. 

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