The five-year Chinese medicine programme will lead to a double degree in Bachelor of Chinese Medicine and Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biomedical Science. The curriculum covers the theory and clinical practice of Chinese medicine; basic Western medical science, such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnosis and pharmacy and internship. A special physical education course provides the knowledge in fitness, tai chi and qi gong. A mix of instruction media is used. Apart from Cantonese and English, students have to be able to understand Putonghua and read simplified Chinese characters. They also need to read medical literature written in ancient Chinese prose. Sixty-three students have been enrolled in the programme in the first two years. Second year student Queenie Yip Tsui- pik, 20, said her interest in the subject had been influenced by a biology teacher at secondary school, who used to talk about acupuncture and other traditional cures which aroused her curiosity about the mysterious power of Chinese medicine. 'This aspect of the Chinese culture is particularly precious. It is a huge treasure for me to explore,' she said. Absolute equality Tsui-pik and her classmates have established a society to promote the status of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong and help the general public better understand it. 'We want absolute equality between Chinese medical practitioners and Western doctors as it is in the mainland.' Despite the heavy workload of her studies, Tsui-pik is still active in the society's activities, such as organising a February exhibition at Sha Tin Town Hall. 'We need to constantly remind people that we are here, and we are enthusiastic about it. Otherwise, the hype for Chinese medicine would fade,' the publicity secretary said. Tsui-pik is excited about her eight-month internship at Guangzhou Hospital in the last year of her study, when she would learn about the Chinese health care system. She decided to go into practice after graduation to gain more experience before considering doing research. Tsui-pik believed academic research was important for the discipline to achieve a more prominent position in the world. 'Its theory is too obscure for the outside world to understand. We need to do more scientific analysis to explain it [in a] language that everybody understands,' she said. Tsui-pik also criticised the Government's weak stance in the face of opposition from Western doctors against Chinese medicine. However, she is still optimistic about the prospect of the profession.