How can I save lives?

Every time I asked myself this question, the first answer that came to mind was, “By being a surgeon.” So I pursued that goal, only to realize after my first year in pre-med that maybe there was a different way.

I had always been fascinated by the human body; anatomy, physiology, even biochemistry, all drew my interest. Also, I had always wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives. So naturally, I started pre-med in university very enthusiastic to learn as much as possible. But to my surprise, I wasn’t inspired at all. Something major was missing: interaction with patients.

How was it possible that the only ways discussed in class to treat a patient were to prescribe medication or perform surgery? Why weren’t we addressing other modalities like nutrition, lifestyle and stress management? More and more, I knew I had to find a better way to learn what real medicine meant.

Once I found out about Chinese medicine, I knew it was my calling. I wanted to understand the mystery and complexity of Chinese medicine, Qi and acupuncture. 

I enrolled in a program at the Michener Institute of Education at University Health Network which was made available by the University of Tianjin and Nanjing to Toronto students wishing to specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The program granted students full access to all the major hospitals in the downtown core, and the location, next to Chinatown, provided easy access to resources. Plus, the program had accreditation with national standards through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). I applied and said a few prayers. Soon I was one of the 25 selected students allowed per year. 

My studies were preparing me for the arduous task of pioneering this healing approach, new to the Western medical system, by serving as an educator, advocate and resource to both patients and doctors in Ontario. Now, that was inspiring! It also challenged me to broaden my existing knowledge of Western scientific standards and open up to philosophies based on observations of the environment. Chinese medicine has roots and proof of data dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. If I was going to help patients heal, it was going to be with this.

After 4,000 hours of practical and theoretical diagnostics and clinical experience—not to mention having to learn a new language at a grade 2 level!—I finally received my Diploma with Honours in Acupuncture. I also completed a concurrent degree in Complementary Medicine (Bachelor of Health Science) through a joint educational program with Charles Sturt University in Australia. My experience in the program prepared me to navigate discussions with patients about options and alternatives to the sometimes invasive practices of everyday medicine. It allowed me to focus on the importance of empowering patients to be advocates for their own health.

Now, after almost 20 years of experience, my work with patients has aligned with the goals I had from the beginning:

  • To provide the public with the utmost level of education for their health;

  • To help patients combine the best of all medicines and make informed decisions; and

  • To promote the simple idea that everyone is worthy of putting themselves first, and living a normal routine that encourages prevention—not disease.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. Whether you work with me directly or just learn a few new things from this site, your Qi will thank you!


Julie Amar holds the following credentials:

  • Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R. TCMP)

  • Registered Acupuncturist (R. Ac)

  • Member in good standing of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO) since the college’s inception in 2013