Celebrating 26 years of Excellence

Celebrating the 26th Anniversary 

Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Inception of TSTCM:

Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TSTCM) was officially registered in 1995. As the funder and president, Mary Xiumei Wu started offering short practical acupuncture courses such as point location and needling, pulse and tongue diagnosis according to increased interest and demands on quick practical natural healing modalities. Mary was very clear that training a real doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) who has the basic foundation, practical skills and sufficient clinical training, takes at least five years full time formal medical school education. While continuing offering courses with minimum essentials for the practice of acupuncture, tuina massage and Chinese herbal medicine, Mary started her research on legislation, regulation and standards for the practice of acupuncture and TCM in North America. She had studied over 30 acupuncture program curriculum from United States and Canada, analyzed the situation, consulted with expert advisors and set the mission for TSTCM to offer high standard formal professional TCM education. In 1998, TSTCM offered the first Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine Diploma Program, one of its kind in Canada and North America. This 4 year full time program composed of total 2880 hours including 800 hours of clinical training. The program can be completed in 3 years with an intensive schedule, or study part time according their individual situations, 

The First Mile Stone:

In 2001, the three graduating students from the first doctor of TCM diploma program, Marylyn Bell, Corinna McFarlane and Jay McCoy, decided to go to the USA to take the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) the certification examinations for Acupuncture and for the Chinese Herbology. They believe in the excellent education they received and they were confident in their knowledge, understanding and application skills. They wanted to prove that they meet the requirements and they reached the professional levels! There was no such exams in Canada at that time. To support and help these students, TSTCM offered an examination preparation course, and Mary decided to take her exams together with her students. While she was helping the students preparing their exam, Mary was also preparing her own exam. In May 2001, Mary and her students went to New York for their Clean Needle Technique workshop and the test. They achieved 100% pass! Because of 911, they changed their plan of go back to New York, they went to Vermont for their Acupuncture and the Chinese Herbology exams in November. On a Saturday, they took the 5-hour comprehensive Acupuncture exam and the 1-hour point location test. On Sunday, the next day, they took the 5-hour comprehensive Chinese Herbology exam. The proctor joked when she saw them back the second day: “you must not be Americans!” because nobody doing the two exams one day after another. People usually take the herbology exam months after they took their acupuncture exam in order to study and prepare. All students passed both of their exams, including Mary. The average pass rate for the NCCAOM exams was about 70%. Since then, TSTCM and Mary was known by NCCAOM. The first Doctor of TCM class successfully reached the first TSTCM mile stone of 100% pass!

The Doctor Title:

Practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical practice and a formal health profession. Students may choose study TCM or Western Medicine in China. Graduates of TCM (including acupuncture) could earn same levels of undergraduate or graduate degrees, such as bachelor’s or master’s degree, even Ph.D upon the completion of their programs. Doctors of TCM could receive the same levels of professional titles such as resident doctor, deputy chief doctor and chief doctor, and academic titles such as assistant professor, associate professor and professor. In the province of British Columbia in Canada, doctor title is awarded to individuals who have completed a five year full time TCM education with total of 3250 hours, including 1000 hours of clinical training, after passing the Doctor of TCM Competence Examination. The admission requirement is two years university study. 

In Ontario, after many years of continuous hard work of many TCM leaders, a special session in the TCM Act 2006 described the use of “Doctor” title: “Subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council and with prior review by the Minister, the Council may make regulations, (a) regulating or prohibiting the use of the title “doctor”……”. Although still working in progress, it is hopeful that TCM practitioners could be allowed and be privileged for registration as Doctor of TCM if they meet all the standards and requirements in the future. Some TSTCM graduated from the five year Advanced TCM Diploma program was approved by CTCMA-BC and passed the Doctor of TCM Examinations! We are very proud and warmly congratulate these graduates for their highest levels of achievement as TCM doctors! We encourage all our graduates of the ATCM program to write the TCM doctor exam!

Moving Forward: Phase 2 of the Doctor Title Project in Ontario

CTCMPAO is preparing to begin Phase 2 of the Doctor Title Project and is currently recruiting members to serve on the Doctor Title Working Group. Interested individuals are invited to submit their resumes and cover letters for consideration by December 15, 2021. 

The Doctor of TCM Program and the Advanced TCM Program

Legislation for the practice of TCM was a very complicated and length process. The first request for TCM regulation in Ontario was submitted to the government in 1986. It was not until 1996, the government requested the Health Professional Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) to provide recommendations for acupuncture regulation. In 2001, HPRAC submitted its report for regulation of TCM. Doctor title was not recommended to the TCM profession. The main reason was the lack of educational program at the doctoral levels. Although there was no formal standards or program requirements, HPRAC has checked the programs of all the five health professions, Medicine, Chiropractor, Dentists, Optometry, and Psychology, that were authorized the doctor title. They have concluded that all these programs has 4 year professional training and require 3 years university for admission. The doctor of TCM program offered by TSTCM was 4 year professional training and required 2 years university for admission. HPRAC did recommend the Minister to consider the doctor title for the TCM profession when educational program became available. It was at that time, in 2002, TSTCM has upgraded its Doctor of TCM Program to 5 years full time with minimum of 4220 hours of professional education including 1340 hours of clinical training, and two years university education for admission.   

In 2006, A Report to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on Regulatory Issues and Matters respecting the use of “Doctor Title” in Traditional Chinese Medicine was submitted by HPRAC. In the TCM Act, a session about the “Doctor” title was included. 

The law governs all the regulated health professions in Ontario is the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA). RHPA has strict controls for the use of the “doctor title”. Only members of the five named professions can use the protected title “doctor”. TSTCM did not issue any certificates or grant any title to its graduates. The government stated that the use of the term “doctor” in the name of the program implies a “degree” program. TSTCM was given 4 options in dealing with the issue: 1. change the name of the program without the use of the “doctor” term; 2. sue the government and go to court; 3. pay a fine that cost minimum of $100,000; 4. Mary be taken to jail if continue with the program name. With very careful analysis of the situation and very careful consideration, in 2010 TSTCM changed the “Doctor of TCM Diploma Program” to the “Advanced TCM Diploma Program (ATCMP)”. The term “doctor” had to be covered and eliminated from all the promotional materials and from the school documents. For the past 20 years, the ATCMP program has been demonstrated it’s one of the most systematic and comprehensive program in North America. Graduates of the ATCMP program have become some of the finest and most successful TCM professionals!

Currently, the Canadian Alliance of Regulatory Bodies for TCMA (CARB-TCMPA) is in the process of establishing the standards for accreditation of TCM education in Canada. CARB is also planning to upgrade the Entry-Level of Occupational Competencies for the Practice of TCM and Acupuncture, and hoping to add the competencies and to create national examinations for Doctor of TCM.              

The Regulation of TCMA in Ontario

Ever since its inception in 1995, as one of the leading institutions in North America, TSTCM has earned its excellent reputation by offering high standards, systematic, comprehensive and unparalleled quality of education. As a passionate and visionary leader, Mary has actively participated and made significant contributions to the regulation and recognition of TCM. She was appointed to the Advisory Committee for the regulation of TCM in Ontario in 2003. Her recommendations were seriously considered by legislature. She was named the “TCM Lady” by primer Dalton McGuinty, and “indispensable for TCM in Ontario” by Michael Chan, the Minister of Citizenship. Her contribution was highly recognized by the government and by the profession. In 2008, she was appointed to the Transitional Council of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario by the Lieutenant Governor, and actively participated for the establishment of standards of education and practice of the profession, the Entry-Level Occupational Competencies and the Pan-Canadian Examinations. Mary strongly believes the importance of education. High quality professional education is the only way to ensure the quality of the profession, and the safe, effective and ethical service to the public. She has been pushing very hard for accreditation of TCM education, and we are very glad to confirm that CARB-TCMPA is working on accreditation of TCM education in Canada.    

The Students Financial Assistance - OSAP

In early 1995, Mary contacted the government regarding the registration and financial support for TCM students. We were told that there was no legislation for registering TCM schools, except registering as a business. There was no government student loans such as OSAP or any other financial support for the students. It was very clear to Mary that TCM regulation and legislation was the most important for the recognition, acceptance and development of TCM and the profession. With over 10 years of hard work of many leaders of the profession and organizations, Ontario government passed the legislation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Act 2006. With continued persistence and hard work, TSTCM received its Eligibility of Ontario Student Assistant Plan, and became the first TCM private school approved by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities for OSAP in 2016. Now, many TCM and Acupuncture students could enjoy the financial support from the government. The availability of OSAP has made possible for many students to study TCM, and who would not be able to do so without the OSAP. The approval of OSAP for TCM students has brought the profession to another level that is parallel with other health professional education, and has very significant and long term influence for the growth of the profession and the recognition of the medicine.          

The Expert Advisory Committees for Regulation of Natural Health Product in Canada

In 1997, Mary was appointed to the Advisory Panel for the Regulation of Herbal Remedies. Later, she was also appointed to the Expert Advisory Committee for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Expert Advisory Committee for Natural Health Products. As member of these advisory committees for Health Canada, Mary has made presentations and recommendations to the Health Committee of House of Commons, and the Health Ministers regarding the regulation of TCM products, and the recommendations of professional regulations. While she was serving in the expert committees, many of her recommendations were considered and incorporated into the regulation of natural health products to ensure their safety, quality and efficacy.  

Promoting TCM Through Volunteer and Public Education

As a nationally recognized expert in the field of TCM and education, Mary has been invited for lectures and presentations as TCM expert by health care professional programs and organizations. Almost all these presentations and demonstrations were volunteer without pay. For some large skill shows, the school had to pay high fees as an exhibitor. Her presentations are prized as informative and enjoyable. She was invited to lecture for the introduction of TCM to medical students, pharmacy students and graduate students at University of Toronto, presented to medical students and students of physiology and toxicology at Western University, presented and demonstrated at the program for Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (PIPER) to medical students, physiotherapy and occupational therapy students, midwifery and nursing students, as well as students of childhood education and social workers. At Queens University, Mary was invited to give presentation and demonstration for acupuncture at the Canadian Undergraduate Conference on Health (CUCOH), the Kinesiology and Health Science Student Organization (KAHSSO) at York University. She was invited to present TCM to Asian Medical and Dental Student Association at McGill University, to present acupuncture to nurses at the Peter Brojde Lung Cancer Center in the Jewish General Hospital, to talk about TCM to the pre-med students at the Dawson College & Marianopolis College in Quebec, and invited by the Order des acupuncteurs du Quebec to introduce Chinese herbal medicine to acupuncturists in Montreal. As one of the most well known TCM presenters, Mary has been invited to give lectures to many professional organizations including the Pharmaceutical Science Group, Chiropractors, Naturopathy, Massage therapists and Nutritionists. She also made presentation to the Canadian Lung Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Society, the Diabetes Association, the Fibromyalgia Society and the Arthritis Society……    

To promote and raise the awareness of TCM, TSTCM was actively participating health shows and events with presentations and demonstrations. TSTCM attended the Total Health Show and the Whole Life Expo for over 10 years. Thousands of people has listened to Mary’s lectures, and experienced TCM pulse and tongue diagnosis and demonstrations of Tuina massage and acupuncture. At the Canadian National Exhibits (CNE), TSTCM attended this 18 day show as an exhibitor for 6 consecutive years. At the booth, under the leadership of Mary, TSTCM students learned to promote TCM, communicate to the general public, practiced TCM diagnosis and modalities. Many people experienced immediate results of Tuina massage and acupuncture. Many people became interested in acupuncture for their health, even for their career afterwards. With invitation, TSTCM has participated at health and wellness events provided TCM consultation and treatments to government agencies such as the National Women’s Show, Women’s Health Matters, Syme 55, the Occupation in Health Care Expo, CRA, Canada Service and Government Services, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Senior Homes, the Four Season Hotel and Stroll for Liver organized by the Canadian Liver Foundation, and university professional and graduate fairs. 

Thanks for the hard work and persistent, TSTCM together with many people, TCM is getter more and more accepted for its health benefits, and the practice of TCM is getting more and more recognized as a formal health care profession. 

Swift Adaptation of Technology and New Methods of Teaching during the Pandemic

When the lock down started in Canada because of the pandemic, TSTCM acted swiftly to switch the teaching of all courses online in 2 days. We offered all the clinics via online case discussions and provided all students with the make up of the required hours for direct patient contacts when the in-person clinics re-opened. By doing so, almost all students were able to graduate as they originally planned, passed their Pan-Canadian examinations, successfully registered with CTCMPAO and start their practice.  

At the beginning of the pandemic, when all the personal protection supplies such as masks, hand sanitizers and rubbing alcohol became shortage, TSTCM has prepared and distributed these supplies to students who needed them. Mary also prescribed and prepared the herbal medicines to help students to boost their immune system and to prevent the possible infection by COVID-19. To reduce the potential risks of infections and ensure the safety and health or the students, Mary and Robert drove their car to deliver these supplies at the doors of the students who relied on public transit. Many students were so touched by their care and considerations. 

TSTCM has always put the safety and health of their students first while ensuring the high quality of education. With the uncertainty of the pandemic situation, TSTCM is carefully observing and analyzing the situation, make the best possible decisions that assures the students well being and the learning outcomes of their education, as well as following the government guidelines.  

The Pan-Canadian Examinations for TCM Practitioners and Acupuncturists

Since the TCM Act was proclaimed April 1, 2013, the first ever Pan-Canadian Examinations for TCM practitioners and acupuncturists was offered by the Canadian Alliance of Regulatory Bodies for TCM Practitioners and Acupuncturists (CARB-TCMPAO). Two exams were offered in Ontario: the examination for TCM Practitioners, and the examination for Acupuncturists. There were two components for each exam. The first component was the comprehensive written exam. The second component was the clinical case study exam. Candidates much pass the first component first in order to be eligible for the second component. Generally speaking, the pass rate for each component was around 70% (+/_ 5%). The national average pass rate for both components was about 45% for the first few years of the Pan-Canadian exams. TSTCM new graduates had achieved many 100% passing! In 2013 and 2014, 100% of new graduates passed the written exams for both TCMP and Acupuncture. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, 100% of new graduates passed the clinical case study exams for both TCMP and Acupuncture. In 2018 and 2019, all new TCMP graduates passed both the written and clinical case study exams. In 2020, all TSTCM graduates, new and old, passed the Pan-Canadian Examinations for both TCMP and Acupuncture! This outstanding performance was the results of combined efforts of bright good leadership, well designed curriculum, efficient and effective training strategies and continuous effort and hard work of both faculty and students.

As of 2018, all individuals who were trained in Ontario and passed the Pan-Canadian Examinations and registered with CTCMPAO, 52% of registered TCM practitioners were trained and graduated from TSTCM, and about 22% of registered Acupuncturists were trained and graduated from TSTCM. We are very proud about the success of our graduates and the accomplishment of TSTCM!  

Proud TSTCM Graduates

Over the 26 years of excellent education and services, TSTCM has trained hundreds of qualitied professionals. Among hundreds of our graduates, some have become the finest and top practitioners, even well recognized educators and leaders of the profession. Many TSTCM graduates have been rated the three best acupuncturists in their cities. Some of them have won prestigious awards. 

A list of the Three Best Rated Acupuncturists: 

Best Rated Acupuncture

TSTCM                        Graduates

Practicing                         Cities 

Name of their                                               Clinics 

Amy Lee 


Pink Lotus Acupuncture & Wellness 

Amanda Barone 


Best Health Acupuncture 

Drew Nesbitt


Natural Health Care for Women

Eric Ahn  


Maple Acupuncture & Wellness 

Mai Pham 


Mai Medical Health Centre 

Katrina Dollano 

Oak Ville 

What’s Good 

Martin Perras 


Oak Tree Health 

Sanjana Asnani 



Ryan Longenecker


Avenue Acupuncture

Corinna McFarlan


Blue Mountain Acupuncture


Amy Lee: Readers Choice Award 

Drew Nesbitt: Top Choice Award 8 years in a row

Ryan Longenecker: Consumer Choice Award 7 years in a row 

Educators and Leaders:

Ryan Brook: TSTCM Class 2003: Owner and Director of Eight Branches Academy

Richard Kwan: TSTCM Class of 2004: Director of Acupuncture Program: Shiatsu School of Canada and instructor 

Kenneth Choi: TSTCM Class of 2010: Director of Acupuncture Program: Academy of Integrated Medicine and instructor

Kenneth Choi: Professor of TCM program at Humber College. The only full time TCM professor at public colleges

Amy Lee: Peer assess, and Professional Advisor for CTCPAO

Martin Perras: Class of 2010: Elected council member of CTCMPAO

Ryan Longenecker: Class of 2010: Elected council member of CTCMPAO

Justin Lee: Class of 2012: Elected council member of CTCMPAO

Aric Chang, More Nick, Eric Ahn, Maria Florentin, Katherine Chekhter, Michael Gang Liang, Shelley Shuang Yu, Effy Germanis, Karen Tsoi…… Instructors


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