N o t e s
Preface
1. I use pseudonyms for practitioners and students of traditional Chinese medicine with
the exception of public figures who are easily recognizable through well-known af-
filiations with particular institutions, through biographies and memoirs, or through
public reputation for specific medical expertise. Most medical practitioners working
at hospitals and clinics in urban China are graduates from universities and colleges
of either biomedicine or traditional Chinese medicine. They hold at least a bachelor’s
degree in medicine, and some hold postgraduate degrees. After passing licensing ex-
aminations, both biomedical and traditional Chinese medical practitioners obtain
the professional title of yishi (“doctor” or “physician”) and are equally addressed as
yisheng (“doctor”) in everyday discourse. In contrast, the title of “physician” is de-
fined much more narrowly in the American healthcare system, and “doctor” is most
commonly reserved for those who have been trained at biomedical institutions and
who hold the degree of Doctor of Medicine (m.d.). It is noteworthy, however, that
in 1997 California Senate Bill 212 included “acupuncturist” within the definition of
“physician.” During my fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay Area, I noticed that pa-
tients sometimes addressed practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine by the title
of “doctor,” even though only a minority of these practitioners were M.D.s who, in
their legal status as general practitioners, were allowed to practice acupuncture after
additional training. Moreover, those yisheng who had immigrated from China often
insisted that colleagues, students, and patients address them by the title of “doctor.”
My ethnographic account in this book follows the colloquial use of “doctor/Dr./
yisheng” based on my everyday fieldwork observation and conversation, and I mark
an M.D. explicitly as such.
2. The Meridian Institute was in operation only a few years. According to Bob Flaws, a
licensed acupuncturist, publisher, and activist of traditional Chinese medicine, the
institute was promised a $2 million endowment from a single business man: “When
his business went bankrupt, so did the Meridian Institute” (Flaws 2007).
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