An expert in Chinese Medicine emerges from Saudi Arabia

Salma Musallam Alhawiti does not look like your typical Chinese medicine doctor. But, in many ways, she’s poised to make more of an impact than they are.

Alhawiti is the first Saudi woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Chinese Medicine from the International Medical University of Malaysia (IMU).

From struggling with the Chinese language to being teased by family and friends for studying Chinese medicine, Alhawiti’s journey had been hard.

Initially I couldn’t keep up with the Chinese pronouns and memorize all the herbs and formulas in Chinese. Support was scant; many believed that he would not be able to bridge differences in culture, language, and philosophy.

A determined character, Alhawiti proved them wrong. “In fact, it was the best decision I made, since the program is well organized for national and international students with professional and helpful teachers,” he says.

Alhawiti hopes to return to his home country of Saudi Arabia and Apply the knowledge and experience you have gained.

“Chinese medicine has improved herbal medicine treatment in specific ways, allowing them to be prescribed with precise doses and times based on Chinese diagnosis,” he says.

“I hope that in my future clinic I can apply it and open up a new way of using herbal medication professionally.”

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Salma Alhawiti (2nd from right) with her classmates during the graduation ceremony. Source: Salma Musallam Alhawiti

where the dream began

Watching her mother practice traditional Arabic medicine for over 30 years, Alhawiti was inspired to do the same.

“I was fascinated with their hard work, dedication, and successful clinical operations every day of my life,” she says. “It was a great turning point in my life that helped me realize that I had to continue the same but on an academic path.

She did and earned much more. Her Chinese Medicine degree involved the study of human health in general also from a western perspective.

“This helped us build a solid foundation for diagnosing diseases, understanding medical records, and providing various treatments, including Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, nutrition, massage therapy, and physical exercise,” he says.

Hoping to carry on her mother’s legacy, she hopes to one day open her own clinic. “I always wanted to support and take charge of her career and improve it scientifically,” she says.

Chinese medicine

Salma Alhawiti recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Chinese Medicine from IMU Malaysia. Source: Salma Musallam Alhawiti

Journey to Become a Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Alhawiti first came to Malaysia in 2011 after receiving a scholarship from the Saudi government. She completed a pre-university course before opting to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Science (MBBS).

“My dream was always to study alternative medicine, but at the time, my path was not clear and I studied a few different courses,” he tells Study International.

But that changed during her second year of college, “I remember I was in my second year of finishing my Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Community Health at University of Putra Malaysia when I saw an IMU ad on social media,” he explains.

Alhawiti then made the bold decision to abandon her career and pursue her alternative medicine dreams at IMU.

During his Chinese Medicine degree, he had the opportunity to intern in many places — University Clinic, Kuala Lumpur Tung Shin Hospital, Ren Yi Acupuncture and Xing Lin Fertility Clinic.

“It was more than beneficial for me because we gained a great deal of knowledge and experience from directly observing and working with patients with various diseases,” he says.

“I had particular experience with difficult cases like ataxia and autism spectrum disorders in pediatric patients.”

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