China Trip Offers Faculty Insights into Varying Cultural Approaches to Health Care
OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University faculty are evaluating possible future partnerships with Chinese health care educators following a fact-finding trip to China.
Dean Shelley Conroy and a seven-person delegation of faculty and staff from WSU's Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions spent a week visiting colleges, universities and teaching hospitals in Beijing and Shanghai in order to learn more about Chinese educational and medical practices.
The Shanghai Medical Workers College, one of the schools the WSU team visited, has expressed an interest in partnering with the Dumke College in an effort to produce nursing graduates that meet international medical standards. Conroy said the trip will help her faculty make a more informed decision about potential partnerships with Chinese institutions.
"I was surprised to find that some of their machinery and testing equipment was more modern than ours, but hospital and nursing equipment appeared to be very dated," Conroy said. "Some of it appeared to be comparable to what we used in the states back in the 1940s."
The juxtaposition of modern and outdated technology and equipment was observed by all members of the delegation. Collectively, the group was also surprised by the hygiene standards practiced by medical personnel in the hospitals.
Lisa Trujillo, director of clinical education in respiratory therapy, was astonished to learn that respiratory therapists don't exist in China's health care system. Their duties are handled by physicians. She believes the Chinese medical community could learn a great deal about her field that would, in turn benefit, China's population.
Despite the differences, faculty returned from the trip convinced that an exchange of ideas and philosophies between the nations would improve health care in both systems.
"We could definitely learn from the holistic approach to medicine practiced in the East," said Ken Johnson, chair of the Department of Health Administrative Services. Johnson also said that despite staffing shortages, Chinese hospitals experienced much less turnover than their U.S. counterparts.
Associate provost Kathleen Lukken believes outreach efforts between WSU and China benefit faculty and students.
"China represents one of the largest populations on the face of the Earth and it continues to emerge as one of the biggest economic powers," Lukken said. "A greater understanding of China will prove invaluable for our faculty and students in today's global economy." Lukken noted that WSU has a decade-old relationship with Shanghai Normal University and predicts other WSU academic disciplines will develop exchanges and partnerships with schools in China.
WSU faculty from business, economics, sociology, history and visual arts have visited, attended conferences or taught in China during the past year. At the same time, WSU has hosted visiting scholars from China, including four professors from the Shanghai Normal University during the fall 2004 semester.
Photos courtesy of Dean Shelley Conroy.