John Nan is an M4 who recently returned from his one-month clinical elective rotation at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China. John found out about this opportunity through Global REACH, which partners with institutions around the world to match Michigan med students with clinical electives in more than a dozen countries. Here he shares his observations about what it was like to participate in a different healthcare system and how he thinks it will impact his future medical practice.
“Michigan offers a wide spectrum of international opportunities and resources, and has a culture that encourages students to pursue these opportunities. This rotation offered me the opportunity to be exposed to and become more familiar with the philosophy behind traditional Chinese medicine, which otherwise is very difficult to see.
“It was also very interesting to see how different the workflow was and how the tremendous patient load affected patient-doctor interactions. The average physician sees 50-100 patients per day in clinic so history and physicals were extremely abbreviated, and patient education was very minimal. However, clinics always ran in a very efficient manner and seemed to be quite good at avoiding medical errors as well.
“Traditional Chinese medicine is very different from that of Western medicine, so sometimes it is difficult to understand why certain patients would refuse certain treatments, or take herbal supplements rather than other medications. After this experience, I understand better the attitudes of many patients from an Asian culture.
“As fourth-year medical students at Michigan, we have a good balance of medical education, time and freedom in order to pursue these types of experiences. I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity early enough in my training so I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learned to my future practice, which will hopefully allow me to better relate to my patients.”