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Duquesne University Students Visit, Examine Chinese Health Care System

A group of 22 students from Duquesne University’s Schools of Health Sciences, Pharmacy and Nursing returned recently from a three-week study abroad trip to China, where they visited several of the country’s health care facilities.

Dr. Gregory Frazer, dean of the Rangos School, led the group, which also included Dr. Yang Chen, associate professor of speech-language pathology, who is program director of the school’s Voice Clinic as well as a Chinese native.

Benefitting from Chen’s connections, cultural knowledge and fluency in Chinese, the students got a privileged and in-depth look at 11 different types of health care facilities. Among them were the National Rehabilitation Center in Beijing, the largest of its kind in China and the first facility to offer speech-language pathology services, and the Fourth Army Hospital in Xi’an, a teaching facility for China’s military medical personnel.

The students were, in fact, the first group of students from a U.S. university to visit the Fourth Army Hospital. In addition to its teaching function, the Fourth Army Hospital is one of China’s preeminent health care facilities, being one of the largest in the nation’s northwest provinces as well as a national center for the treatment of difficult and complicated diseases and injuries.

According to Frazer, the Chinese facilities offered medical services at a level of quality that would be acceptable, and in some cases, laudable in the West. Surgeons at the Fourth Army Hospital, for example, have successful hand and face transplant procedures to their credit.

There are differences, however, between Chinese and Western medical care. For one thing, the students witnessed the tremendous number of patients that health care professionals treat each day. They also learned how, in Chinese culture, there seems to be less concern for patients’ privacy, which, in the United States, is considered a civil right to be scrupulously protected by federal law and professional standards.

Another difference between US and Chinese health care services, Frazer said, is the juxtaposition of allopathic or conventional medicine with traditional Chinese remedies and procedures. Nearly everywhere they went, for example, the group saw the side-by-side availability of pharmaceutical and traditional drugs, sometimes each dispensed by its own druggist. In Shanghai, they witnessed a child being treated for cerebral palsy in a similar way that she would be treated in the United States, while simultaneously undergoing acupuncture.

Because Chinese medicine has been administered in a more or less standard way for millennia, people are often more familiar with them than they are with Western health care procedures. “Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for 3,500 years or more,” Frazer said. “Western medicine is the new kid on the block.”

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.