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Scrubs in Beijing Fourth year medical student from Houston, traveling to Beijing to study Chinese medicine and Chinese beer

Another Day at Tiantan

CHINA | Thursday, 3 April 2008 | Views [1003]

On Thursday, we went back to Tiantan Hospital. In the morning, we toured their central ICU and answered many questions about end of life care in the United States versus in China. Apparently, in China, families can request that their loved one remain on a ventilator in the ICU indefinitely; they don't have other facilities available to care for such patients (for example, massive head trauma or severe hemorrhagic stroke), so they stay in the ICU unless the family decides to let them die or takes them home. They can diagnose brain death in China, but according to this attending, they do not consider it death legally, so even when the patient is brain dead the hospital must ask the family to make a decision regarding further care. He was clearly somewhat distressed by this situation, especially when he felt a case was hopeless but the family insisted the patient stay in the ICU on the vent (they don't have LTACs here), preventing another critical patient from receiving treatment.

I liked that their ICU had open windows for fresh air. Otherwise, it looked pretty much like an American ICU, especially at one of our county hospitals.

Then, we visited the radiology department, which was quite impressive. They had 4 MRI machines, which perform 20-60 scans daily depending on the time per scan. I actually watched as one scan ended, the patient hopped off the table and the next patient, who'd been watching, hopped on the table. At our hospitals, we tend to have many more MRI machines, because we are so inefficient at the turnover between scans.

More Olympic fever: the radiology intern who was showing us around asked if we were going to the Olympics. We said no, unfortunately. She then asked if we'd seen the 5 little characters of the Olympics, the Fuwa. We had. She told us that the artist who designed them was very famous in China, and that he had been in her scanner recently, but she was too afraid to ask him for his autograph.

In the afternoon, we gathered in a conference room and exchanged information. 5 American students, including myself, gave presentations we'd brought with us (mine was neurosyphilis--scintillating), and then several Chinese residents gave presentations on such things as "What to do in Beijing" and "Pictures I've taken on vacation in China". I had a little cry to myself after slightly flubbing my presentation (I was still tired and very emotional, that's my only excuse), and then it was time to say goodbye. I gave Athena, my favorite resident, an American lipgloss I'd brought for a gift. We took photos with everyone, and then on the bus.

That evening, we were herded onto the bus after dinner for "communication between students from the two universities." We had no idea what that meant, and our fearless leader wasn't told much except that we were to give some presentations. We walked into a room at another branch of CMU to thundering standing ovation by a room of international medical students. Students from India, Pakistan, Africa, and even Canada had come to China to study at this medical school, and they were told that we would talk to them about life in American medical school and how to come practice medicine in the United States. Holy crap.

I would also like to point out that the odor of BO when we walked in the room was stifling. We were also overwhelmed by the applause. Eventually, however, everyone calmed down, and some of our students gave off-the-cuff presentations about studying for USMLE, getting into residency, etc. We even had a cultural presentation of "Things to do in Texas" which included hunting, floating the Guadalupe, and drinking Lone Star beer. During the USMLE information, I watched all the students behind me (we were seated in front) taking out paper and frantically writing down everything we said. My neighbor pulled out his cell phone and texted the information to himself. Another gentlemen left the room and came back with stacks of paper which he handed out for people to write on. Also overwhelming, since getting into American residency from outside America is not a topic any of us are super familiar with. After we were done, their student presidents gave slide shows about their school; I loved that they had a combination Christmas/Eid holiday party this year, and that the co-presidents were from India and Pakistan, yet they were friendly like brothers. Clearly, this school is international in every sense of the word.

Eventually, we got out of there, after many of us (especially the girls) were photographed by the other students. On our way out of the narrow street leading to this school, we stopped in a liquor store to price out Bailey's Irish Cream, which is quite cheap here. We avoided pricing the Maotai, which is uber disgusting. It is a white "wine" (fiery spirit) made of millet which is very strong and totally nasty. I shot the whole glass at Henry's pre-trip party and strongly regretted it, as every time I burped for the rest of the night I tasted it again and nearly gagged. Then it was back on the bus and back home.

Tags: capital medical university, first week, tiantan hospital

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