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Journals from NUR 398 Health Care in China

2008-02-15 Looking Back at China

The trip to China was amazing. My only expectation was that I would return to Portland changed, with new perspectives and ideas. This expectation was fully met. I must admit, however, that this trip was also uncomfortable and challenging for me in ways I was not expecting. The food became more mysterious as the trip progressed and the bargaining was more intense than I was expecting. The biggest frustration was communicating with the health care professionals, both with and without an interpreter. And it is this frustration that grew into an understanding that has left a lifelong impression on me. Several times people asked about when patients can no longer pay for treatment, about HIV/AIDS, about ethics, but we never received clear answers. I have read articles and written a research paper about these topics and am confident the information was not fabricated. So why wont anyone answer us? At first I was content to think that the meaning of the question got lost in translation. I tried asking more specific questions and was somewhat successful but still unsatisfied. Then I decided it was the government censoring the information. It wasnt until the end of the trip when we all conferred together that I had that duh moment. A brief glance of a large Chinese city and it doesnt look that different from the United States. The Beijing hospital did not seem that different from any of our own. But this is not the standard in China, this is not where its at, its where its going. And that is the perspective I realized I needed to assume to understand China: look at where its coming from. I then felt nave and narrow minded. Its not that my inquiries were simply being ignored or misunderstood, these concepts do not exist yet in China. The existence of literature on certain topics does not mean it is general knowledge for the Chinese people. The China we saw really is only 20-30 years old. They are still trying to provide care for everyone, let alone worry about if people are being treated fairly or not. After visiting China and attempting to understand and communicate with the culture, I am more aware of how to approach other cultures. My own culture and way of living may serve as a comparison, but I cannot use it as a measure of what is good or bad or how things should be. Life is so contextual. Even within the United States, what works well for health care in one city may not work well in another. This trip also offered insight into elements of Chinas health care system that we could benefit from. We have several small cities in which we could set up something similar to the rural clinic we visited. If we could only offer free/affordable preventative and basic care, how much healthier would our population be? This course has also given me a better understanding of China in a global context. I probably would not have researched and learned about China if I had not participated in this course. As China grows economically and likely replaces the U.S. as the world superpower, it is that much more important to know about this amazing country. It is nice to be home sleeping in my own bed again, but I know that I will continue to utter, well in China , for quite some time. I will not forget the hospitality and respect with which we were treated. No kind of knowledge can equal experience. I love the fact that travel forces you to acknowledge that there is more than your way of living, your way of doing things, and my perspective on life and society will be forever changed. Theresa Schmidt

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