By Yasmen Simonian, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM
It was over thirty years ago that Frankie Gibbs presented her keynote speech addressing Blood Banking in China at our Region VIII, Intermountain State Seminar (IMSS) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was an interesting talk which I never forgot. She showed us how blood was collected and how it was distributed. I wanted to see it with my own eyes and experience something different from what we did in the United States at that time.
Today, we at Weber State University’s College of Health Professions, are preparing for our eleventh China Healthcare Study Abroad starting May 8th, 2017, for 18 days. Over the years, the faculty and many of our students have had the opportunity to experience first-hand the healthcare and the culture of China. I am happy to report that these experiences are enriching and priceless. They are not easy to conduct; however, they are worth all the work that it takes for them to be successful and unforgettable.
The China Healthcare Study Abroad is a four credit course that is cross-referenced among our College of Health Professions programs. We have four faculty that represent, Radiologic Sciences, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Nursing and Dental Hygiene. There are usually twenty-four or so students attending from various disciplines in our college. We meet several times prior to our trip to study Traditional Chinese Medicine, the culture, how to use chopsticks, what to do and not to do while we are there. In addition to visiting major sites i.e., the Great Wall in Beijing, the terracotta solders in Xi’an, hospitals, we do some shopping in Shanghai. The major goal of the study is to participate in community service in northern China. We travel to Jiamusi where we have an agreement with the Heilongjiang College of Health Professions.
Each of our students is paired with two of their students that are learning English to become international nurses. The reception and the welcome we receive are beyond expectations. In addition to over 3,000 students and faculty, the entire city comes to greet us. We are hailed like dignitaries with red carpet, bands playing, flowers, balloons, doves, speeches and the media coverage to top it all. The educational experience that our students receive is unparalleled, unmatched and the bonding created between the students is extraordinary. The most difficult task for them is to say goodbye; however, the friendship prevails on Wechat and some other means of social media. We all stay connected and continue to learn from one another.
Why am I sharing this experience with you? I had a wish to see the world and take my students to experience healthcare firsthand. With the help of my colleagues and support the dream was realized and it continues to be successful. Everyone in our arena is experiencing global closeness. NAACLS receives questions, requests and invitations to connect with others at an international level. It is time to access how we can be there at the international forefront successfully and with substance.