Healthcare Project in China
We typically place volunteers and interns in hospitals and clinics in the Hebei Province in China, which is just about 2 hours’ drive from the capital city Beijing. To get a good idea of a typical healthcare project in China, potential volunteers and interns may look at the following project description. (Please note that volunteers and interns may be placed at different hospitals/clinics.) There are limited healthcare positions available, so it is recommended for applicants to apply early in order to avoid disappointments.
o The hospital was founded in 1987, has become an influential hospital in Zhangjiakou Wanquan. It is among the first batch of provincial three-star civilized service units and provincial demonstration hospitals.
o The hospital currently has about 300 beds (expanding to 500 beds soon) and 270 healthcare staff members (including 207 health professionals). The hospital has 5 inpatient wards, including internal medicine ward, surgical ward, female ward, etc. The hospital has 10 medical departments and also bears the 911 emergency tasks (which is 120 in China). Hospital construction area is about 18000 square meters.
o The hospital has modern medical equipments about 130 sets, including MRI scanners, spiral CT, 500MA-X ray machine, CR, DR, digital gastrointestinal machine, colonoscopy, automatic biochemical analyzer Miriam, haemodialysis apparatus, hyperbaric chamber, laparoscopy, ICU intensive care equipment, pathology equipment, etc.
o The hospital’s provincial and municipal key specialties include orthopedic, stroke, cardiology, rehab therapy, etc. After 20 years of development, the hospital has become a professional run hospital with strong technical force and advanced medical equipments. In the year of 2012, the hospital had about 100,000 outpatients, 9000 inpatients, over 1300 surgeries, and 61 million Yuan revenue.
Volunteers and interns will be working under the guidance of local doctors/nurses. Depending on the volunteers’ education, skill levels, local language skills, and desires, they might do the following works: patient care, take vital signs, remove stitches, give vaccinations, clean wounds, practice chinese medicine technique (such as fire cutting and acupuncture), give injections/IV, give medicines, etc. For these who are interested in Chinese medicine, this is a very interesting project although the hospital does have western medicine departments as well.
Volunteers and interns typically work for 8 hours a day for 5 days a week.
What to Bring:
For the healthcare work, volunteers should at least bring their own white lab coat and stethoscope since the hospital may not have extras for volunteers.
The success of your internship experience is dependent upon you and what you want out of it. A proactive attitude and a willingness to help are essentials in making the most of your time spent as a volunteer abroad.
Some projects abroad operate with very limited resources and may not be very efficient in finding tasks for interns, so it is important for interns to take a proactive attitude abroad. Whenever needed, try to offer help and make suggestions in a respectful manner.
As a premedical student, your opportunity to do hands-on work with the patient is more limited but some doctors will show you how to conduct routine examinations as well as signs and symptoms to look for in emergency patients. It really depends on your attitude with the doctors. The more interest you show in the local staff and the hospital, the more interest they usually will show in you and your learning. This is a great opportunity to learn about the people working in the hospital and their various backgrounds. The more friends you make (with nurses, doctors, or medical assistants), the more opportunity to learn and observe from various procedures that they notify you about.
Due to the language barriers in China, local language skills or at least a translation tool can be very important. Also, please be aware that the local people may speak Chinese with their local accent. The volunteers can’t just sit in a corner and expect everyone to adapt to them. Volunteers need to show interests in helping and learning, and be respectful to the local staff and local ways of life. Normally it takes a couple of days or a week to get to know the staff and to get familiar with everything. Of course the doctors and nurses want to get to know the participants before they start giving them more tasks. In this way, it can be hard for a quiet and shy volunteer to get to do things sometimes.
Overall, any participant in this program should be outgoing and friendly with the medical staff in their placement. This will open opportunity to you inside and outside of the hospital. The local people are very friendly and really open up if you are willing to learn some Mandarin and engage them with it. For times when the hospital is slow, it is a great chance to learn about local culture, the local healthcare system, and make friends that are willing to include you in procedures when hospital gets busy.
If you approach this project with a good attitude, it will be a productive and much more complete experience.