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Published: April 27th 2011
When I am not climbing up Daoist mountains or descending into Buddhist temples, I am actually quite busy. On most days I wake up at 5:45 AM and head out to a nearby park, called People’s Park, to practice some Qi Gong with a few friends of mine, the Kung Fu Crew. It is still dark out when we leave, and the sun slowly begins to brighten the day as we do our exercises. The park is usually full of a handful of other people practicing their various exercises as well, from Tai Chi and jogging to sword forms and badminton. We are usually the youngest ones around, as most of the other people practicing appear to be senior citizens. I must say it really is a fantastic way to start the day. We practice for about an hour and then head back to the hotel to shower and have some breakfast before heading off to clinic rounds at the hospital.
At 8:30 AM we all gather at the Zhang Zhong Jing statue in front of the Chengdu University of TCM Hospital where we divide into our groups and head off to do our rounds. The next three hours are spent
observing, and occasionally participating in either outpatient or inpatient departments. I have chosen to spend my three weeks in the pediatrics department. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. It turns out that at this hospital, the higher the floor, the more expensive and renowned the doctors are. We have spent a lot of time on the 5th floor, the highest floor of the hospital. Here, the doctor sees one patient at a time unlike on the lower floors where there are literally a dozen or so patients all waiting in the same room to be seen. In these less expensive offices, there is no such thing as personal privacy and everyone knows everyone else’s business. It is a very different experience than we are used to in the U.S. All of the pediatric doctors I have followed have been herbalists, so they ask a few questions, take a brief glimpse at the tongue and feel of the pulse, and then they prescribe an herbal formula and send the patients on their way. The whole process takes at most 10 minutes, and often only 5. In the 3 hours we are there, a busy doctor will
see on average about 20 or more patients. It is incredible to see how it all moves so fast. One of the other fascinating things I have noticed in the pediatrics department is that in 90% of the cases at least one, if not both of the grandparents are present, and more often than not they are the ones talking to the doctor on behalf of the child, while the mom or dad sits quietly in the background. It seems they take the adage of it takes a village to raise a child very seriously here. Every now and again when there is a brief pause between patients, the doctor will ask us if we have any questions, and share some invaluable advice with us. I have been very lucky to get to learn from some of China’s most famous and well respected pediatricians, and I am savoring every moment I get to spend with them.
After the hospital rounds are finished we have a couple hours before class, so getting lunch and doing some shopping or sightseeing is usually what takes place. At 2:30 PM on most days we have lecture at the university for 3 hours. We have
been learning some fascinating things, and again I am doing my best to soak up all of the info I can. Just these few weeks here have given me a whole new perspective on the medicine, and how effective it truly can be. I have no doubt that my practice, and my patients, will be better off because of the incredible experiences and knowledge I am gaining out here.
After class finishes at 5:30, it is time to do some more exploring of the town, get some dinner, or go for a Tui Na massage. By the time the sun sets around 8:30 PM I am usually exhausted from my long day. I am often back in my room writing my blog and getting ready for bed, which is exactly what I am doing right now. And on that note, I will say goodnight, cause as you now know, I have an early start tomorrow, and another exciting day ahead of me.
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