Chinese Healthcare & Intercultural preMedical
PennCHIME featured in LPS News!
PennCHIME is a pre-health student group at the University of Pennsylvania. Our goal is to broaden and deepen our capacity for cultural competence by thoughtfully exploring different dimensions of Chinese and Asian American communication, culture, and healthcare. We want to equip our future selves to combat xenophobia and be better providers for the increasingly diverse patient populations we’ll be serving.
During the school year, we mentor international high school students in our language–culture exchange program, host experts from different domains of healthcare in our guest lecture series, engage in local cultural and service activities, and present research overviews on individual topics of interest—all through the lens of Chinese healthcare. After a successful first year, we presented a summary of our objectives and experiences at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Section on Public Health poster session in May 2018. Through a year of perseverance and teamwork, we got our classmates and LPS administration on board with our vision for a summer healthcare observation and intercultural immersion trip to China, and together we were able to make it a reality.
In August 2018, five premedical students, one predental student, and two LPS pre-health advisors were able to embark on a ten-day pilot trip to six health facilities across three provinces in China: an urban hospital system with an array of clinics, medical education facilities, and research centers; a small community clinic; a medical needs foster home; a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) center; and a historic TCM private practice. Shadowing on rounds and in the OR was exciting and informative, but the biggest privilege was the time we got to spend exchanging views with Chinese physicians at work or in social settings. We gained actionable insights about other cultures from the trip—more than we anticipated or even hoped for when planning it. One of our objectives in China was to learn about Eastern medicine—not to judge it against Western methods, but to understand that other approaches to healthcare do exist for different patients and providers. The whole point is that we need multiple perspectives to form a robust worldview. An article featuring our pilot trip appeared in Penn LPS News.
Now, we are on track for launching PennCHIME’s second academic year, developing it into a sustainable, multifaceted, pre-health-oriented program and expanding it to include new members. The future is ripe with opportunities for PennCHIME; some of our members are interested in forming an international research collaboration with Chinese investigators from one of the hospitals we visited, and LPS is interested in forming a study abroad course to run in parallel with our student organization.
"With the ever-increasing diversity of the population of the United States and strong evidence of racial and ethnic disparities in health care, it is critically important that health care professionals are educated specifically to address issues of culture in an effective manner."
—AAMC's "Cultural Competence Education for Medical Students"
New Pathways to Understanding