Liaoning International General Health Trainers – China
* Due to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus, INMED is temporarily halting international service learning experiences to China.
Shenyang, in northeastern China, is home to one of that country’s first family medicine residencies. Visiting medical students and residents assist an American family physician and Chinese residents from the Chinese Medical University in serving the medical needs of local citizens. Medical care is provided at two urban outpatient clinics, a 100-child orphanage, and several rural sites in nearby areas.
Visitors serving with LIGHT will be able to communicate adequately in English, given that all the LIGHT physicians speak English, as does most of the staff. In addition to medical service, visitors to Shenyang can enjoy its numerous famous attractions, including the Imperial Palace, Zhao Ling Tomb, Fu Ling Tomb, the Water Caves, a botanical garden, and several scenic mountain sites.
Location & Community
Liaoning International General Health Trainers, best known by the abbreviation LIGHT, is headquartered in Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning Province. This province lies in the northeastern part of China, just northeast of Beijing and close to Korea, Mongolia and Russia. Shenyang is a famous heavy industrial city, and is also the economical and cultural center of the northeast area and a hub of communication.
Shenyang has four distinct seasons. Spring last from February through May, with average temperature in the 50s F. There are sand storms in the spring because the wind blows through the open soil that has not been covered by grass due to the cold. Summer is from May through August (temperature 80s or low 90s F). Autumn lasts from August through October (temperature in 50s F), and winter from November through February (temperature in 20s or 30s F). Shenyang’s winter is one of the coldest compared to other cities in China.
Become familiar with China’s culture, history and economy by reviewing the Wikipedia China Profile. Rich resources for China health information include the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation IHME China Country Profile and the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory China Data.
Numerous airlines fly into Shenyang, but most require a connection in Beijing. Most people coming from the US take Korean airlines because of low price (Shenyang is close to Korea), and the flights do not require a connection in Beijing. Personnel from LIGHT will pick up arriving visitors at the airport.
Once approved to work with LIGHT, the staff will advise applicants on obtaining the correct visa and completing the appropriate registrations after arrival in China.
Traveler’s Health & Safety
All routine vaccinations should be current, including hepatitis A and B. Also recommended is Japanese encephalitis vaccine for those coming more than four weeks during May through October. This vaccine can be obtained at the LIGHT clinic in China. One should consult with their personal physician before traveling, and refer to the CDC Travel Website for the most up-to-date health information.
Local Chinese patients served by LIGHT are normally of very low income. China’s medical insurance system is largely tied to employment. Those who are unemployed usually do not qualify for medical insurance, leading to delays in seeking medical attention. Common diseases are those typical of primary care, including hypertension, hepatitis, diabetes, and occasionally TB.
Patients are seen in an urban clinic for foreigners, an urban clinic for nationals, rural clinics, orphanages, and nursing homes. Each setting offers an age-specific set of primary care problems. Primary medical care is a new and pioneering service in China. Therefore, large numbers of patients are not seen. Those attended quality whole-person care and excellent physician training in each patient encounter.
The local language is Mandarin Chinese. However, all the physicians speak English, as does most of the staff. Visitors will be able to communicate adequately using English alone.
Medical Care Services
The mission of LIGHT is both to provide care for marginalized people and to train Chinese resident physicians in family medicine. Multiple medical care settings are employed. The Deji Hospital Global Doctor Clinic mainly serves international persons working in China. Image International Clinic provides care to local Chinese people of humble means. LIGHT mobile clinics also serve the medical needs of a large orphanage, a retirement community, several rural town sites, and an HIV care clinic. LIGHT works in cooperation with the Chinese Medical University (CMU) Family Practice Department.
Public Health Initiatives
LIGHT emphasizes clinical prevention throughout all its primary care services, from urban health centers to rural clinics. Patient health education routinely addresses issues of diet, exercise, tobacco use, substance abuse, family planning, and trauma prevention. LIGHT health education efforts are also aimed at equipping other healthcare professionals with the motivation and skills to make this an intricate part of their practices.
Clinical screening and secondary prevention are relatively new concepts in Chinese society, and LIGHT is actively educating citizens about this importance. In this context LIGHT provides early detection of common diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. Well child care is meticulously provided by LIGHT, with emphasis on tracking growth and development, and appropriate intervention for delays.
Healthcare Profession Staff
LIGHT is lead by Chinese physicians Gujian Guo and Pangyan, and by Peter Burgos. Dr Burgos is a 1991 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Medicine who also completed a family medicine residency at St Francis Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas in 1994. The staff also includes some ten Chinese and six American physicians, and three American and European nurses.
Students and residents are welcome to participate in all activities of LIGHT. Most patient care is in the outpatient setting, with limited inpatient opportunities at this time. The patient care load in clinics tends to be light. In addition to health care, visitors may be invited to teach medical English and to participate in medical conferences.
Students should expect to have a higher level of autonomy. They must be self-starters and take the responsibility on themselves to make the most of their experiences. They will spend the first week visiting the different avenues of the work. Then, students select their own area of focus – such as orphanages or urban clinics – where they choose to spend most of their time. Students are also expected to participate to in the educational conferences for the Chinese Family Practice Residents held twice each week. Previous INMED Learners who served at this training site include these Graduates.
Student Lodging & Meals
Students may be housed in the homes of LIGHT staff, depending on availability. Local hotels are also available for $15-40 per night. The official currency in China is RMB, the Renminbi. US dollars and major credit cards are accepted in hotels and certain restaurants and shops. Outside of these, however, this is a cash society. Using a Visa check card to withdraw money from an ATM is the best way to obtain money in Shenyang. Travelers checks are not recommended.
Wireless Internet is widely available for a low cost. All of China is within one time zone, and is 13-14 hours ahead of Central Time in the U.S., depending on Daylight Savings. The telephone Area Code for Shenyang City is 024.
INMED invites all participants to consider raising extra funds to financially support this facility. While such efforts are not required, they provide opportunity for INMED personnel to become involved in this important aspect of international healthcare.
Shenyang was the capital of the Qing Dynasty from 1625 until 1644. Its numerous attractions include the Imperial Palace, Zhao Ling Tomb (North Tomb), Fu Ling Tomb (East Tomb), the Water Caves, a botanical garden, a wild animal park and several scenic mountain sites.
Behavior & Dress
Medical personnel should bring a white coat for work. Slacks, but not jeans, are acceptable for both men and women to wear to clinic; men rarely wear ties.
What To Pack
Visitors should bring copies of all healthcare profession licenses, diplomas, or certifications. It is also recommended to pack a carry-on bag that has essentials items just in case one’s luggage becomes lost. Bring clothes appropriate for the weather. If travel is to include flights on a China domestic airline, be advised that the free luggage weight limitation is normally less that than allowed on international flights. The usual limitation on domestic airlines is 20 kg or 44 pounds per ticketed passenger. Electrical power is 220 volts in China, so bring a voltage converter for appliances that require 110 volts only. For expensive items, like computers or projectors, it is advised to bring along the purchase receipt for proof of ownership to customs officials.