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UW Family Medicine now in ninth year of collaboration with Beijing clinic


Drs. Yan Yan and Yuming Dong of the Yuetan Community Health Service Center in Beijing spent the fall on the campus of UW-Madison through an exchange program launched in 2002 by Dr. Kenneth Kushner (at right).

by Pauline Zhu

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Family Medicine continues to collaborate successfully with a partner clinic in Beijing.

Chinese doctors Yan Yan and Yuming Dong of Yuetan Community Health Service Center (affiliated with Beijing’s Fuxing Hospital) spent part of October and November at the University, joining the staff of St. Mary’s Hospital in conducting rounds, offering consultations, and attending lectures and research seminars.

Family medicine is still in the early stages of development in China. In 1997, Fuxing Hospital established China’s first three-year residency program in family medicine, using affiliated community health service centers like Yuetan. The clinic’s director, Xueping Du, and UW Professor Kenneth Kushner launched an exchange program in 2002 between the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and Yuetan, which specializes in geriatrics, pediatrics, and chronic diseases. The program allows doctors from both countries to learn about different medical care practices and systems.

“The doctors here do more things than us back in China,” commented Dr. Dong. “There is a comprehensive system in which family physicians play active roles in primary care and collaborate effectively with medical specialists. Also, family physicians are well respected and trusted by the patients.”

The visiting doctors both said they were impressed by the dynamic learning environment at UW-Madison.

"Medical students in this residency program are communicating frequently with the resident and attending doctors,” said Dr. Yan. “There are also a lot of lectures and seminars through which students can learn more theoretical knowledge. These are very effective ways of training."

Language barriers did not seem to bother either visiting doctor.

“People in St. Mary’s Hospital are so nice to us,” said Dr. Yan. “We do not have much difficulty understanding each other.”

Though their schedule was tight, Yan and Dong were able to enjoy campus life.

“It is a lot different from Beijing, but still very lovely. The lakes are charming, the UW campus is wonderful, and the food is tasty,” said Dr. Yan.

The exchange program between UW’s Family Medicine and Yuetan now regularly sends doctors and medical students back and forth. Professor Kushner considers this a mutually beneficial process, noting that the Chinese visitors take home innovative ideas for reforming residency programs, while doctors from Wisconsin learn about traditional Chinese medicine techniques, such as acupuncture, and also different professional approaches to family medicine. As an example of the latter, Professor Kushner cited the Chinese practice of associating residential buildings and neighborhood blocks with a particular community health service center in the vicinity. According to Professor Kushner, this makes primary medical care convenient, and furthermore is a likely factor in China’s higher immunization rates.

Professor Kushner hopes the UW Family Medicine-Yuetan connection will continue to create and sustain professional bonds across continents. To that end, he is already busy preparing to take a new group of UW medical students to China in September.



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