According to family and friends, indecisiveness is by far my “most frustrating” quality. It’s true – I spend abnormal amounts of time trying to make decisions. From the small decisions: Should I have chicken or fish for dinner? Buy black or brown boots for the season? Go to Wegmans before or after the gym? To the big decisions: After school, should I live in the North or South? Have a cash based practice or accept insurance? Treat patients with chronic diseases who are extremely ill or pamper the affluent with acupuncture facelifts? While I could spend hours if not days debating which decisions are right for me, as of late, I have impressed myself with sheer decisiveness in one important aspect. The question is: To go to China, or not to go to China?
I’m getting ahead of myself – let me rewind. Every year, the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers an Elective China Trip for those who are interested. The trip is three weeks long. The first week is spent in Beijing doing touristy stuff (ie: Great wall, Olympic Park, Tienamen Square, Forbidden City’s Palace Museum, Pearl Market, etc). Next we take an overnight train to Hangzhou where we spend the subsequent 2 weeks working in the Hangzhou Hospital. Since this is an elective class, it will obviously encompass schoolwork. Our days at the hospital will be split: half the day will be devoted to lectures by Chinese doctors and the other half will be spent shadowing those doctors. For clinic opportunities, we will get to choose based on interest. A few examples include: Internal Medicine (ie: Herbs), Oncology, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Mental Health, and Tui Na. Evenings off in China include group dinners and exploration of both Beijing and Hangzhou. Additionally, we leave April 12th – which is the Saturday before finals week and stay straight through our break, returning to Central New York a few days before class starts for the summer trimester.
Like any responsible decision maker, I decided to make a pros and cons list:
- Traveling abroad sounds AMAZING! Especially to China!
- Seeing Chinese Medicine as a fully functioning health care system where it was created may bridge some gaps between mystical belief system that may have some benefit to legitimate health care system that is factually based on positive clinical results.
- The trip will put Academia into prospective and allow me to think about my future practice.
- Traveling with many of my friends from school will be so much fun!
- Everything is all set up – all I have to do is pay the money and I don’t have to worry about the logistics (aka: booking hotels, flights, and getting a translator).
- The trip is spearheaded by a faculty member who has many connections in China and is fluent in Chinese.
- I can’t wait to see the “Pharmacies” aka: Herbal Dispensaries!
- The cultural opportunity will be great – especially the cuisine.
- $$$$$ – MORE student loans
- I will have no break to let my brain flat-line between trimesters, which is much needed in this program.
- More schoolwork on top of schoolwork.
- By leaving before finals week, we have to take ALL of our finals in the weeks prior to leaving– it will be a big push towards the end.
- Traveling abroad can be scary and unknown.
- The language barrier and being clueless in a foreign country is not ideal.
- The flight is extremely long and jet lag many ensue and linger for a few days. This is more relevant for the trip home because we won’t be adjusted before having to start our very first internship in the clinics.
Overall, and rather quickly, I have concluded that the risk is worth the reward. I AM GOING TO CHINA! I think this will definitely be money well spent! Stay tuned for more exciting information regarding the China trip!