I’m back and blogging!
In February, I went to Thailand to attend the CMDA-CME conference. It is designed to give physicians and nurses (particularly from N. Am.) help in meeting continuing medical education needs for maintenance of licensure and it occurs every year, alternating between Asia and Africa. Although the content is world class, it is SO MUCH MORE than a medical meeting. It is more like a family reunion that happens every two years with like-minded health professionals doing similar work all over Asia. All of my China legal documents came in time for me to attend this conference and I’m so grateful!
Many of you are asking about my day-to-day schedule, and it is starting to take shape. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning I have clinic at the Global Doctor International clinic, where I see anyone who is interested in seeing a western-trained physician. Most of the patients are foreigners, but there are also quite a few Chinese patients as well. I also cover some afternoon clinics if the other attendings are out at one of the other clinical outreaches. The afternoon half days are spent on various charitable outreaches. On Monday (but sometimes Tuesday) we visit one of four orphanages. Other afternoons include visits to nursing homes, countryside clinics, and a Shenyang city charitable clinic. I usually go to the orphanage, but the other places are split between the other attendings depending on our schedules and needs. Friday afternoon is our didactic teaching time where attendings lead (mostly in English) lectures and workshops on medicine to the residents. I staff the clinic when not giving lectures. Tuesday mornings I reserve for work with Global Health Promise and related activities. I will also resume studying with a Chinese tutor several hours a week to continue a focused, intentional time of study to get this language down.
Time outside of clinics or outreaches is spent in lecture preparation, other pediatric consults, foster home visits, and whatever the day brings! Saturday may also involve some outreaches, but are spent catching up the work from the week, studying, as well as shopping at the market, cooking and cleaning. Sunday is for resting!
I still get up early to run 6 days a week. The evenings are also pretty free to do whatever, usually I take some time to review new Chinese words I learned that day, and catch up on emails and blogs. This is also my time for heart preparation and reflection.
As all of you know, the schedule presented here is a guideline for the day, but the real substance of the day lies within me and the people with whom I interact. The mundane is the real trial of character. The Chinese tend to hold a pretty stoic face in public, but I can usually get someone to smile – especially when I catch them staring at me and I smile back. I remind myself that despite the seemingly rock-faced facade and collective behavior of this culture, each individual desperately wants to be known for who he or she is created to be.
My neighbor matters to me, but so often I just want to shut down and go on automatic – as if I don’t matter to my neighbor. To be honest, it sometimes doesn’t seem like people matter, like when I almost get run over by a bus. It is infuriating every time, and my sense of justice gets all riled up, but I have learned to say, “that’s life in the big city!” The challenge is to go on and keep giving love to the bus drivers, who need it as much as I do.
Now, after this rather mundane blog post, perhaps you’ll still love me and read my next one!