Friday, 28 December 2012

Chinese students sent to Nebraska to study medicine

Yang Hu is one of a select few students sponsored to study medicine in the US
by Paul Goodsell
Yang Hu is one of the first Chinese students chosen to enroll in the special program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Going to an American medical school is more than a great opportunity for Yang. The program she joined is also a source of pride for UNMC and an example of the med center's growing international reputation.
While thousands of Chinese students already are at American medical schools for doctoral programs, research or short-term clinical rotations, the UNMC program is different. Only in Omaha does the Chinese government pick up the tab for its students to earn a four-year U.S. medical degree or a similar professional diploma in fields like pharmacy or physical therapy.
Besides bringing in tuition revenue, university officials say, they hope the students will establish relationships with UNMC that could lead to future research partnerships and other ties with China, the economic powerhouse that is expected to continue its rapid growth and increasing influence in the coming decades.
“These students will be leaders of Chinese health care,” said Jialin Zheng, a UNMC professor who heads UNMC's Asia Pacific Rim development program. “They will be ambassadors to future collaborations.”
For now, however, they are merely 20-something students wrestling with rigorous coursework, language challenges and an unfamiliar culture.
Yang and her fellow Chinese students have had to adjust to a different educational system and adapt to the American approach to health care.
They have stared blankly at American restaurant menus, worn costumes to Halloween parties and spent Thanksgivings with new Nebraska friends.
One is exploring Christianity after growing up as an atheist. Several have learned to drive.
The experience has “really helped me to broaden my horizon,” said Xin Zhang, a 26-year-old physical therapy student from Xi'an.
Xin and Yimei Huang, a pharmacy student from Chengdu, started at UNMC in 2011. This year, Yang and Lei Yu from Chengdu both entered the medical school.
The scholarship program is one element of the Shanghai-U.S. Health Science Initiative formalized in August when Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman was in China on a trade mission. UNMC officials describe the broader pact as one of the most extensive partnerships between U.S. and Chinese academic institutions.
UNMC Chancellor Harold Maurer said the med center has ties with China that are envied by top U.S. universities. At a recent meeting with leading U.S. medical schools and the Chinese government, he said, “it was clear that UNMC is probably one of the best known U.S. institutions in China.”

Other schools such as Duke University asked the Chinese about why they were working so much with Nebraska, Maurer said. The answer: UNMC takes good care of its Chinese students and teaches them well. In addition, the Chinese noted, it doesn't cost as much to go to school in Nebraska.
With the new program, university officials have begun slowly, carefully selecting students for their English language ability and above-average test scores.
When fully implemented, there will be 10 new students arriving in Omaha each August — two in each of five areas: medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, dentistry and nursing.
Read more: World Herald

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