Today was one of our busiest days yet! We had the pleasure of being hosted by the students and staff at Kaohsiung Medial University, one of the largest medical universities in Southern Taiwan. Our drive was not too long in the morning, and we arrived in due time for an introduction by several students and some administrators. We were told about the school and its numerous colleges (Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, and more) and got to ask the students about their experience there. Our next activity was a “clinical skill experiencing activity” with a doctor from the university. We were shown how to perform a laryngoscope – where a camera is inserted into a patient’s mouth and down their larynx in order to locate the trachea (which is right in front of the esophagus). Then, a tube may be inserted into the trachea in order to intubate the patient during respiratory distress.

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John and the doctor

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Intubation demonstration

The simulation room was very well-equipped, with a virtual monitor showing the model patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and many other vitals, and a software system that was able to simulate various emergencies (for example, a collapsed lung, or a blocked esophagus, etc.). After this, we had lunch in an empty classroom and got to bond more with some of the students from the university. A few of us went out with Steven, a dentistry student, who showed us where to buy the best milk tea in the area. We felt like locals! Next up in the afternoon was a presentation about Traditional Chinese Medicine given by a doctor who specialized in this field. We learnt about some theories in TCM including the yin-yang theory and what constitutes yin-yang imbalances in the body, as well as the meridian theory, which outlines numerous channels through which “Qi”, the energy of a living being, can flow. We also learnt about acupuncture, which serves to put pressure on certain points along the body’s meridians and stimulate the nerves there. We proceeded next to the university’s museum of medical archives, which was recently founded in 2014 and includes lots of interesting information about the early stages of KMU’s affiliated hospital – Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital. There are many artifacts and pictures recounting the English missionaries who first set up medical centers, and then the time of the Japanese rule, when many Japanese settled in Taiwan and developed diseases due to the tropical climate. This led to the foundation of tropical disease medicine research. Next, we moved to a boardroom where we received a presentation about “betel nut” – a very popular drug in Taiwan, and Asia in general. Betel nut is the 4th most commonly used drug in the world, and is chewed like tobacco but has similar effects to nicotine and caffeine. Next to rice, it is the 2nd biggest agricultural crop in Taiwan, and a booming industry. However, it is a growing cause for concern among doctors and health professionals, as it is a major cause of oral cancer. Our presenter then went on to discuss the major drawbacks of the research being done on betel nut right now, and why it has not been successful in illuminating the neurochemical basis for dependence and what can be done to prevent addiction.

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Betel nut

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VIP Waiting Lounge

Finally, our last scheduled visit of the day was to a VIP clinic in the Chung-Ho hospital. This is a very high-quality clinic with no wait-times that any Taiwanese citizen can choose to use if they pay 1350 NTD at each visit (about 55 Canadian dollars). It is only for outpatients, but clients can also choose to rent overnight rooms for about 500 Canadian dollars a night. Doctors do not have to work here, but if they decide to, they use overtime hours at this clinic on top of their regular hours. Patients have access to any type of specialist at this clinic.

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View from the VIP clinic