Waiting for you@Hainan FTP⑤|Doctor Tim's Chinese dream in Hainan
News source:hihainan / By Xu Shenglan, Jin Nannan,Wu Xingcai, Han Han / 05 03,2020 11:54:00 / Foreigners in Hainan

Lara: Today we are here at the consultation room of Doctor Stephens. So Doctor Stephens, could you please introduce yourself to us?

Tim: Yes, thank you Lara. Hi! My name is Tim Stephens, I am an American family physician from Boston area. I’ve been working here in Haikou People’s Hospital International Primary Clinic for the last 7 years. 

Lara: As an American doctor, what is the key difference of working here in China and America?

Tim: There are a few differences. The first thing is people are more familiar and comfortable with traditional Chinese medicine here, and actually many of my patients use both western and Chinese medical treatment. As a western doctor, I need to have an open mind. The second thing is that many patients in China don’t have their own doctor, whereas many people in America have family doctor. But in China that is a new concept for many people. Another thing that surprises me is the medical system here in China. I’m surprised at people’s capacity of doing things efficiently. For example, in America, I might order a test or refer to a specialist or consultant. The patient might wait for several days or weeks. But in China, we can get medical treatment within a day, so the work efficiency in China is much better than the U.S., which benefits me a lot in China. Because it means we can reduce some delays and provide medical treatment for patients in time.

Lara: Did you meet some language barriers when you were treating your Chinese patients?

Tim: Yes, and it was funny at the beginning. When I first came to China, I have very little Chinese language abilities. So I really relied on my colleagues to help me translate. Every time when we saw patients together, we would translate back and forth. But it was easy to lose some information in translation. As my language ability gets better, it becomes much better for me to communicate with local people and learn their stories, and I can get deeper understanding of Chinese culture. There are different views in terms of eastern and western ways of viewing the body. So it’s really a good learning experience for me to see how people view illness and treatment. I can better understand their needs, and we can figure out a better way to solve the problems.

Lara: During this epidemic period, are there any breakthroughs or highlights made in medical field?

Tim: Yes. As a family physician, I not only think about my individual patients but also think about the community that I’m serving. During this period, I can have the opportunity to give lectures or answers to the international community, which is a great chance for me to communicate with people and provide some public health education for people. This is a good experience for me even though I can’t offer direct medical service to the people with COVID-19, I can still be engaged in a broader community. And I think for many years, people have talked about the potential of tele-medicine and online consultation, but this kind of technology was not used very often in the past. I think that would be a step of going forward, and people can have a better understanding of this technology.

Tim: It’s a special time, and we still need to be vigilant. Apart from preventing, we should also pay attention to the news, because China has done such a good job of providing open information about new cases being reported, making public aware of the current situation. I think Hainan has also done a very great job in control and prevention.

Lara: Hainan is constructing a top Free Trade Port with world-class medical standards, yet a lot of efforts need to be paid to make improvements. So what is your advice to improve medical treatment to realize the goal?

Tim: This is a key part of the Free Trade Port development. The international business community and many scientific experts and scholars might come to Hainan to do research or explore collaboration. I am impressed by the great progress that has been made in the medical field in Hainan, not only in new technology and new treatments but also the awareness of international standards of care. I think we should not only provide high-quality care, but also offer the care in a way that is familiar to the people come from overseas countries, especially western countries that have their own medical systems. Another opportunity for Hainan is the Boao Lecheng Medical Tourism Pilot Zone, and a number of hospital facilities have been constructed there. I think that would be great for many experts to do research. I think if the Boal Lecheng can provide unique medical care service that cannot be found in other areas, Hainan will have more opportunities to develop in this field.

Lara: Recently, the Hainan Free Trade Port has posted a series of global talents recruitment, and there are job positions for nurses and doctors. What advice can you give to the foreign people who want to work in medical field in Hainan?

Tim: First of all, I think for the people who want to broaden their cultural horizons and are interested in both eastern and western medicine, that would be a great opportunity for them to develop their career in Hainan. The other thing is that the local people here are very friendly, and you can also enjoy beautiful environment and have a high-quality life here. I can make a perfect balance between work and life, which is the most attractive thing for many people.

Lara: Would you like to share the stories of your family? What kind of roles do your family members play in your life?

Tim: I met my wife in my university, and she was learning Chinese at that time. It was her summer workshop in China that made her fall in love this country and the people. We decided to come to China before getting married. It was a dream for us to come to China at that time, and it took over 10 years for us to prepare to realize this dream. What we affirm is that coming to China is definitely a right decision for our family. Our two older boys were born in America, and they came to Hainan with us when they were very little. So they grow up here, and they regard Hainan as their home. Our youngest boy was born in Hainan, so he spends his entire life here. It's very pleasant to see the boys talking with local classmates in Chinese, and they even learn some Hainan dialect. So the life in Hainan is really enjoyable.

Lara: It's been a great pleasure and honor to interview Doctor Tim Stephens today. Doctor Stephens means so much to foreign community and the local community here in Hainan. I’m impressed by his healing words and his general concern for all the people. So we are here waiting for you at Hainan Free Trade Port!

Tim: Thank you, Lara! It’s been a pleasure to talk with you today. I hope to see you all here in Hainan. You don’t have to wait and find me in the hospital, I would be happy to meet you on the beach or in the park where I might walk with my family. We welcome you to Hainan Free Trade Port!

Doctor Tim Stephens works in Haikou People's Hospital. [Photo/Wu Xingcai]

Doctor Tim Stephens is working with his Chinese colleagues. [Photo/Wu Xingcai]

Doctor Tim Stephens is communicating with his patients in Chinese. [Photo/Wu Xingcai]

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