Coming home from China- Part 1

China was an amazing experience. I spent four weeks from December 2nd until December 29th doing clinical rotations in Hangzhou, China. Hangzhou information In August of 2018, I applied to do four weeks of training at the Zhejiang International Exchange Center of Clinical Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

The adventure began early in the morning on December 2nd, 2018. My flight was from Philadelphia to Dallas and Dallas to Shanghai. The flight was a little over 14 hours from Dallas. The woman sitting next to me was a nurse conducting research. She had finished her internship with a hospital in Tyler Texas. She was married to a western trained doctor at a hospital in northern China. The conversation made for a great transition into a foreign land.

Zhejiang International Exchange Center of Clinical TCM

The hospital is the first affiliated hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University. The opportunity came via the Doctorate program at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Doctorate information The Doctorate training requires 187 hours of clinical rotations with seasoned Chinese medical doctors.

The program at Zhejiang International Exchange Center of Clinical TCM was a rigorous program. To learn more click here The main hospital is a very large building that is like most hospitals. There are two out-patient facilities that were around 7 floors high. There were some interesting differences. You can self register for treatment via a kiosk machine.

Hospital Registration Kiosks

Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of traditional Chinese medicine

The hospital specialized in facial paralysis. Most of the Doctors had assistants. The assistants were students at the Zhejiang college of traditional Chinese Medicine. Zhejiang College The assistants start clinical training in their third year of a five-year bachelor degree program. The assistant performs all adjunctive therapies. They do cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, electric stimulation and any other tasks the Doctors needed.

There are different types of health insurance in China. They have private pay that covers about 20-30%. Government employees may have coverage of up to 80-90%. Each Doctor or assistants took the payment for each treatment via an application on the patient’s phone. The doctors have their QR code. The patient would scan the QR code, and the doctor would set the charges, and the patient would put their phone on a scanner much like the TSA scanners.


A typical day was being at the exchange office by 8 am. We would walk over to the hospital or clinic by 8:30 am and would stay until lunch at 11:30 or 12 and return at 1:30 pm. We would be in the hospital or clinic until 5:30 pm or sometimes later. The days were packed full. Most days, we would see 40 patients before lunch and 40 patients after lunch. Since my cohort mate and I were there for four weeks, we had two two-week schedules. The first two weeks and the last two weeks were different doctors or areas that we had an interest in learning more about.

We trained with doctors of traditional Chinese medicine that specialized in areas ranging from internal medicine to pediatrics. The hospital was a blend of both western trained doctors and traditional Chinese medical doctors. The standard tests were available to everyone, blood work, x-rays, ct-scans, MRIs, etc…

Part 2 coming soon