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China: Summer Abroad Public Health Programs

Program Description (July 1—July 24, 2019: Shanghai, Beijing, Jinan)

As China, the world's most populous nation, rapidly develops, there is an emerging concern for how it's already burdened health care system will be able to provide health services for over one billion individuals. In recent times, the Chinese public health system has gained worldwide attention from how it has dealt with the SARS epidemic, the HIV pandemic, and the avian flu. For students in the health field looking at China's past—unique concept of barefoot doctors, its present—the prevention and treatment of HIV, and its future—the growing incidence of chronic diseases, this program can provide them with a greater understanding of the health system problems and solutions that developing countries are currently facing.

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Video by Margarida Dalton, who took part in the 2017 Summer Abroad in China program.

A Partnership for Exploration and Learning

Participants in Tulane's China Public Health Summer Program have the unique opportunity to learn about China’s major health problems while examining comparative health systems and health economics. In addition, students gain first-hand knowledge from visits to hospitals, private clinics, and health departments as well as guest lectures from local Chinese experts and health practitioners.

This is a one-of-a-kind program, now in its 12th year,  allows all students, regardless of their academic major or language abilities, to learn in person about the urban and rural health systems of China in Shanghai and Jinan. Some of the major topics of interest that will be covered are China’s health system reform, the development of the rural Collaborative Medical System (CMS), HIV/AIDS programs and their progress, urban health insurance, disease control and prevention systems, and maternal and child healthcare systems.

The program is based at Fudan University's School of Public Health in Shanghai and closely collaborates with Shangdong University's School of Public Health. Students also spend time studying in the cities of Beijing and Jinan. There will also be opportunities for sightseeing excursions to other areas in the region.

This program is open to graduate and undergraduate students from Tulane University, and qualified students from other universities are welcome to apply as well.

The Program Academic Requirements

Both graduates and undergraduate students will be enrolled in our classroom course – Health Systems of China (see course descriptions below). During the second academic week, graduate students will complete a hands-on research project while undergraduate students will complete their 300/400 level Service Learning Requirement (SPHU-4892) at one of several healthcare organizations in Shanghai.

Following the classroom courses, all students will have the option to head to China’s capital city, Beijing for a week-long cultural immersion experience. In Beijing, students will partake in guided tours of various cultural sites such as the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City. Students also will involve themselves in cultural activities such as attending the Peking Opera, taking kung fu lessons, and visiting traditional hutongs to enjoy tea with some local residents.

Course Descriptions 

GHSD 6980/SPHU 4560 – Health Systems of China (3 Credit Hours): It is a well-known fact that China is the most populous nation in the world. But here’s a question for you: how the does a country—especially one in the midst of rapid economic development—provide health care to 1.3 billion people? Through this program, students will learn about China’s complex and fascinating healthcare system along with other healthcare systems around the world. During their coursework, students will be introduced to various aspects (cultural, social, economic, epidemiological) of the country’s healthcare system. Since the course will be delivered on location in China, the classroom lessons will be augmented through a series of field visits and real world observations. Further, China’s recent health reform strategies will be critically examined through directed readings, seminar lectures, and discussions with leaders of the Chinese healthcare system. The course also will examine the financing of the health care system and will evaluate and analyze how providers are incentivized and paid. To provide a comprehensive understanding of the health sector organization, students will visit a number of sites including primary care centers, tertiary hospitals, public health entities, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, and research organizations. Also, students will travel to areas in rural China to learn how health care is provided outside the country’s major urban areas. Graduate students will also be placed in various healthcare organizations to complete individual culminating field projects.

SPHU-4892-01 – Health System of China: An Applied Perspective: SPHU-4892-01 focuses on the application of student knowledge and skills into service delivery. Following the SPHU-4560 – Health Systems of China course, students are placed in teams of three (two Tulane students and one local Chinese university student) and are integrated into the daily operations healthcare organizations in the Shanghai metro area. Students will complete approximately 40 hours of work at their organizations.

The scope of work will include assisting local healthcare leaders, clinicians, and staff members to improve the overall experience of the patient at the various facilities. At some sites, students may assist in basic health provision (e.g., taking temperatures, blood pressure readings, other non-invasive laboratory procedures) or basic health education. At other sites, students may help pediatric, adult, and elderly patients to complete rehabilitation exercises and activities. Students may also help with operational issues in their facilities, such as assisting with supply procurement and improving patient flow through the system. Students may also be asked to conduct client needs assessments and other projects as needed in their healthcare organizations. Project deliverables may include surveys, handbooks, and data-driven recommendations on process and organizational improvements.

Service Learning Host Organizations

Our partner organization in Shanghai, Fudan University School of Public Health will assist in establishing the service learning sites and for providing local students to team with Tulane participants at each assignment. For 2017 the following organizations served as Service Learning sites:

  • Jiading Primary Health Center – Shanghai
  • Xu Hui Maternal and Child Health Center – Shanghai
  • Chang Qiao Community Health Center - Shanghai
  • Ruijin Diabetes Center

For more information about the program, please contact:
Dr. Thomas J. Stranova
Phone: 504-988-6758