Penn Medicine News Blog

August 26, 2015 // By Guest Blogger // Comments

An Eye-Opening Experience in China

Education // International Education // Ophthalmology

Christopher Magoon is a second year medical student who lived in rural China from 2011-2012 working for a rural education non-profit, after graduating from Yale University with a history degree.  He traveled back to China this summer to work at an eye hospital and shares his experience with us.  

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Two other ZOC members and Magoon discussing a report on diabetic retinopathy at a hospital training session two hours away from ZOC—Shaoguan, Guandong Provence, China. Credit: Christopher Magoon

As a second year medical student, the hospital still feels like foreign place.  Every time I enter the building, I am met with unfamiliar words, sights and smells.  This was especially true this summer, at Zhonghsan Ophthalmic Center (ZOC) in Guangzhou, China.  As a top-tier ophthalmic hospital, ZOC handles hundreds of thousands of patients each year, many of whom travel great distances to seek care.  More so, in interactions great and small--directly and indirectly--the people within ZOC also grapple with central questions facing modern China:  “How do you provide healthcare for 1.4 billion people?...In a socialist country?...With a capitalist system?”

I came to China to work with Nathan Congdon, MD, MPH, a professor of Preventative Ophthalmology at ZOC and a leading researcher in blindness prevention in the region whose work has been by featured in NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and Chinese State Television, among others.  With funding from Penn’s Global Health Program, I spent nearly two months living in Guangzhou, working with Dr. Congdon and his team. 

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