Chinese Medicine Interest Group

The Chinese Medicine Interest Group (CMIG) is focused on addressing a critical need in the medical education of DGSOM students: effectively communicating and connecting with Chinese-speaking populations. Los Angeles is home to one of the largest populations of Mandarin-speaking patients in the United States, yet despite this, UCLA DGSOM does not have any formal opportunities to train future health professionals in medical Chinese. The three main goals of our interest group are to: Develop our communication skills with ethnic Chinese patients by learning how to speak native languages in an effective and culturally-appropriate manner Explore unique aspects of Chinese culture and perceptions, focusing on their influence on health and how this differs from Western culture Learn how to approach patients in a manner not taught in the classical curriculum at DGSOM through understanding the patients’ cultural backgrounds Connect medical students with immersive opportunities to learn and practice their Chinese communication skills First and most importantly, we aim to develop our communication skills. We will first focus on Mandarin, given that it is the most common dialect, and later move on to others. Since there will be a wide variety of skill levels among students, the group will be divided into skill levels, where beginning levels will be familiarized with basic vocabulary, grammar principles, pinyin (the romanization), and pronunciation. Higher levels will be fast-tracked to learning focused topics including medical history, interview, physical exam, vocabulary, and more. Content will be put together and taught by both UCLA DGSOM faculty and bilingual coordinators at meetings. Students can practice outside of meetings by pairing newer speakers with bilingual members. While communicating through native Chinese languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, etc.) is one of the primary focuses of the organization, CMIG aims to address unique cultural aspects and intersections of Chinese culture and health, including topics such as how ethnic Chinese people perceive blood pressure, express pain, mental health; how East and West medicine can be combined to optimize care; and epidemiologies of diseases and their specific manifestations within Chinese populations. We will accomplish this through lunch talks and presentations by collaborating with faculty of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine and practicing UCLA physicians who work closely with ethnic Chinese patients. Finally, we aim to provide clinical opportunities for students to experience first-hand the caring of ethnic Chinese patients, both in language and in the unique approaches and practices that are adopted to best care for these specific populations. One primary avenue will be through the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. Our mentor, Dr. Ka-Kit Hui, has already expressed interest in bringing about such opportunities to DGSOM students. Altogether, these three avenues will not only enhance students’ future medical careers no matter what field they go into through communication and culturally-competent care, but also stimulate interest and advocacy in important cultural aspects that are central to the care of ethnic Chinese patients.

Signatories: Eric Lin, Shangyang (Christopher) Yang, and Xin Qi

Advisor: Pamela R Cysner

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