Ten flights, seven cities, and three weeks in China

Roger Watson |

I return next month.

Blog by Roger Watson

The author learns about medical uses of donkey skins, visits a factory that makes clinical thermometers—liquid and digital—and visits the hometown of Confucius.

LUZHOU, Sichuan Province, China—As indicated in my previous post, I have been in China—twice—in recent weeks. When not flying, I’ve traveled by high-speed train and have been lucky to visit new places.

Roger WatsonHangzhou and Dong’e
Hangzhou was the first place I ever visited in China—more than a decade ago. It was great to be back to visit the same institution—the eponymous Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, affiliated with Zhejiang Medical University. (Click here to learn about Sir Run Run Shaw.) Established in the last century by American Seventh Day Adventists, the hospital has a regular stream of visitors from the United States. I was there to give a lecture on writing for publication.

After only one night in Hangzhou, I was aboard the train to Jinan in Shandong Province, a city I have visited often. Upon arriving, I was taken by car to Dong’e, a relatively small city, where I spent two nights and gave another lecture on writing for publication at a conference held at Dong’e Hospital. Ambitious for the hospital to rise in national ratings, administrators intend to accomplish that by attracting more international visitors and increasing its presence in high-quality publications.

Dong’e is the home of “e jiao”—pronounced ooh-jo—a traditional Chinese medicine extracted from donkey skins. According to information at the factory I visited, e jiao cures almost every ailment and maintains youth. My nursing colleagues testified to this, too. It often concerns me in China that the same person may advocate evidence-based practice on one hand while expressing faith in purported remedies that haven’t been subjected to rigorous testing. Nevertheless, e jiao is a major industry in Dong’e and the fate of many thousands of donkeys annually.

Roger WatsonAnother significant town industry is manufacture of clinical thermometers, and I visited the factory’s museum. They manufacture both liquid and digital thermometers. I was astonished to see that they still make liquid thermometers. Apparently, some of the more remote and poorer areas of the world still use them. The factory originally made mercury thermometers but with increasing concerns about the toxicity of mercury and its abolition from most parts of the world, they developed a nontoxic alloy as a substitute, which was used widely until the advent of digital thermometers. I could go on about thermometers for much longer. The guide at the factory did!

The highlight of my time in Shandong Province was a visit to Qufu (pronounced shoo-fo), the birthplace of Confucius (known in China as Kongzi). I had long wanted to make this visit and had booked it for the one free day I had. I bought a small wooden carving of Confucius to present to our Confucius Institute at the University of Hull. I returned to Hangzhou to give a lecture on research in advanced and specialist nursing practice at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Medical University before returning via Hong Kong to the UK.

Beijing, Changyuang, Kunming, and Luzhou
After a week at home, I returned to China, this time for two weeks. I spent a week in Beijing under the auspices of the Journal of Chinese Nursing Management. Together with local colleagues, I was invited to provide four days of seminars to clinical nurses on writing for publication. More than 100 nurses from across China attended. This was my longest stay in Beijing. In the evenings, with the help of one of the editors, I explored more of the city and especially enjoyed visiting the city’s historic hutongs—narrow lanes or alleys between rows of single-story, four-sided courtyards known as siheyuan.  

On the weekend, I visited Zhongzei Institute of Nursing Information to hear about their development of a workload measurement instrument and adoption of a nursing classification system known as the Clinical Care Classification, or CCC, system. The institute has developed a very large database and was seeking guidance on a publication strategy.

I next traveled by train to Changyuan in Henan Province. There I visited Henan Hongliv Hospital, where the CCC system is in use. After observing nurses using the system on the wards, I was given a “tour” of the data they were gathering. I was impressed and look forward to seeing some powerful articles generated that are based on that data, especially as the system rolls out across China.

After two nights in Changyuan, I flew to Kunming in Yunnan Province for one night, where I gave a lecture at the First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University. I had been told Kunming is beautiful—and it is. It’s green, the climate is constant all year—warm and dry—and there is no pollution. Everything went well except for getting completely lost for 30 minutes after my morning run. I showed my hotel card to several police officers to no avail until two locals, one with a map app on his phone, helped find my hotel.

The final days of my visit were spent in Luzhou, Sichuan Province, where, as a visiting professor at the Affiliated Hospital of Southwestern Medical University, I have reported from several times. I attended their annual conference and caught up with local colleagues.

I missed Easter with my family and all of my “Easter duties” as there is no Vatican-recognized Catholic church in China. I’ll be glad to get home and prepare for my next visit to China next month. RNL

Roger Watson, PhD, RN, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and a frequent visitor to Australia and China, where he has visiting positions, is editor-in-chief of JAN and editor of Nursing Open. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Watson’s former blog “Hanging smart.”

You can also listen to this post as a podcast.

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