The Far East and a bridge too far

Roger Watson | 06/15/2018

RNL’s bridge-running, continent-connecting globetrotter provides an update.

Roger Watson: Connecting continents
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT—Viewed from the outside, China can seem impenetrable and daunting. My most recent visa application was initially refused because I was an editor-in-chief and thus, in their view, a journalist. “Face” (mianzi) prohibits Chinese officials from backing down—demonstrated in my phone call with the embassy—but a solution always arises. In this case, a letter from my publishers at Wiley confirmed my status but assured them I was not there to write or report as a journalist. They also explained that JAN is an academic journal, not a newspaper. In the future, I must ensure that letters of invitation make no mention of my editorship.

Roger WatsonNext problem: I had been asked to give a “lecture” at a conference, and this was not permitted. Lecturing is a job and requires a work permit. The compromise? I was permitted to give a “speech.”

My visit to China, my second this year to the Far East, lasted a little over 24 hours. The bureaucracy left me with a dark cloud over my head but, as always when I enter China, the doubts and fears dissolved when I received a welcoming smile from the immigration officer at Beijing airport and was greeted with a wave at the arrivals lounge by my very enthusiastic helper. Her enthusiasm wasn’t dampened by the fact I had been delayed by monsoon rains for two hours in Hong Kong and it was already past midnight. I got to bed in the Beijing Hilton at 2 a.m. only to rise again a few hours later for the next stage of the journey. Later in this post, I’ll tell you what I was doing in China.

This Far East visit began in Taiwan, where I was visiting China Medical University (CMU) in Taichung for the second time. It was the 60th birthday of the university, and I was asked to give two lectures at the School of Nursing. I spent three days in Taichung, managed to fit in some early morning running in the parks, and was looked after very well.

Roger Watson and colleagues at China Medical UniversityMy very good friend Lian Hua Huang, PhD, RN, FAAN, former head of nursing and former head of the Taiwan Nurses Association, is now chief executive officer for nursing at CMU. It’s a new post with responsibility for overseeing and integrating nursing across the university’s campuses and associated hospitals. Huang also represents her region in Geneva, Switzerland at the International Council of Nurses. A tour de force of Taiwanese nursing, she is always busy but always has time not only to meet me but to take me to my favorite restaurants. On the return journey, I spent a day in Taipei catching up with several old friends before leaving for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong
Most of the next week was spent in Hong Kong serving on several Hong Kong University Grants Committees: the General Research Fund, the Early Career Researcher Scheme, and the Prestigious Fellowships Awards Committee. I do not serve, as you may assume, on the medical panel where nursing research is considered, but rather on the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Committee, to which many nurses also submit applications. We deal with a fascinating spectrum of topics, ranging from archaeology to design. I nod sagely at the appropriate times until something I understand is tabled.

The committee work is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the work we do. In January, we are presented with the complete list of nearly 200 applications and asked to indicate our preferences. After they are allocated in February, we spend four months finding reviewers and conducting our own reviews. The work is not easy, but it is a great pleasure, and it’s a privilege to spend three days with some of the top scholars from some of the top universities across the world, e.g. Harvard, Berkeley, UCLA, and Oxford.

I was in China at the invitation of the Chinese Nursing Management Journal, which, along with two other journals, is published by the Chinese Association of Nursing Managers. I gave the opening keynote on challenges for nursing management at the 2018 China Nursing Management Conference in Tianjin. I think it was a record audience for me—3,000 people. Not spoiled for choice regarding topics, I selected: the scope of the role; the ageing nursing workforce; demonstrating cost-benefit of nursing; and leadership training.

Tianjin is 30 minutes from Beijing by high-speed train. These trains are wonderful! They travel at 300 kilometers per hour, but the movement is barely perceptible. The longest trains have 16 carriages and, at what I call the “pointy ends,” four-berth business class carriages rival in comfort anything offered by most airlines. My visit to Tianjin was too short to explore the city. Just over 24 hours after arriving, I rose early to take a direct flight from Tianjin to Hong Kong, from where this blog entry is submitted.

In my previous entry, I mentioned I was preparing to run in a 10-kilometer race over the Humber Bridge and back. It is the second longest suspension bridge in the world. (The longest is here in Hong Kong.) I did not do too well. It was very hot and, despite lots of running, I had not done enough training—specifically, not enough hill training. For anyone who thinks bridges are flat, try running the Humber. Suspension bridges have slopes at both ends, and I felt every one of my 62 (and a half) years as well as my lack of hill training. That will be remedied over the rest of the summer. 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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