The Second Affiliated Hospital Zhejiang University (SAHZU) is a nonprofit tertiary-care public hospital that cares for a staggering four million patients and performs about 130,000 surgeries per year, situated in the large metropolitan city of Hangzhou, China. I was one of the fortunate UCLA residents who had the opportunity to visit the hospital in 2019 for a one-month rotation. I was able to witness first-hand the incredible efficiency and work ethic of the Chinese physicians in taking care of their vast numbers of patients, both in the operating room and in the pain management clinics. I have a personal interest in cardiothoracic anesthesia, and the department was able to arrange for me to be in several cardiac and thoracic cases throughout my rotation.
During my visit, not only was I actively participating in patient care, including line placements for surgery, intubations, and transesophageal echocardiography, I was also able to teach medical students basic intubation skills, give a talk to the anesthesia department about pulmonary hypertension, and provide feedback on manuscripts and residency education. Although my ability to speak Chinese is lacking, particularly with medical vernacular, everyone at the hospital was more than eager to help translate or help me navigate both in and out of the operating room.
My time in the hospital was extremely enjoyable and enlightening, and I also had the opportunity to engage in cultural immersion in my spare time. There, in the very city in which I resided, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, West Lake. Residents took me hiking along the famous longjing (“Dragon Well”) tea fields. I experienced the high-speed rail during my trip to Shanghai, where I discovered one of the most unique city skylines. I walked the mesmerizing bridges and alleys of the ancient water town Wuzhen, built along the Yangtze River. As it was my first time ever visiting China, despite the distance I could not pass up the chance to travel to Beijing to climb the Great Wall, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. I hiked a portion of the Great Wall that was partially restored and partially wild. It was one of the most challenging hikes I have ever completed, but an incredibly beautiful and unforgettable experience. I visited as many historical landmarks and ate as many Chinese specialties as I could get my hands on.
The generosity and kindness of the Chinese people I met in Hangzhou, and throughout my travels, were genuine and truly remarkable. China has such a long and rich cultural history that could be felt in every aspect of daily life. As a visitor, I could only begin to appreciate it all. I am extremely thankful to our department and program leadership for offering this opportunity. I am also tremendously grateful for the doctors and staff at SAHZU for receiving me so warmly, and allowing me to grow personally and professionally from this experience.
Photos, from top: Dr. Yin teaching intubation at SAHZU; Insiide a SAHZU operating room; Dr. Yin, right, hiking the Great Wall; The ancient water town Wuzhen.