By Lisa Setyon and Maggie Cai
Caught in between her passion for psychology and her parents’ desire for her to pursue Chinese medicine, Xie Baozhen (Emily), 19, let go of her dreams to make her family proud.
“I first wanted to study psychology, but my father wanted me to study traditional Chinese medicine, so I ended up applying for Beijing University of Chinese medicine,” Emily says.
But she has no regrets.
Born in southern Guangdong province, Emily has dreamed about traveling the world and meeting new people since she was a kid. Becoming a doctor, she says, will satisfy those desires.
“I want to travel,” Emily says. “People from different places have different diseases, and I want to help cure those diseases.”
Emily hopes to help make the Chinese medical system better. Although she is proud of her culture, Emily points to faults in the way things work. She explains that the price of medicine is unaffordable, and the countryside lacks good doctors. Most are not qualified or have no equipment, she adds.
Corruption is yet another problem.
“Many so-called doctors don’t try to cure the patients well, but to squeeze every penny and over treat for money,” says Emily.
Since she was a kid, Emily’s father has always taught her not to be part of the problems occurring in the medical system in China. he told her that one of the main ways to fix the problem was to train future doctors better.
“Ever since I went to college my father told me about the corruption in Chinese medicine and explained me that I should rather look into being a good doctor than chasing after money,” Emily says.
According to her, one of the largest faults in the Chinese medical system is how doctors are educated.
“I think the problem mainly results from the not well-educated doctors,” Emily says. “ Too many ‘doctors’ start working on the field for the wrong reasons. When more people will realize that, things will change. I want to be part of this change.”
Indeed, Emily is holding onto higher ideals.
“If you call yourself a doctor, you should treat your profession as a career, not a job,” she says. ”A job is to earn money, but a career means that you have to sacrifice yourself.”
Emily is an optimist who strongly believes that the way things are in China can change.
“I think China has a promising future, and as a traditional Chinese doctor, I think the culture is profound and has a long history,” Emily says. “Many cultures die but Chinese culture still exists. We have managed to mix the history of China with the modernization of china and I think it is very charming.”
Despite being a medical student for only two years, Emily has already put her knowledge into action. A couple of months ago, her dad had a urinary problem. Without visiting the doctor, Emily was able to use her knowledge of herbs to help heal her father.
“In medicine, I don’t think doctors always need needles to help people.”
Emily highly values Chinese medicine and sees a lot of benefits in its practice.
“There is something magical in Chinese medicine,” said Emily. “You combine nature and people together and you analyze various diseases; this is cool.”
Though valuing both methods of medicine, Emily finds the distinction between practices important.
“Chinese medicine concentrates more on the whole body and on the person rather than the disease itself. You might think you have a stomach ache, but it can come from something else,” says Emily. “Western medicine, on the other hand, concentrates more on specific parts and has to rely on modern ways.”
Even though the course has an emphasis on Chinese medicine, the teachers still place an importance on western medicine. Emily has always considered western medicine as effective as the Chinese one.
“I think that there is no comparison between these two methods,” she says. “Both system can help, while using different treatments. Western medicine uses needles and pills, while Chinese medicine uses formula, herbs and acupuncture. The ways are different, but both systems cure people and work well.”
Though she is constantly busy with schoolwork, Emily has found time to fall in love.
She started dating her boyfriend when she arrived at the medical university. Because they are both studying medicine, Emily thinks that her relationship has only grown stronger.
“We are both studying the same thing so I don’t think it is hard to combine relationship and schoolwork,” Emily says. “We often study together and help each other out, it is nice.”
Emily is a visionary and an enthusiast student who heartily believes that her love for people can change the future of medicine in China.
“I love people,” Emily says. “When I see them suffering, I feel sad and I really want to be a good doctor and cure the pain of the people; I want them to feel better.”
In spite of having six more years of studying, Emily has a plan for her future family life.
She understands the struggle of becoming a Chinese medical doctor and will not pressure her kids to follow her career path.
“When I have kids, I will tell them they should follow their heart and what they really want to do,” Emily says. “I won’t get in their way, I will just give them advice when they need it. I’m open-minded.”