Since I’m with the M.A. program at the Hopkins Nanjing Center, I need to apply for a two year resident permit instead of the regular one year one. This means, I have the added burden of having to turn in a “Foreigner Medical Exam” form. Having anticipated this step for the better part of two months, I had one filled out when I went for my physical back in June. Unfortunately, Chinese regulations did not agree with my doctor’s opinion that I did not need to take a chest x-ray or ECG.
Let me explain the process of getting everything looked at and processed at the Nanjing Public Health Bureau. First, one must get on the line for document review. Having done that, you take your paperwork to the line for fee calculation. They take a look at whatever medical work the first reviewer has scheduled you for and charge you for the appropriate amount. With fee established, you move on to the final line and hand over the money. I was scheduled for a chest x-ray and ECG. This all took an insanely long amount of time since the number of applicants exponential exploded as the morning went on.1
For the chest x-ray, I was ushered into a bare room and pushed up against a large x-ray machine whereupon the doctor adjusted the x-ray targeting and promptly stepped out of the room, closing a heavy steel-looking door behind me.23 For the ECG, the doctor had me lie down and then attached several wired bracelets and plug-like things on me. This all felt very disconcerting as it seemed like I was about to be the recipient of some kind of massive shock. But I have to say, what made each of these procedures so…uncomfortable…feeling was the fact that neither doctor really said anything to me. It left me feeling a little confused about what I needed to do and what would happen to me during each procedure. The one doctor got a little frustrated with me because I didn’t stand correctly the first time he maneuvered me onto the x-ray machine. A second doctor got a little flustered because I tried to walk into her office for a ECG despite her having waved me out before. (I thought she was gesturing to the chairs outside her office. She wasn’t.) In both instances, had the doctors bothered to open their mouths and say something to the extent of “Stand facing the machine” or “Go to the next office over” I would have known immediately what I had to do. While I realize that these doctors probably see thousands of patients in a week’s time and don’t have the time to chat with patients, basic communication and instruction should still be required!
- This population explosion was probably due to the fact that the school year has just started and all us international students are all in the same position of needing a permit. [↩]
- My immediate thought was something along the lines of “…aren’t you supposed to put some kind of lead shielding on me?” My second thought was “Oh gosh…I feel like I’m in a gas chamber.” [↩]
- On the whole though, I was only really mildly worried about the lack of lead shielding, but a classmate told me afterwards that we are exposed to more radiation when flying in an airplane. Doesn’t that make you feel better? [↩]