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The 2017 U.S.-China Physician Leadership Forum Was Held in Beijing

The 2017 U.S.-China Physician Leadership Forum was held at Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China, on April 22. Dr. Yuanli Liu, President of the School of Public Health, indicated at the forum that it’s necessary to further improve Chinese physicians’ salaries and working environment.

According to Dr. Liu, physicians share heavy social responsibilities and provide a wide range of services. They not only provide medical service, including disease prevention, diagnosis, control and treatment, but also give patients humanistic care. When serious diseases break out, physicians who work on the front are often the first to get infected, sometimes even losing their lives.

Since medical schools are highly selective, it takes a long time for physicians to become well trained and enter the actual industry. Meanwhile, patients now can get medical information through various channels. To stay ahead of patients who can look up their own symptoms, it becomes necessary for physicians to pursue lifelong education. That brings more challenges for physicians.

The 2017 U.S.-China Physician Leadership Forum was held in, Beijing, China, on April 22.

The overall social environment is harsh for physicians. According to a survey conducted by the School of Public Health, Peking Union Medical College, more than half of physicians think the price of medical treatment doesn’t reflect its real value. More than a quarter of physicians are still paying the medical costs for their patients who cannot afford them. A total of 87% of physicians say they won’t let their children pursue medicine as a career; but 67.5% say they are willing to provide follow-up services for their patients. It can be seen in those statistics that for physicians, there is a conflict between self-interest and public interest.

But such a conflict should not lead to a “painful choice”, according to Dr. Liu. “There are many ways to make a living, and becoming a physician means sometimes you won’t get support and understanding from your own patients, and you should be prepared to sacrifice your life to save someone else,” he said. “If you don’t understand this, it would be better for you not to choose this career.” Additionally, Zhong Yuan, Professor of Peking Union Medical College says physicians, who should be respected, are not treated fairly in today’s changing medical system.

Therefore, physicians need more understanding and support from the whole society. “We should improve our whole medical system and protect physicians’ own interests.” Dr. Liu said this should be the key of next critical step in medical reform, and only a harmonious relationship between physicians and patients can lead to a “healthy China.”

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