For 26 Taiwanese graduate students and health care professionals, a week-long visit to the University — and to the United States — is an experience that will not soon be forgotten.

Taking place from July 23-27, the School of Public Health’s Department of Health Management and Policy is hosting the Institute of Health Management for members of the National Sun Yat-sen University. The focus of the program is to emphasize many elements of the U.S. health care system.

The NSYSU was established in 1980 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and contains six colleges that offer numerous programs for its undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

Among the visitors are physicians, surgeons, radiologists, occupational therapists, administrators and graduate students, with the majority of members being practicing professionals and administrators.

Christy Lemak — associate professor of health management and policy who gave a presentation covering the performance of health organization at the event — explained that the seminars range in topics from health care reform to quality of care.

“The week was designed to meet the expressed topical interests of the visitors,” Lemak said.

In addition to the program’s seminars, the visitors will have the opportunity to tour the University of Michigan Health System, the Detroit office of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and the Chelsea Retirement Community.

Jersey Liang, professor of health management and policy, is one of the leading faculty members for the program, along with Lemak.

Originally from Taiwan, Liang had not been to the United States until after he had completed his college education and began his graduate training. Liang currently has active research programs in Japan, China and Taiwan and frequently travels between East Asia and the United States.

It was Liang’s interaction in the countries where he has researched that began his passion for hosting international students and professionals in the U.S.

“Clearly, there is a very significant interest of people from other countries that would like to come to the United States,” he said.

Liang added that while he hosts students from countries like Taiwan, students from the United States are also showing an “overwhelming” interest in learning more about countries such as China and Japan.

Liang explained that the Public Health School has become more invested in programs like this week’s Institute of Health Management in recent years.

“I think the School of Public Health is very, very interested in making a significant investment in what we call the ‘Global Public Health Initiative,’ ” Liang said.

The long-term, strategic goal of the initiative would be to reach out to the University’s peer institutions abroad and establish relationships so that students preparing for careers in health care can become more exposed to other health care systems.

As for the future of such programs as Institutes of Health Management, Liang is optimistic that the Public Health School can expand its reach further, in coordination with other institutions. Additionally, programs may be held for longer periods of time, potentially for four weeks rather than just one.

“Strategically, there may be many possibilities,” Liang said. “It may be a mixture of web-based instruction, as well as, having (international students) come here periodically, and, at the same time, we could also send some of our students abroad.”

Liang cited the joint institute formed between the University’s College of Engineering and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University as an example of collaboration that the Public Health School is looking to follow.

“We see all of this as possible,” Liang said. “We would very much like to see something like this for the School of Public Health.”

Ying-Chun Li, an associate professor for the graduate program of health care management at NSYSU, led the group from their side of the program.

Li praised the University as an educational institution, adding that the visitors, including himself, were impressed by the campus and educational facilities.

“I think the University is a good place for students to learn,” he said. “That was one of the reasons why I brought the (NSYSU) students here this time.”

One requirement of the NSYSU’s Institute of Health Care Management is that students must spend a semester abroad with a partnering institution.

For students working full-time, like the students attending this week’s program, they are allowed to attend a much briefer program due to their demanding schedules.

Li said the on-site visits to UMHS were especially “eye-opening” for the students. He added that the seminars have provided a different, valuable perspective of the U.S. health care system.

Evelyn Huang, a surgical resident in Taiwan, said her time with the University has been a new and exciting experience.

“The lectures and visits are inspiring — we have new ideas and we’ll benefit a lot,” Huang said.

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