International Studies & Programs

Learned about alternative medical practices

I did not know much about acupuncture beforehand, but I learned it is a popular form of alternative medicine in South Korea.

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Published: Wednesday, 13 Dec 2023 Author: Viji Jambunathan

Viji standing in front of temple in Korean dressThis education abroad experience helped me learn more about surgery, surgical oncology, and Korean medicine. I had never observed a surgery prior to this program, so it was an amazing opportunity to scrub into surgeries and learn from physicians at a world-renowned institution. Further, before my education abroad experience, I knew that South Korea had a high prevalence of gastric adenocarcinoma (stomach cancer), but I was really surprised to learn that South Korea also has very high rates of papillary thyroid carcinoma (thyroid cancer). In fact, thyroid cancer is one of the most common cancers in South Korea, while it is rather uncommon in the United States. I was able to watch two thyroidectomies (thyroid removal surgeries) and learn from a thyroid surgeon about this condition and procedure at SNUH.

Further, by attending the conference and tour hosted by Jaseng Hospital, I was able to learn more about complementary and alternative medicine practices in South Korea. I did not know much about acupuncture beforehand, but I learned it is a popular form of alternative medicine in South Korea. I met an acupuncture student during our tour of Jaseng Hospital, and it was very informative to speak to him and learn more about how acupuncture is used in South Korea.

In addition to learning more about medicine and surgery, Viji and two friends all dressed in Korean dresses in front of templeI enjoyed sightseeing in South Korea as well. It was a truly immersive experience to dress in a traditional Hanbok with all my peers and tour the Gyeongbokgung Palace. I enjoyed shopping in Insa-dong and Gangnam, going to aesthetic cafes in Ikseon-dong, hiking up Inwang mountain, and seeing a stunning night view of Seoul from the top of Namsan Tower. I was also fortunate to take the incredibly efficient KTX bullet train from Seoul to Busan, a busy port city in South Korea. In Busan, I was able to see the famous Haeundae Beach and meet nursing students who had actually visited Michigan State in January 2023. We were able to discuss the differences in our education and learn from each other, which was an enlightening experience.

Overall, I had an amazing experience in South Korea and would wholeheartedly recommend this program to other medical students. I enjoyed observing surgery and learning from the esteemed physicians at SNUH as well as learning from the Korean Medicine doctors at Jaseng Hospital of Korean Medicine. Further, I cherished the opportunity to see various sites in Seoul and Busan and meet healthcare students in South Korea to learn more about the education process. I learned more about navigating a brand new environment communicating with individuals who did not speak the same language as me. I am thankful for the opportunity to have attended this program, and I truly appreciate the donors to the scholarship that helped fund my travels.

Name: Viji Jambunathan
Status: Graduate
Major: Osteopathic Medicine
Hometown: Troy, Michigan
Program: Global Health: South Korea - Clinical Immersion