Taiwan helps train doctors from allies through scholarship program

From Taiwan Today 2020-04-13
The government-funded scholarship program at ISU aims to train the next generation of medical professionals from diplomatic allies. (Photo courtesy of ISU)

The government-funded scholarship program at ISU aims to train the next generation of medical professionals from diplomatic allies. (Photo courtesy of ISU)

I-Shou University in southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City is training international students from the country’s diplomatic allies to help cultivate the next generation of medical professionals.

Under a government-funded scholarship, qualified young people from Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific earn a bachelor’s degree in medicine. The initiative is aimed at strengthening health care expertise and service delivery in target nations.

Enrollees in the School of Medicine for International Students who have finished the second year of the program take their medical oaths before beginning the clinical clerkship portion of their degree. (Photo courtesy of I-Shou University)

Enrollees in the School of Medicine for International Students who have finished the second year of the program take their medical oaths before beginning the clinical clerkship portion of their degree. (Photo courtesy of I-Shou University)

Launched in 2013, the scholarship is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and overseen by Taipei City-based International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF), the country’s foremost foreign aid organization. Participants attend the ISU School of Medicine for International Students, a division of the university’s College of Medicine established specifically for the initiative.

Scholarship recipients participate in rounds at E-Da Hospital, which is located near I-Shou University. (Photo courtesy of I-Shou University)

Scholarship recipients participate in rounds at E-Da Hospital, which is located near I-Shou University. (Photo courtesy of I-Shou University)

“Increasing the number of doctors in diplomatic allies is a more effective method of providing aid than sending medical missions,” said Liang Cheng-loong, an associate chair of SMIS and chief of the Department of International Medicine at E-Da Hospital. “Sustainable health care development requires a steady supply of well-educated medical professionals.”

Liang Cheng-loong (right), an associate chair of SMIS and chief of the Department of International Medicine at E-Da Hospital, promotes the medical program at ISU along with fellow associate chair, Chen Yun-ju.

Liang Cheng-loong (right), an associate chair of SMIS and chief of the Department of International Medicine at E-Da Hospital, promotes the medical program at ISU along with fellow associate chair, Chen Yun-ju.

All of the lessons in the SMIS curriculum are conducted in English, with the exception of mandatory Mandarin language classes. In the final two years, students complete clinical clerkships through participating in rounds and outpatient care at one of two nearby health care facilities, E-Da Hospital and E-Da Cancer Hospital.

Both institutions, along with ISU, are affiliated with Kaohsiung-based conglomerate E United Group. According to Liang, the clerkships offer invaluable practical experience in a range of clinical fields.

Scholarship recipients participate in Mandarin language classes. (Staff photo/Huang Chung-hsin)

Scholarship recipients participate in Mandarin language classes. (Staff photo/Huang Chung-hsin)

Among the recipients was David Alfred from the Marshall Islands. “The experience of studying at ISU was fantastic,” the 26-year-old said. “The university’s well-developed curriculum offered a great balance between classroom and clinical instruction,” he added.

After finishing his one-year internship at Majuro Hospital in the Marshall Islands, Alfred said he wants to help treat patients with complications from diabetes, a major public health concern in the Pacific island nation. “There’s a serious lack of doctors to deal with these issues, so I want to become a surgeon and help alleviate this shortage,” he said. (E) (By Kelly Her)