Physical Examination in China

chinesedoctorThe following is a small excerpt from a book I may or may not be writing:
 
“A medical check up! Again? I only did one six months ago, can I simply not use that?” I said with some bemusement, with a dash of rising realisation. “No, its no longer valid as you can only use it once,” – came the swift yet damning reply. My crime? I had been home during a study break to see my family as well as get a new visa. My punishment? Another health check-up courtesy of the Chinese government, I sighed in resignation to my impending fate…
 
Okay – so my attempted dramatisation of a recent conversation I had in the China Study Abroad (CSA) office probably may not of had the desired effect intended, I wont be giving up day job to become a fiction author just yet, but there is a serious point article which is as follows.
 
So what is it all about? Every long term stay foreigner (more than 6 months) must complete a basic health-check at a government-designated hospital in China within 30 days of arriving and as part of their overall residency permit application. Its that simple. 
 
Is it something for new students to really worry about? No, not really, not unless you have serious chronic health issues but it can be a daunting experience to navigate your way to a very specific suburban hospital seemingly in the middle of nowhere, find the right building, register, do a series of tests, submit them, get home again and then return three to five days later to pick up the results. Especially if your Chinese is, like mine, very limited.
 
Luckily, we at CSA suffered through the confusion so you don’t have too. Despite my apparent and mildly counter productive scaremongering, we have simplified the procedure and sanded down the rough edges of Chinese bureaucracy. Essentially turning what was once a mandatory day of total confusion into at worst, a morning of slight inconvenience but more likely an awesome adventure into the unknown doing something you would not ordinarily get to do.

Allow me to give a fruitful example of one recent foray to the hospital where I myself was more than just shepherding new students there and back, but also a victim patient myself.
 
My journey began at 7:20am on a blustery Beijing morning with a empty stomach  as you are not allowed to eat breakfast before the examination. One short walk and bus ride later I found myself meeting one of our new students at Xi Er Qi Subway station (西二旗地). Unlike me, this was her first medical exam undertaken in China as it was her first long-term visit.
 
Another short bus ride and walk later, we found ourselves at our destination (albeit it took a friendly conversation from local neighbourhood guard to in fact confirm this). The reason for the horrendously early start soon became apparent as getting in as soon as the doors open (8:30am) means reduced queuing times and generally less waiting around.
 
After filling in a quick form, having my photo taken and paying the sum of around ¥350 rmb we were ready to begin. The medical exam is actually broken up into several sections:
·      Blood test.
·      X-ray.
·      ECG (cardio).
·      Sight and Oral examination.
·      Weight and height measurement.
·      Internal organ exam.
·      Blood pressure test.
 
If you are scared of needles, which I’m definitely not (lie detection isn’t part of the test), you might want to do this first. I did, despite being drained of two small philes of blood only mild no wincing could be heard and it was over within two minutes. Barely had I had time to pick up my coat when the doctor of the adjacent X-ray room came in and beckoned me towards her. A mere minute later that was done too with me being relieved to have been allowed to keep my shirt on this time. To clarify, during my last health check (at a different hospital in another city), the doctor insisted all the men remove their shirts when having an x-ray not only making me regret my mainly McDonalds diet but also causing mild embarrassment as I was not in a private room, in fact there were about half a dozen attractive nurses ‘overseeing’ the process all of whom let slip a slight giggle (cue a knee-jerk barely used gym membership). For the record, the women were allowed to keep their shirts on in all cases. 
 
Just ten minutes after the walking in through the door I was having my ECG done, I was asked to lay on a bed while a doctor painted my chest with what can only be described as cold white spirit. Incidentally she did not tell me it would be cold before administering it, instead mumbling “有点儿冷” (a little cold) as I yelped in shock.
 
With that done, I moved onto the sight and oral test (both in the same room). I did not even have time to sit down when the optician asked me to read aloud a letter (he literally asked me one question) then passed me onto his colleague who shone a mirror in my mouth and again passed me with little fanfare.
 
Weight and height measurement went without a hitch, as did the dreaded ‘internal organ exam’ which is just a doctor measuring your heartbeat and making sure your alive and not a half eaten zombie. 
 
Across the room was the blood pressure testing room and then on to freedom for I had finished the tests in a mere fifteen minutes as my fellow student and I were pretty much the first patients to arrive (it pays to be early).
 
The last sticking point of course came to the issue of coming back to collect the results, but it turns out CSA had that covered too. The hospital offers a ¥30 (courier) service. CSA’s very own Sofia had kindly provided me with a contact number and address, which I forwarded on to the man on the desk and that we were done. My jubilation was short lived as my rumbling stomach made me painfully aware that I had not actually eaten breakfast yet. It was at that point we made haste to the CSA office in Wu Dao Kou (五道口) and to a well deserved breakfast.
 
At China Study Abroad we'll always make sure someone will accompany you to get these body checkups done, so nothing to worry about as it is included in our 24/7 support.

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  • Beijing

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    3610 Capital Mansions,
    6 Xinyuan Nan Road, Chaoyang
    Beijing, 100027
    Phone: (+86) 10 8468 3799 
  • London

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    154 Bishopsgate
    London EC2M 4LN
    United Kingdom
    Phone: (+44) 0207 377 84 
  • Hong Kong

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    Rm 604-7 Dominion Centre
    43-59 Queen’s Road East
    Hong Kong
    Phone: (+852) 800 968 924 

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