Creighton Welcomes Visiting Scholars

A husband and wife physician team will spend the next year at Creighton as part of a collaboration between the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, College of Nursing and the 3rd Hospital of Hebei Medical University in Shijiazhuang, China. The goal: To learn more about occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy in order to improve services back home.

“Any training in the U.S. is often seen as prestigious by professionals and the general public in China,” explained Keli Mu, Ph.D.,associate professor and chair of Creighton’s Department of Occupational Therapy. “But
China has an especially dire need for more rehabilitation professionals.

“To put it in perspective, the United States has approximately 133,000 licensed occupational therapists for 311 million people. China has several hundred licensed OTs for a population that exceeds 1.3 billion. And currently there is only one OT program recognized by the World Federation for Occupational Therapists in the entire mainland China,” Mu said.

Tao Zhang, M.D., a clinical resident with Hebei’s Orthopedic Institute, and Fang Han, M.D., a clinical resident with the hospital’s Department of Traditional and Western Medical Hepatology, hope to start to bridge that gap in Hebei when they return. To do so, they will audit a year of occupational therapy and physical therapy courses, as well as some interactions with Creighton’s College of Nursing and School of Medicine. They will also shadow clinical activities and observe administrative functions.

The collaboration stems from Mu’s work on the China Honors Interprofessional Program (CHIP), a cross-cultural program between Creighton and the Hebei Medical University and its affiliated hospitals in China. A group of
students and faculty travel to Hebei each year during fall break to provide training through symposiums, presentations and hands-on work. They also offer consultations and co-treat patients with Hebei’s attending physicians, nurses and rehabilitation therapists. In turn, the 3rd Hospital of Hebei Medical University will continue to send specialists to Omaha for a year-long immersion in rehabilitation.

Creighton’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and College of Nursing have signed an agreement to continue this program for five years. Creighton is also in discussions with Hebei Medical University to expand such collaborations to other health science schools. Mu is hopeful the partnership will last well beyond the contract.

“The American Occupational Therapy Association has called for a globally connected diverse workforce,” said Mu. “We believe that by maintaining and growing this relationship with our colleagues from Hebei, Creighton can be a leader in helping achieve this goal.”