KYCO students and faculty build relationships with Shanghai hospital

Experiencing another culture and learning from its health care practices are just some of the benefits four Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) students gained from their recent trip to China. The experience was led by KYCO Director of International Relations and Assistant Professor of Optometry Xiaojing Yu, Ph.D., O.D.

Initial planning for the trip included two spots for KYCO students. Yu knew the decision would be difficult given the number of applicants and her desire to give as many students as possible this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After a meeting with UPIKE President Burton Webb, Ph.D., two additional spots were added.

“I want to give special acknowledgment to President Webb’s office for its great support, paying two students’ international airfare,” said Yu. “Because of such generosity, more KYCO students were able to have this invaluable international experience. I also want to acknowledge Dr. Bacigalupi [KYCO Dean], KYCO faculty and staff and the international office for their guidance.”

With optometric care as the focus of the journey, students spent two weeks shadowing optometrists and ophthalmologists and working with patients.

“Optometry is a new and uprising field in China,” added Yu. “Through this educational trip, we were not only able to bring professional support, but our students had the opportunity to see a different way of patient management that will offer them diverse perspectives in their future careers.”

Students were notably impressed by the intentional design of patient care areas. The facility in which they learned and served included not only a 3D perceptional hallway, but also a museum used to teach children about the importance of eye care. 

Students also gained insight into how efficient the practices of optometrists and ophthalmologists must be to treat the large and growing patient population in the country.

With a successful inaugural trip behind them, KYCO students and faculty look forward to their continued relationship with China. It is the hope of Yu to coordinate future trips with more students and to develop exchange opportunities for both students in China and at KYCO.