In 2015, an exchange program was launched between Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and Anhui Medical University (AMU) (pronounced On-Qway) in Hefei, China. Since then, a group of five to six students majoring in clinical pharmacy, accompanied by one AMU faculty member, has come to NEOMED every year.
This is the second article in a series of reflections by Anhui students who spent the 2018-2019 academic year at NEOMED. Mengya Chen (Selma) contributed this reflection.
In contrast to our preconceived notions that the life in the U.S.A is freewheeling and uninhibited, the studying life of the pharmacy students is intense and serious at NEOMED.
Although the class atmosphere seems relaxed and students can ask questions at any time, this kind of relaxed does not mean casual. Compared with what we experienced in China, the schoolwork burden here is much heavier and the requirements for both the teachers and students are stricter.
The AIMS platform provides almost all the teaching information online, including the syllabus, course settings and requirements, contents, announcements and assignments. Moreover, any update or change in the platform is sent to every student via email automatically. Thanks to this advanced information, we can preview the materials before class and schedule our time more efficiently.
The diversity of the teaching process is also beyond our imagination. In addition to the regular lectures, we get more to know new and advanced teaching methods including problem- or case-based teaching, in-class questions and group discussions. Moreover, we are curious whether the students are bored with the frequent formal or informal tests.
The listening and speaking disadvantage makes it difficult for us to understand the course content smoothly and rightly. However, thanks to the help from others and our own diligence, we have gained a lot from the process full of challenges, experiencing the American university culture and improving our professional knowledge and skills.
Confucius, the greatest Chinese sage, once said, “Learning without reflection is useless, and thought without learning is perilous.” Consistently, the American teaching process also emphasizes the organic unity of learning and reflection. In addition to the regular homework, some courses include the assignment of reflection. It is no doubt that writing reflection is one of the biggest challenges we faced. It requires us not only to fully understand the studying content itself, but also absorb and organize our thoughts and comments logically and rationally.
Teamwork is a key emphasis in the whole studying process. For some courses, the students are divided into different groups. Those lists can be found in AIMS in advance. Group discussion and summarization is done according to the assigned case or questions.
Presentation is just one form of reflections to the value of teamwork. During the process, the professors will provide the thesis and the team members must explore the materials and cooperate with each other.
Finally, the groups present their summarization in class using PowerPoint. The total score depends on the performance of the whole team, but not the individuals. Although it is difficult for us, we tried our best and finished the first presentation in our college life.
Last but not the least, the association between theory and practice are embodied everywhere in the teaching process. Compared with what we experienced in AMU, there is longer rotation time and more case reports at NEOMED.
Confucius has also said, “Isn’t it a pleasure to learn and persist?” Although facing numerous difficulties and challenges, we are enjoying the studying life in NEOMED and we believe that we will gain improvement soon.