Ready, Set, GUSTO!

Today we officially held the training conference for the 6 partner county-level hospitals that are helping us carry out our study of patient counseling. The purpose of the study (codenamed “GUSTO”) is to see if patient counseling for cataract patients during screening outreach sessions can improve their willingness to accept surgery.

Things I learned from today’s meeting:

1) No matter how prepared or well memorized your speech is, standing in front of doctors and nurses as an undergrad with mediocre Chinese is bound to make you nervous enough to forget crucial lines.

2) On the other hand, when everyone’s looking at you and you have no script, the impromptu Chinese somehow manages to tumble out.

3) Unless your project is simple enough to consist of one form and could be carried out by trained monkeys (mine unfortunately can’t), walking a room full of people through the process can only result in lots of glazed-over eyes. It’s necessary. But you better follow up individually with each doctor, walk them through the process again, make sure they understand the key points.

4) You can’t just tell people to “practice counseling with the person next to you” and expect them to jump enthusiastically into it. They think it’s silly. I’m still trying to figure this one out.

5) And finally, an unproven hypothesis: better to be the foreigner who stands out with his awkward Chinese but lively personality than one more Chinese student who fades into the background.

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