STUART-It’s a rare occasion when three college students from Hong Kong visit your office and spend the entire day with your staff. Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic in Stuart experienced it twice this month. Three graduate students from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University stayed five days in the United States for a class presentation.

Gladys Chan visited the United States for the first time when she came to VIM in Stuart. She’s pursuing a Master of Science in nursing. Gladys aspires to become a nurse educator. Through these efforts she will try to change the health care system in Hong Kong for the indigent. She learned several unique things about the concept of the VIM Clinic; such as taking care of patients at no charge and learning about nurse practitioners.

Gladys shadowed Alan Eddison, DNP, ARNP, for the entire day. Her project is about the American culture and whether the nurse practitioner role can be applied in Hong Kong.

“It’s such a great experience because this is different from Hong Kong. They’re no nurse practitioners, it’s just nurses and doctors, nothing in-between,” said Gladys.

In Hong Kong, public hospitals provide care for those without health insurance for a flat fee. The public hospitals are open to all citizens, it cost the Hong Kong government nearly 3% of GDP. Private hospitals, mainly used by the wealthy and other health care services brings the total cost to about 6% GDP.

Chan Tak Yin and Lau Nga Yi were the other two students. Chan was amazed after observing VIM in Stuart. She didn’t expect the patients to be treated with the level of care that was given. There is something similar in Hong Kong, but the quality is not the same.

Gladys Chan during her visit to VIM

“VIM is a really good model. We like volunteer work and caring for people. I like it more than work because it brings happiness to help those in need,” said Chan.

The public hospitals in Hong Kong provides low quality care, says Chan. There are several people who aren’t able to afford the health care cost. These people qualify for the comprehensive service in Hong Kong, which means they can receive services free of charge. Chan says, even though there’s no cost, the citizens still need a better system. It’s the reason why she decided to pursue health care as a career.

The VIM Clinic in Stuart provides free health care for uninsured Martin County residents. Individuals must have an annual income of $24,120 or less. For more information call 772-463-4128.