East Meets West
One Student’s Journey to Fully Understanding the Human Body
Jinpu Li is not your average graduate school student. Not only does the Tri-6 Logan student have another degree, but he has seven years of experience practicing as a medical doctor in Shanghai, China.
Jinpu will soon belong to a unique group of doctors—educated in both chiropractic and allopathic medicine— who are using their knowledge to create more integrated model of health care.
“What makes chiropractic unique is that this profession emphasizes the influence of the nerve system on the general health of our body and treats patients with less aggressive approaches, such as adjustments, nutritional consultation, natural supplements, exercise and acupuncture,” he said. “I think chiropractic will broaden my scope of practice and help me to see my patients from different perspectives.”
A curiosity for chiropractic
Growing up in Fujian and Shanghai, China, Jinpu always had an interest in medicine and strong desire to take care of his family. Jinpu was one of 25 students accepted into an annual seven-year program designed by Fudan University and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to train doctors in both western and Chinese medicine.
After graduating in 2002, Jinpu worked in the integrated Chinese and western medicine department of Shanghai No. 6 People’s Hospital at the medical school of Shanghai Jiaotong University.
“I enjoyed Shanghai and enjoyed the practice, but something I was often reminded of was a book written by Dr. Andrew Weil on self healing that I read long before in high school,” he said. “It was about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and it actually mentioned Dr. D.D. Palmer treating people. This was my first introduction to chiropractic.”
After seven years in the medical field, Jinpu decided to advance his knowledge in an area that had been fascinating him since his adolescence. “I started searching online to see what I could find about alternative and complementary medicine.”
Based on what he discovered, Jinpu was motivated to advance his own education in chiropractic, but the opportunity to learn more about chiropractic in China did not lend itself to those interested. Around the time he was considering chiropractic school, Jinpu met Dr. John Zhang, an associate research professor from Logan College of Chiropractic/University Programs.
Dr. Zhang, who received his medical degree from the Third Military Medical University in Chong Qing, China, practiced internal medicine for eight years at the Norman Bethune International Peace Hospital and Hebei Medical College. Inspired by Dr. Zhang’s career path and interest in chiropractic, Jinpu made the decision to pursue a chiropractic degree, and in 2009, Jinpu traveled more than 7,000 miles in what would be his first trip to the United States.
A more complete picture
Immersed in his studies at Logan, Jinpu says the education curriculum is intense, but fascinating. Additionally, he is finding that chiropractic medicine and allopathic medicine are not all that different.
“We just approach it from different perspectives,” he said. In the chiropractic model, Jinpu said chiropractors are more likely to gain a complete picture of the body. He said that approach is quite different than what he was taught in medical school.
Jinpu uses the example of a tree to explain how he views allopathic medicine and chiropractic. He said chiropractic is like the trunk of a tree and allopathic is like the tree’s branches and leaves. While allopathic medicine focuses more on detailed treatment, like the individual branches and small leaves, chiropractic approaches treatment using a full-body approach, much like the body, or trunk, of a tree.
Jinpu said to have a solid understanding of both methods and approaches allows physicians and practitioners to make the best choice for their patients. “The more research we have into one area, the better we can communicate with allopathic physicians and patients,” he said. “What has always been important in my practice is making a diagnosis and deciding how to treat it. The diagnosis is always the same; the difference is how you treat that patient, and you need to be as informed as you can and make the decision based on the best interests of that patient.”
A broader perspective
Jinpu said while he misses the people in Shanghai and practicing medicine, he has enjoyed meeting patients and watching them get well. He also said the supportive network of people at Logan has helped him adjust to his new life as a student, which has, on occasion, raised questions among his group of friends in China and at Logan.
“My former colleagues in Shanghai asked me why I wanted to go to America to learn about chiropractic, and here, in America, my friends asked me why I want to leave the medical field and learn something that is different,” he said. “I think all these questions reflect some common misunderstanding about what chiropractic is. Chiropractic physicians are not different from any
other health care provider in the sense of making a diagnosis.”
Jinpu is expected to graduate from Logan in May 2013 and while he hasn’t decided exactly where his career will take him after commencement, he certainly hopes his education will present some unique opportunities in the health care field, whether it’s teaching, serving at a hospital or opening his own clinic. For the immediate future, he said he’d like to stay in the United States and focus on gaining more clinical experience as a chiropractic physician.
Jinpu said it has been a comfort to discover that the basic sciences courses he’s taking at Logan are not much different from what he took in medical school. Though sometimes certain philosophies of chiropractic are hard for him to understand, Jinpu said he does not make judgments before he can fully understand it.
“One of the things I hope to take away from my education at Logan is a different approach to the human body,” he said. “I remind myself to stay open minded and absorb as much as possible.”