Three occupational therapy students from South Korea have spent the past week at University of the Sciences exploring and identifying the cultural differences between healthcare in their homeland and the U.S.
That’s because USciences established a partnership with Far East University (FEU) last year to allow its students to travel to Philadelphia for two weeks to explore healthcare and occupational therapy, observe treatment options, and compare the country’s healthcare system to that of South Korea.
At left: Occupational therapy students and professors from USciences and FEU gathered in Woodland Hall to interact and learn the cultural differences in healthcare between their two countries. Pictured here, from left to right in the back row, includes: Stacy Desrouilleres MOT'15; Huiwon Moon, junior at FEU; Young Ju Lee, junior at FEU; Ryeoeun Kim, senior at FEU; Marissa Larocco MOT'15; and Delaina Torres MOT'15. Front row, from left to right: Dr. Rochelle Mendonca, assistant professor of OT at USciences; Jihyun Kim, professor of occupational therapy at FEU; and Christopher Yang, DrOT'16.
Students from USciences also had the opportunity to travel to FEU last summer to study occupational therapy in South Korea. Although students did not participate in the exchange program this summer, Dr. Rochelle Mendonca, assistant professor of occupational therapy, said, USciences plans to continue the program in the future.
Dr. Mendonca and Jihyun Kim, professor of occupational therapy at FEU met while attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and discussed implementing this foreign exchange program once they were hired at their respective institutions. Their goal is to give students a worldview of a profession in occupational therapy.
“Last year was experimental for this program, and we learned it is important for our students to engage in educational activities – such as visiting local hospitals in the area – to experience occupational therapy in action,” said Dr. Mendonca. “We also want the students to take away something unique from this trip, which is why they will be wrapping up their stay with a final project.”
Their coursework also incorporates various learning activities, including lecture series, discussions, review of case studies, and touring cultural sites around Philadelphia. Each day during the FEU students’ visit, a variety of USciences’ occupational therapy students also accompany them to their field trips and lectures.
“For two of my three students participating in this program, this was their first time taking the long flight over to the United States from South Korea,” said Professor Kim. “Although their English is not very strong, my students are still able to catch the key points of USciences’ informational discussions and lectures.”
The FEU students are working to prepare final presentations to deliver to the USciences’ occupational therapy faculty and students on their final day, Aug. 9. These presentations will outline each student’s outlook on the differences of occupational therapy between the two countries.
“So far, I’ve discovered that occupational therapy is very similar in South Korea and America; however, the differences are most apparent in the characteristics of the patients,” said Huiwon Moon, 20, a junior at FEU. “Korean patients are very shy, whereas Americans are more active and outgoing.”
Ryeoeum Kim, 22, a senior at FEU, said, this visit has opened her eyes to the possibility of continuing her occupational therapy education at USciences upon graduating from FEU in the spring.
“I really enjoy what Philadelphia has to offer and the occupational therapy professors at USciences are very passionate about this field,” she said.