03 October 2013

Heat, humidity, and innovation

HONG KONG—The ability of Hong Kong residents to fall asleep instantly on a train and awaken at their station amazes me. This week, I am living in Sha Tin, in the New Territories of Hong Kong, and commuting to Hung Hom to work at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU). The 20-minute train journey, which begins at Lo Wu, on the border with mainland China, is packed in the mornings. Those who get a seat simply close their eyes and sleep. Most of those standing stare at the screen of their mobile phone. I simply cannot imagine the Far East and Southeast Asia before the mobile phone. It is the same wherever I go in this part of the world. Whether in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong or Taiwan, the people’s dedication to mobile technology puts even my own technology-addicted children to shame.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University is a lively place. Recruitment days, graduations, celebrations—there is always something happening in its concourses. In a decade of visiting this campus, I cannot recall a time when there was not a new building being erected. To the present, these have always been in neat red brick. However, the most recent addition is Innovation Tower, which is drawing attention in the design world.

Innovation is a key word here, and it is also demonstrated in the exclusive Hotel ICON, built by HKPU to train students of hotel management in the environment of a five-star luxury hotel. The basement Asian buffet is great for lunch and, over dinner, the views from the high-level Above & Beyond are fabulous. HKPU has recently entered the Twittersphere and has been tweeting about our visit and our seminars.

The schedule at HKPU is heavy. I am here with my University of Hull colleague Mark Hayter, PhD, RN, to teach in a preregistration master’s nursing programme. But teaching here is not the same as back home. In the Far East and Southeast Asia, it is rare for students to ask questions in class; they would never dream of interrupting you. Instead, they queue up after the lecture and ask questions, individually. Generating audience participation is virtually impossible, and the most direct question is usually met with silence. This difference in culture is one adjustment you have to make to your teaching here; everything is very formal.

Alex Molasiotis
Students enrolled in the programme are all graduates and employees of the prestigious Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital. Luckily, the hospital has requested that some of the teaching be provided by international scholars, so, for several years, we have visited twice annually. The students are bright and challenging, with varied academic backgrounds. They are a pleasure to teach and have no difficulty asking questions, but always after the lecture. I was pleased to hear from Alex Molasiotis, PhD, RN, head of the school of nursing, that the contract has been renewed for a few years.

Mark Hayter focuses on qualitative methods and I on quantitative methods. Therefore, my sessions cover the concepts of measurement, study designs, and statistics. I also give a presentation to new intakes of master’s and undergraduate students on a systematic approach to studying anatomy and physiology. This is something I want to work up into a more concise presentation and then publish something to accompany it.

I have published several books on anatomy and physiology, but I have a passion to convey the logic of anatomy and the relationship between structure, function, and control. As I write for my “Four things about ...” blog, which is about a simple approach to anatomy and physiology, I am encouraged by the number of hits (87,335). There was a public holiday during our visit, and I used the time to revise one of my online lectures on homeostasis, which is linked to the blog. We were both invited to give seminars; Mark delivers one on sexual health, and mine is on activities of daily living.

The weather is unusually warm for this time of year, and the humidity is high. Local colleagues assure us that it is getting cooler, but running for several miles means you end up drenched in sweat and severely dehydrated, with a core temperature above the physiological norm. Even after a cold shower, it takes an hour to cool down. If you arrive at a social event within that hour, you look as if you have been swimming—fully clothed.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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