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Inside China Looking Out

Mary McBean, a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at Argosy University, Southern California, has returned from China where she participated in the People to People Ambassador program. The program sends professional delegations to China and Tibet each year to participate in an educational exchange with their counterparts. Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the People to People program is dedicated to fostering peace through understanding.

Mary was chosen to participate based on her professional contributions and membership in the American Nurse Association. She joined other delegates from around the world as they explored the health care system and the philosophy behind it to determine how recent changes have affected care.

“My visit to China afforded me the opportunity to self-reflect on how fortunate I am as an American citizen. Our democracy allows all individuals freedom and liberty to pursue and challenge themselves to their highest potential without interference,” Mary said, “In the United States, many women enter the profession around 45 years of age, whereas in China, nurses must leave the profession between the ages of 40 and 45.”
 
“Aspiring to attain a masters or doctorate degree in nursing is not encouraged or supported in China, due to the structure of the educational system,” she continued. “With a population has 2.3 billion people, the Chinese government mandates retirement for nurses in managerial positions at age 45, and staff nurses at age 40, to make room for younger nurses coming out of the universities.”
 
“As an older nurse, this visit gave me a degree of appreciation for the nursing environment in the United States that values the contribution that age and wisdom bring to the growth and development of younger nurses,” said Mary.  “I expect to share the benefit of my professional experience with nurses entering the profession, and encourage the nurses leaving to consider a visit to China.”

For 50 years, People to People Ambassador Program has concentrated on the development of substantive professional exchanges for a wide variety of professions to fulfill the mission. In past years, delegates have shared their expertise in areas of medicine, manufacturing, law, education, and science.