2011 KAMA International Convention
Hundreds of Korean-American medical professionals visited Seoul last week, to exchange the newest developments in the field of medicine with doctors here in Korea.
Right, at this year's Korean American Medical Association, or KAMA, International Convention, physicians of Korean heritage and Korean physicians gathered to strengthen the bond between the two medical communities.
For more details, we have our Arirang News correspondent Laah Hyun-kyung joining us in the studio.
Good to have you with us, Hyun-kyung.
[Reporter : ] Hello guys.
Now before I begin, I should probably give you guys a brief background on what exactly the KAMA convention is.
KAMA, like Sean said, stands for Korean American Medical Association, that has some 18-thousand members.
And since 1984, it's been holding annual conventions to bring medical professionals with Korean roots together to exchange the newest medical insights in America.
But this year, for the first time ever, it decided to have the convention here in Korea, in collaboration with many Korean based medical organizations, chief among them being the Korean Medical Assocation.
If it's been holding conventions there successfully, why all of a sudden have it here[Reporter : ] Well, members of the KAMA said that as important as sharing the newest medical knowledge is, building human networks also helps a lot in having a successful career in medicine.
So, it brought together not only Korean Americans, but also overseas Korean physicians in other countries as well.
Let's take a look.
The 2011 KAMA International Convention was held in Seoul for four days last week.
The most important purpose of the convention, according to KAMA's president, is to build strong cooperative relationships between Korean-American physicians and Korean doctors, so that both communities can endeavor toward advanced medicine and technology.
He says that although there are a lot of talented physicians of Korean heritage as well as Korean doctors out there, a relatively small amount of social network supporting them seems to be available.
[Interview : Hyun Chul-soo, President
Korean American Medical Association] "There are lots of areas where Korean doctors are recognized as the best in their field. Organ transplantation, or more specifically, liver transplantation is one. There are also robotic surgery, cardiac surgery, and of course plastic surgery. I think radiology can also rank in the top seven. But there were times in the past when these physicians were underestimated internationally due to a lack of a human network.
So, through this convention, I hope that both sides will be able to get to know each other better and build strong ties."
During the convention, there were many scientific lectures based on various subjects, including stem cell biology, oncology, and cardiology.
And what made this year's gathering even more special was that not only those currently in practices, but also future physicians were invited to attend the lectures.
[Interview : An Yoon-kyo, Chairperson
Global Korean Medical Students Org.] "Through scientific academic program I learn what specialties are available, what are the current research that are going on and also get to meet the renowned physicians in the area and get to learn what the frontier medicine's all about in the area.
It will be a good opportunity for me as a student to connect with physicians from all around the world and also students who are attending this conference."
And with medical tourism emerging rapidly as a growing market in the United States, those attending, both professionals and future physicians, paid close attention to the information the presenters had to offer.
But some say despite Korea's excellent medical system, not many overseas physicians seem to know much about it yet.
[Interview : Saby Karuppiah, Faculty member
Drexel College of Medicine] "I'm not sure the Americans are fully aware that Korea has such a strong medical system. They have state-of-the-art mega medical centers. So if the American patients and the American people know that I think more people would come to Korea for treatment, for their specialized care. So I think this KAMA meeting would serve as a bridge because a lot of education is needed."
He added that if Korean-American doctors went back and educated their colleagues and patients, then more people would be willing to come to Korea for medical care.
[Reporter : Laah Hyun-kyung
email@example.com] "However, some medical experts say that there may be an even bigger market for the Korean medical industry to pay attention to."
[Interview : Yoon Chang-kyum, Vice President
Korean Medical Association] "There are lots of first generation overseas Korean immigrants in their 70s and 80s all over the world, wishing to spend the rest of their lives in their motherland, but hesitant to do so because they are ill. I think we should collaborate with their doctors to make ways for them to do as they wish. That is one of the main objectives of this convention as well."
Meanwhile, participants also had an opportunity to choose one out of eight Korean hospitals to tour and observe how it manages to accommodate thousands of patients.
This group went to Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul.
They were warmly greeted by Korean doctors and during the tour lots of questions and answers went back and forth through which they got to understand more about each other's medical system and how it works.
[Interview : Choe Yeon-hyeon, Deputy Director
Cardiovascular Imaging Center, SMC] "Korean patients can receive high quality care when it comes to imaging because of its fast introduction of the newest medical equipment and also because of the abundance in research and infrastructure."
The group was taken to almost all parts of the hospitals, including its cardiovascular center, cath lab, and intensive care unit, and it definitely looked like they were very impressed.
[Interview : Kang Helen, Korean American physician] "The average American hospital has at most one or two MRIs. And after the tour today of one of the Korean hospitals, I was told that there were seven MRIs. I mean that is astounding. I do not think any hospital in America has seven MRIs so that's just amazing to me. My parents installed in me the sense that I am Korean first so just seeing Korea and Korean doctors leading the world in the health field is really heartwarming and I can go back to America saying yeah wow I am a Korean American and they are doing amazing things in Korea."
Hopes are high that like Dr. Kang, the attendees will tell their colleagues and patients how great their experiences were in Korea and continue to walk toward building a stronger Korean physician community around the globe.
You know, come to think of it, it's actually surprising that they hadn't organized this kind of event sooner.
I mean, everything is globalized everywhere nowadays.
It feels like the world is becoming smaller by the minute.
Anyway, Hyun-kyung, the convention lasted for four days, right[Reporter : ] Actually, yes.
For some people, it was their first time visiting Korea, so on the last day of the convention, which was Sunday, they had a chance to visit the DMZ, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, listen to a bit of Korean traditional music, and experience some local culture.
Well, I hope they took back all the good experiences they had here in Korea with them and hopefully both sides will keep fostering their relationships.
Ok, thanks for that report, Hyun-kyung.
[Reporter : ] Thanks for having me.
Reporter : firstname.lastname@example.org