I was born in Shanghai, China, to a family dedicated to medicine. My father was a Western pharmacist and my mother was a nurse. Both of my parents worked at a military hospital. Because of military privileges in China, my family did not suffer at all during The Cultural Revolution.
After graduating from high school, and during the revolution, I had to go out into the countryside because I was the oldest member of my family. This saved my younger or sister form having to go. First, I went to be a farmer in 1975, and I did this for two and a half years. At that time, life was difficult but also rewarding. I remember having to carry two hundred pounds along a mountain path. I did not complain because I believed that if another man could do it, so could I.
The first three months, I performed my work well and gradually gained the farmers’ trust. As a reward, the farmers selected me to attend a ‘barefoot doctor’s training program which lasted six months. I completed the program when I was eighteen years old. I would bring needles and herbs to the field so that I could treat the farmers. During the daytime, I worked in the fields. In the evening, I would treat the farmers who waited for me in my room. My room was both a clinic and a classroom. The farmers were more than just patients; they were also my teachers! For example, I learned how to save many people’s lives from snake-bite from some of the farmers, who also taught me a lot about herbs and acupuncture.
Many times I had to deal with complicated medical cases that I did not yet know how to treat. I often carried these patients down the mountain, to the hospital. If any of them died, it would upset me for many months because I could not save their lives. The farmers often looked up to me and many believed that I knew everything. I remember one time, I sent an injured farmer to a hospital. On the way, he died from excessive bleeding. I felt horrible about this. I made up my mind to some day get the best training I could find in China.
In 1978, Dong Xiao Ping said,” Everyone must take an exam and go to college.” Thus, many young people from the village walked two days to the exam center so test could be taken. Months later, I was accepted by the Zhengjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine College in Hangzhou, China. I was the only one in the county accepted! Many others had to remain in the country. Some of them actually cried. I was both happy and sad at the same time. I was happy because I could go back to the city and have this rare opportunity to study. But, I was also sad because I had to leave the farmers who had taught me so much. In so many ways, they helped me become a better person.
From 1978 to 1983, I studied at the Traditional Chinese Medicine College in Hangzhou, China. After graduating from college, I decided to go to the University of Shanghai Medicine to learn orthopedic surgery. The experience of being “a barefoot doctor” helped me realize the importance of advanced training in order to help save people’s lives.
The University of Shanghai School of Medicine is a world-renowned medical school and students come from all around the world to attend. I studied in the Zhongshan Hospital’s Orthopedic Department. The head of the department was Dr. Chen Zhong-Wei, a world respected microscopic surgeon. He was the founder of microsurgery and was the first doctor in the world who successfully performed a re-attachment of a finger in 1963. I learned a great deal from this remarkable doctor. I did many trauma and emergency surgeries at this hospital.
I came to the United States in 1996. I am happiest when I can treat patients using acupuncture and Chinese medicine from the knowledge I have gained from surgical training. I am thankful that I know the human body well and can get the results that are needed. I enjoy communicating with neurosurgeons and orthopedic doctors who send me their patients. This team approach has proven very successful.
I look forward to meeting new patients and facing new medical challenges everyday. If I can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
John Shang visited the countryside in June of 2009 where John stayed with this family in 1970's.
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