A Face of Chinese Radiology to the World
Zhengyu Jin has been representing Chinese radiology internationally for years. He explains how radiology has changed during the last three decades and why he thinks internationalization is a must.
radiology.bayer.com (rbc): How are challenges for radiology in China different from other parts of the world?
Zhengyu Jin (ZJ): The simple answer is, we have more people. We get an enormous amount of cases. No other country is like that, except India maybe.
rbc: How has radiology changed during the last decades?
ZJ: I went into medicine more than 30 years ago. Back then our country was at the beginning of a huge financial and economic development. We learned from the Western countries up to a point where we were able to accomplish steady industrial growth by our own means.
The process is similar for radiology: We also went through huge changes, following the transformation of our country. Now Chinese radiologists are increasingly doing their own research. I think this is a big change.
rbc: Medicine and politics seem to be closely related in China…
ZJ: Yes, of course, and not just in China. I think it is a global phenomenon that healthcare is a political responsibility. Healthcare needs to serve politicians and their concepts – that is the big umbrella. We as radiologists are following that.
rbc: Who is the most important political counterpart for radiology?
ZJ: We are doctors. We should think about science and the provision of healthcare. For the country and its people, politicians are most important. They decide, we need to follow their lead.
rbc: Which changes would you like to see in the Chinese healthcare system?
ZJ: Well, the Chinese are open and we are continuously learning, so we adapt all the time. We have the biggest population base and deal with a huge number of patients every day. A lot of our resources go into that. Artificial Intelligence might be a way out for the future.
rbc: Where you will put your department regarding Artificial Intelligence?
JZ: Whether you like AI or not, it will be coming. So we have to open our arms and work with it. There is still a long way to go. Neither a lot of doctors nor patients really understand it completely, which might cause problems. But we welcome it, because it might be able to assist us.
rbc: Will AI replace doctors?
JZ: I think computers cannot replace doctors. Some people say medicine is science, some say it is art. It is indeed an art to be face to face with patients, to communicate with your eyes, your talk, your feelings. It is not just about giving some injections that is just part of it. The important thing is trust and also some gut feeling towards your patient. It’s ‘medi-care’.
rbc: Will that mean a big role change for radiologists?
JZ: I think so, but I teach more and more face-to-face communication with patients. This will open the future for the clinic. Tell your patients about their picture, explain what the image means, where they will be going next, which solutions there are, give them suggestions. That is the future of radiologists.
rbc: Do young radiologists in your department already get that idea?
JZ: Yes. I tell it over and over and over again. And they respond to that.In the end, I want to make our Chinese radiology great again.
Education and Connection
rbc: As the incoming president of the Chinese Society of Radiology, how do you want to prepare your fellow radiologists for the future?
ZJ: I will definitely focus on education. That is my most important goal. I think the society also needs to become more international. We need to go abroad to find more friends to let them know about China.
rbc: You’ve developed your department to one of the leading radiology departments in China. How did you do that?
ZJ: First of all, Peking Union Medical College Hospital has a long history. The Rockefeller Foundation founded it almost a hundred years ago. So we had an American style hospital early on, with a culture base similar to Western countries. As you might know, we went through tough periods during the Second World War and the Cultural Revolution.
We have re-built the hospital during the last 30 years. We can rely on our culture to develop our department to the top one in China. It is a hard period, we need to pay a lot more than other departments, but we are proud of that. We still need to become more international. However, the most important thing is to find right people in the young generation, who are able and willing to keep up this process.
rbc: What does it take for a young colleague to become a good, successful radiologist?
JZ: In my leadership period of over 30 years, the most important thing is to get the best people from the young generation for our hospital and our department. That is true for any group, and even the whole country: The most important thing is to find the second generation that will continue and improve your legacy.
rbc: What do you think foreigners should definitely know about China?
JZ: They should get to know our culture. It goes both ways: When I send my young doctors abroad, they ask me ‘Chairman, what is most important for us to learn?’, and I tell them to learn about the culture of the Western countries.
Science is not the number one on this agenda, because with the Internet you can basically stay here to learn that. I revere technology, don’t get me wrong. But to understand a culture, you need to go there and talk to people face to face; you need to know which kind of food they like, which kind of lifestyle they prefer. You need to communicate.
rbc: Why is that important?
JZ: If you want to become a very strong society and country, you have to connect internationally. If you do not know a culture, you think about it in a wrong way. You think ‘but this is not like China’ – or like Europe or the US. If you know each other, you know which differences derive from another kind of culture, what is similar or different. You can put it together and it makes sense. It is globalisation.
About Zhengyu Jin
Zhengyu Jin is a professor of radiology and the director of the Beijing Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) Imaging Department. It has become the number one radiology department in the nationwide best specialist reputation ranking list during his lead.
He also serves as principal of the Ministry of state-level key disciplines.
Zhengyu Jin is the president of the Chinese Society of Radiology.
Zhengyu Jin has been awarded with the RSNA honorary membership in 2014. At ECR 2018, he is presented with Honorary Membership of the European Society of Radiology.
In addition to many Chinese key research projects, Zhengyu Jin is a renowned educator. He has published over 120 articles and 8 professional books.