BenU offers American health care experience to China's MPH students

November 29, 2017

Lisle, Illinios ~ More and more of China’s public health professionals and students are looking to other nations for ideas on how to improve their country’s health care service infrastructure to meet the needs of an increasing population of elderly patients.

Benedictine University is steadily becoming a critical resource in this effort after establishing a partnership in 2012 with Dalian Medical University (DMU) to offer Benedictine’s Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program in China. It remains one of the only fully-accredited American M.P.H. programs operating in China, providing students with in-depth knowledge, training and tools developed in the United States.

Recently, Benedictine developed a workshop to provide Chinese students in the program with an opportunity to visit the Lisle campus and tour several public and private health agencies dedicated to serving people with multiple health concerns.

The workshop was developed by Alan Gorr, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of Public Health and instructor Bette Lawrence-Water to introduce Chinese students to American culture and provide an overview of American health care practices and operations. This experience was also designed to prepare students for future internships and other opportunities in public health.

The goal is to help them acquire new techniques and strategies to provide better care to a population of seniors that the United Nations expects will grow exponentially from 100 million in 2005 to 330 million in 2050 (roughly twice the population of the United States).

“The American ethos around health and health care is quite foreign to them despite all they know,” Gorr said. “The idea of a nonprofit voluntary or faith-based organization has no counterpart in their way of thinking.”

“With a rapidly aging population, new programs and facilities must be established to meet the needs of this larger segment of the population,” Gorr added. “These students enter our M.P.H. program with the intention of helping to develop such capacity in China, so they were very interested to see how we do it here.”

The students learned how to purchase basic necessities and other items at local stores, attended introductory lectures and toured downtown Chicago while observing American manners and behaviors.

The health care institutions they visited included NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) in Wheaton; the Kane County Health Department; Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) Health Center-Aurora; AIM-CIL (Achieving Independence and Mobility-Center for Independent Living) in Downers Grove; and the Xilin Community Center, a nonprofit which serves the Asian population and other individuals by providing an adult day care facility and innovative education system for children, as well as community events and activities.

At each facility, students discovered and reflected on the different types of care and public health services offered to various at-risk populations.

Near the end of the workshop, students presented their findings and recommendations for improving Chinese and American health services. Many were impressed with the caring atmosphere, the selflessness of the volunteers they encountered and the dedication to patients that they witnessed at the organizations they visited. After successfully completing the program, students participated in the annual M.P.H. Research Symposium and joined other M.P.H. graduates at Commencement.

Benedictine’s M.P.H. can be applied in a variety of settings, including administration of private health organizations, social service or public health agencies; managing, planning and evaluating community or workplace health promotion programs; working on cancer surveillance or in the pharmaceutical industry; and current and future health positions in medicine, nursing, dentistry or pharmacy.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the eighth consecutive year in 2018. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

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