Dr. Ren Gang, an orthopedic surgeon at Beijing United Family Hospital, spent 17 years studying to become a doctor. A native of China, Dr. Ren received his medical degree from Capital Medical University in Beijing, and later ventured to Denmark, where he completed his PhD in minimally-invasive spine surgery. Recently, Dr. Ren spoke with Canadian International School of Beijing students about surgery, diagnosis, and the human body’s 207 bones.
Jumpei Honda, 10, Japan
How many years of learning did it take for you to be a doctor?
It took me 17 years of education to become a doctor.
Justin Ju Hyoung Rhee, 9, South Korea
How many years have you worked as a doctor? And were you a surgeon at first?
Thirteen. And no. First, after graduating from medical school, you have to rotate to different medical departments in different hospitals. In China, you have to rotate for at least three years. So after I graduated, I was not an orthopedic surgeon. After the rotation, you can choose to be an orthopedic surgeon, a cardiologist, a neurosurgeon, or [so on].
Seung Min Kim, 10, South Korea
Why did you want to become a doctor and do you think it’s a good job?
I think it’s a good job, but it’s a very hard job because it takes such a long time and you have to read a lot of books. But I think having an interest [helps]. If you do something you think is very interesting, you are forced to keep learning and [then]the years go by very fast.
Angela Hwang, 9, South Korea
How many people do you fix in one day?
If I’m in the clinic, at least 10 patients will come to me. If I’m working in the operation theater, I can [see]just one or two patients in the same day.
Danah Farhan Alrashed, 9, Saudi Arabia
Do you help kids?
Yes. Last week, I had a 13-year-old girl who broke her toe. She went to another hospital and unfortunately the doctor in the other hospital applied the wrong cast. And then the girl came to me with a toe [that was]painful and swollen. I [helped her]change the cast.
Marsha Feng, 9, US
How many kinds of doctors work in the hospital?
A lot; more than ten [kinds].
Guy Hayardeny, 9, US
What other things do you do in the hospital?
Every day, I have three different places I have to work. One is the ward: If a patient is seriously ill, he has to stay in the hospital. Second part is outpatient and emergency, when the patient comes to the hospital then they feel sick. And the third place is the
Jason Ku, 9, Malaysia
How do you fix trauma?
Trauma could be just a fracture in one finger. A multiple trauma might happen after a traffic accident. A multiple trauma would be a head injury, lung injury, and fractures in several parts. So traumas are all different. A simple fracture is [easier to fix]; a multiple fracture means admission to the ward, several operations, and intensive care.
Saraa Aishe Ndahangwakelao Iita, 9, Namibia
Q1: The spine is delicate,
so how do you fix it without breaking it?
Spinal damage is a very special case. Usually a spinal cord injury means surgery, and we put screws inside the bone and or put a metal implant into the bone to fix the fracture.
Q2: Why do people have bones?
If you have no bones, what happens? [Falls to the floor]
Marina Rybinskaya, 10, Russia
If you break your elbow, how long does it take to fix it?
An elbow fracture is a very complicated case, especially for kids. It depends on the type of fracture. Generally speaking, it takes three or four weeks to heal. Maybe you will need a cast after you have broken your elbow, but after three or four weeks, you have to do exercises on your elbow joint, otherwise your elbow joints become very stiff. It’s very hard to get it back to normal function again.
Renee Zhang, 9, Canada
What’s the most serious injury you ever treated?
It was a multiple trauma. I will not describe it [fully], but [it was]multiple trauma after a very serious motorcycle accident. Lung injury, brain injury; it was very serious.
Jacob Ruben Levin, 9, US
Do you ever fix blood lines?
Yes. A blood line is called an artery or a vein. The blood goes from the heart to the artery to the finger, and then goes back to the heart through a vein. Yes, I have repaired those.
Victoria Gong, 9, US
What’s the weirdest case you ever saw?
I don’t think I have had a weird case or disease. Weird is always very rare, and my experience [with rare cases]is limited.
Abdul-Rahman Khan, 8, Pakistan
Did you ever have a time when you couldn’t understand what was wrong with a patient?
Yes, it has happened. We have high-quality, manmade technology, but we cannot [replicate the complexity of a]human being, even though modern medicine has more that 100 years of history. Doctors and scientists cannot make 100 percent sure that we can manage [ourselves]. So sometimes, there is no correct answer. I cannot always give you a 100 percent [accurate]answer with an uncommon disease, but for a common disease [I can].