Tzu Chi Medical Foundation Staff Training Informs and Inspires

TIMA  |  December 20, 2022
Tzu Chi Medical Foundation conducts staff training at the Tzu Chi USA Headquarters campus in San Dimas, California, on October 9, 2021. Apart from attending classes, participants tour the campus and learn more about Tzu Chi’s charitable activities and spirit. Photo/Songgu Tsai

Written by Shuli Luo
Translated by Mark Wan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

With its clinics certified in November 2020 as Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-Alikes, the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation (TCMF) has been conducting workshops as an ongoing process, aiming to strengthen staff performance and the clinics’ service efficiency. As part of that new routine, on October 9, 2021, TCMF’s entire staff and volunteer force came to the Tzu Chi USA Headquarters campus in San Dimas, California, for training.

TCMF staff and volunteers attend a training session. Photo/Shuli Luo

Enhancing Knowledge While Instilling Tzu Chi’s Humanistic Values

The topics covered in this training program included: Details of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to properly protect patients’ medical records; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines to ensure health and safety in the workplace; and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to maintain readiness for emergency services.

Kevin Wong (left), TCMF’s Chief Operating Officer, is in charge of planning the training course program. Photo/Shuli Luo

Kevin Wong, Chief Operating Officer for TCMF, recognizes the need to expand the types of patients served following the FQHC Look-Alike certification. TCMF is ready, with such training boosting its capacity.

The majority of patients we currently serve are low-income earners who for medical needs usually use Medicaid, which is both hard to get and of varying quality. It is hoped that the public will soon realize that, irrespective of income, creed, and origin, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation will always provide quality medical service of the highest order.

The training participants learn and practice CPR. Photo/Songgu Tsai

Ongoing staff training is a requirement for all FQHC Look-Alikes. However, it is additionally a means for TCMF to instill Tzu Chi’s humanistic values within all aspects of its healthcare system. Apart from attending courses, participants toured the Tzu Chi USA Headquarters campus and gained a deeper understanding of Tzu Chi’s charitable ideals and spirit, which are also part of the medical mission.

Dr. William Keh, Board Director of TCMF, makes a speech during the training. Photo/Shuli Luo

It was beneficial to hold the training at the Tzu Chi USA Headquarters campus since Tzu Chi officials and volunteers could come and share their experiences as well as exchange ideas with the participants. Part of what they highlighted was the charitable nature of Tzu Chi’s activities in the United States and globally.

Debra Boudreaux, then Executive Vice President of Tzu Chi USA and now CEO since 2022, addresses participants of the training. Photo/Shuli Luo

“As many of our medical colleagues know, being an international NGO, Tzu Chi is also legally registered as a nonprofit entity, having accomplished much charity work across the globe. However, the lack of opportunity to participate in volunteering work may have contributed to the reason why the power of charitable action by Tzu Chi is hardly felt,” Wong said.

Several Tzu Chi volunteers are present to share their experiences and exchange ideas with the training participants. Photo/Shuli Luo

Coming to the headquarters campus and [listening to the sharing] makes it easier for them to latch on to the Tzu Chi spirit and ideal, which [they will then apply] in their work of caring for patients.

Everyone Learned Something of Value

Jam-packed training courses combined with warm interactions with Tzu Chi USA officials and volunteers provided a rich experience for the training participants. And those who attended made a great effort to be there, some driving in from other cities. 

Steven Voon, TCMF’s Executive Vice President, is responsible for Tzu Chi USA’s Fresno Mobile Clinic, whose medical team’s manager is his wife, Olivia Chung. The couple drove four hours to arrive in San Dimas for the training, leaving Fresno before dawn.

Steve Voon (right), TCMF’s Executive Vice President responsible for the Fresno Mobile Clinic, and his wife, Olivia Chung (middle), the medical team’s manager, attend the training. Photo/Shuli Luo

The couple felt the training experience was educational and worthwhile. “It was with a happy mood that I attended the training class, learning from each other while comparing notes. I picked up [things] that I may have underestimated before,” Chung said afterwards.

Looking back, everyone found reasons to appreciate the learning opportunity. For Dr. Jeng Shiang Chen, Acupuncture Director at TCMF, while the courses on HIPAA and OSHA satisfied federal certification requirements, they also echoed the principles already embedded in Tzu Chi’s approach and the standards at its health centers. Respect, safety, and patient-centered care are paramount, combined with top-quality medical services. 

“The best we can do for patients is to do our best to take care of them,” Dr. Chen said, and that includes perpetual learning. She pointed out how Dharma Master Cheng Yen repeatedly asks practitioners on the frontlines of Tzu Chi’s medical mission, “treat diseases as your relatives or teachers you learn from,” so that the knowledge and experience acquired will benefit future patients.

Training participants listen attentively during class. Photo/Shuli Luo

Dr. Carol Liu had just joined TCMF as Dental Director and was coming to the headquarters campus for the first time. She was astonished by the peaceful setting nestled in nature and decided to bring her family back to visit later. Dr. Liu was thankful for the training, not only in its content but also in the opportunities to connect with others.

The training courses allowed colleagues from different departments to gather to cultivate understanding among them for future cooperation and mutual assistance for better serving patients. Due to lack of time to interact once going back to the fast pace of regular work, colleagues enjoyed all the courses very much while taking full advantage of the opportunity to get to know one another in such a relaxed way in such a nice setting.

Tzu Chi Medical Foundation provides affordable and charitable patient-centered health care through three permanent clinics in California, a fleet of mobile clinics, and participation in medical outreach programs. Good health is invaluable. We welcome your support of Tzu Chi’s medical mission so that together, we can protect the health of the vulnerable, underserved, and underprivileged in our communities.

Won’t you join forces with Tzu Chi USA? By working together, we can make the ripples of our love and care circle ever wider, reaching those in need in our communities and beyond.