Kyle Hoedebecke: my experience working in Korea

February, 2018

Kyle Hoedebecke, inaugural chair of Polaris, the WONCA Young Doctors’ Movement in North America was recently selected as the US Army Physician of the Year. Congratulations to Kyle on this high level achievement. He has been working in South Korea for two years and here he talks of "my experience working in South Korea". He is clearly thinking ahead to the WONCA World conference coming up in Seoul in October.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to work as a family physician and medical director in Seoul, South Korea for the last two years and – with the upcoming 2018 WONCA World Conference being hosted here – I wanted to share my amazing experiences with you all!

Situated on the Han River, Seoul is an incredibly modern city of over 25 million people. It is currently the ninth most-popular city to visit in the world per and has the third best airport globally. The country as a whole has the most advanced broadband connection and this will be clearly evident during the conference. The quantities and speed at which technology advances here are like none I have ever experienced!

Originating from the US, this has been my first time being immersed Korean culture. I have found that respect has been the key characteristic that has transcended our differences in experience and languages. Beyond this, Koreans also love food! They prepare hundreds of traditional dishes and even have their own cultural twists on international items like bulgogi (Korean-style meat) hamburgers or kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) fries. Be careful though as local food often proves to be spicy!

While here for the 2018 WONCA World Conference, you also can take advantage of some of the biggest shopping malls in the world – including the largest Ikea and IMAX 4D movie theater - with stores often remaining open until 4am!

In the primary care realm, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the Korean Academy of Family Medicine at their annual conferences as well as help plan the WONCA World 2018 conference itself. This type of international collaboration is at the heart of family medicine in order to improve health globally. As of 2030, South Koreans are projected to have the longest life expectancy in the world at 90.8 and 84.1 years for women and men, respectively. They must be doing something right – so let’s find out what! We must continue to share best practices in medicine, diet, and other aspects of health in order to assure that our own communities may benefit.

As preparations for WONCA World 2018 in Seoul continue, I highly recommend that you make every effort to attend. This is a unique experience to visit with colleagues, experience a new culture, and improve your medical knowledge. Please do not hesitate to ask me questions or get advice about the conference or related topics.

고맙습니다 (gomabseubnida)– Thank you!