The Magic of Medicine: Going to the Doctor in Korea

The Magic of Medicine: Going to the Doctor in Korea

Like countless others across the globe, I am a total pansy about getting sick. I get a headache and it’s game over for me for the whole day (I’m slightly dramatic and I’m okay with it). But, strangely, I’ve actually kind of been anticipating getting sick in Korea. I don’t mean like “Man, sure can’t wait to catch pneumonia!”, I just mean maybe catching a cold or something super mild so that I can get the chance to go to the doctor.

Wait, hear me out!

Since we’ve been here in Korea for 3 months now some of our friends were bound to get sick and end up at the hospital. First off, going to the hospital in Korea does not mean what it means in the States. Back home if you’re going to the hospital you are either dying or, if you can’t cure it with NyQuil and a dose of vitamins, at the very least irreparable. Here in Korea, going to the hospital is the same as going to the doctor’s office. After hearing from several friends about their medical experiences here, I was excited to finally find myself in a situation where I could see how great it was to go to the doctor.

I wasn’t disappointed.

First off, I can honestly say that there is no one else I’d rather be around when I feel like death than a Korean doctor. For one thing, they are practically unflappable.

When I got my eye lid snipped, the doctor didn’t bat an eye (no pun intended…ok, a little pun intended…ok, I’m laughing). When I had a mosquito bite literally the size of Mt. Kilamanjaro (seriously, I had some kind of crazy weird reaction that made me look like the Hunchback of Notre Hand) and showed it to the woman at the pharmacy, she looked so unimpressed I genuinely thought I was overreacting until I realized I could feel nothing above my wrist. She handed me a bottle of minty smelling medicine and sent me on my way in 5 minutes flat. There’s probably nothing these people haven’t seen, and for a total hypochondriac drama queen such as myself, the calm and borderline boredom that surrounds these doctors is something I cling to when I visit the doctor’s office. If they’re not freaking out, I’m not freaking out. Problem solved!

Another thing to love: the speed with which you are accurately diagnosed and treated here is astounding. 99.9% of the time you will be in and out of the doctor’s here in 15 minutes or less, that’s including wait time, the time they see you, and the time it takes for you to get your prescription, pay and be on your merry way. I kid you not, when I visited the eye doctor last week it took longer for me to check in (a grand total of 5 minutes) than it did for me to wait, see the doctor, have him tell me what was wrong and get up out of there. And it’s not like there aren’t other people there waiting for their turn, it’s just some kind of Korean magic that gets you in and out in no time flat!

99.9999% of the time there will be a pharmacy either inside of the clinic or hospital where you are, or a 3 second walk downstairs to the one that’s connected to said hospital or clinic. You simply hand the pharmacist the sheet of paper they give you at the end of your doctor’s visit, they rummage around in the back for a minute or two and then hand you the medicine you need. If you have pills they put them into separate, super conveniently placed, pouches and you just take the medicine however many times a day you need to from each little pouch. The best part: this medicine starts working in just a couple of hours, if not immediately.

So now you’re probably wondering, “Well Anyssa, if everything’s so gosh darn fast and convenient, how much does it normally cost?” I’m glad you hypothetically asked that because the answer is…not a whole heck of a lot. All 3 of my doctor’s visits here have cost me maybe a combined total of $30, and that’s including medicine from the pharmacy. The most I’ve had to pay was $10 for my lid cut in Jeju, and they seemed apologetic for making me pay even that much and I was like:

Even if you’re too bad for the hospital, I’ve heard good things about the ER too. Now, I’ve heard of some jacked up people going to the hospital, and if they can’t fix you there I don’t even want to think about how near death you have to be to actually have to go to the Emergency Room. I’ve only known one person to actually go to the ER here in Korea and they took care of her like a pro despite her situation. Mind you, it was a tad on the expensive side because of all the tests they had to run, but honestly it was still only a fraction of what she would have head to pay at home.

In short, Korean doctors and medicine are fabulous.

I don’t like being sick, but when I am, I go to a Korean doctor to feel better. All the time, every time.

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One thought on "The Magic of Medicine: Going to the Doctor in Korea"

  1. Jalal says:

    It was so pleasant to read and thank you for the info .

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