HK surgeons aim to be the world leaders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2007, 12:00am

College says specialist training could be model for other nations

The College of Surgeons of Hong Kong is developing postgraduate training, examinations and accreditation it hopes will be a role model for other countries.

The college severed its link with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in Britain earlier this year after 30 years of following the British surgical training and examination system.

In the past, doctors who wanted to develop a speciality in surgery had to pass two years of basic training and a membership examination before moving on to another four years of higher training and then sitting an exit examination to be awarded a fellowship.

The examinations were organised by the fellows of the local college and the Edinburgh college.

However, Britain pushed through medical reforms last year in which the membership examination was cancelled and the surgical training was shortened to four years.

'We think the new system may not really suit Hong Kong, so we decided to de-link from the British system and set up our own instead,' president of the local college Yeung Chung-kwong said.

'Hong Kong's standard of surgery is among the highest in the world. We have many outstanding surgeons and have developed many world-leading techniques. We are confident that our training and examination can gain recognition from other countries.'

In the long term, the college hopes that the training and examination system can set a world-class standard for other countries to follow.

Professor Yeung said: 'After all, the standard of conducting an operation should be the same no matter where it is. We believe that Hong Kong has the capability to help set the standard.'

He said the first of the three parts of the membership examination under the new system will be held by the college for about 120 doctors next month. Professor Yeung said the basic training and the membership examination would remain largely the same.

But he said the college would be striving to make the higher training more structural and that would include more computer-simulation training.

The total time span of surgical training will still be six years.

'There has been a major revolution in surgery in the past few decades,' he said

'Today, we tend to conduct more minimally invasive surgeries instead of the traditional, more invasive, methods.

'Surgeons now often use an endoscope instead of a knife. They watch the computer monitor to see the insides of the body during the operation.

'Computer simulation programs can help us train the doctors without the need to practise on live patients, which can better protect both the patients and the doctors.

'To enhance medical safety, we should train the surgeons like training the [aircraft] pilots who practise a lot in the virtual cockpit.'

Professor Yeung said the college would raise funds to buy more advanced computer programs to match the increase in the simulation training.

The new curriculum and the content of the new exit examination are expected to be confirmed in July next year as new trainees will proceed to the higher training at that time.