Family medicine centre seeks staff

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am

When seeking primary health care, general outpatient clinics are where most Hongkongers go to. As part of the proposed government reforms to improve health care in Hong Kong, more resources will be put into family medicine, which is widely recognised as essential primary care and an effective way to promote health.

After having established the first family medicine centre in the hospital last year, Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital will today open a centre in Central.

'Hong Kong needs ... family medicine centres. The government has talked about this for a very long time, but has done little about this,' said Dr Joseph Chan Woon-tong, assistant medical superintendent of the hospital. 'Though we are a hospital, we think we should provide some primary care services.'

To achieve its goal of providing top-quality service at the centre, the hospital is hiring medical and administrative staff, who will be able to take care of patients' physical, social, occupational, family and emotional needs.

Fully trained family medicine specialists and partially trained family medicine physicians are both welcome to apply for positions.

Dr Chan said since the hospital was a Hong Kong College of Family Physicians' accredited training centre, further training would be provided to all of its doctors.

'As a private hospital, we can't take in fresh graduates,' Dr Chan said. 'We hope our doctors will understand more about the standard and service requirements in private medicine after being trained in the hospital for one or two years.

'We also expect them to know how to manage a clinic and provide satisfactory service when we send them to the centres.'

Since there would be more family medicine service outlets to come, after the opening of the centre in Central, Dr Chan said the hospital would hire three to five more family medicine doctors in the coming year.

'This is our first family medicine centre [outside the hospital]. But our vision is to open more centres in future. We are not sure about the [exact] number yet. Whenever there is an opportunity and right location, we will open another one,' he said.

The centre is also looking for a registered nurse, aide, dispenser and clerk/receptionist. Dr Chan said as the centre was affiliated to the hospital, it would demand high calibre medical staff.

To ensure consistency with the service-oriented culture of the hospital, the centre prefers candidates who are customer-focused. While the centre will accept candidates with impressive service records, there are also orientation programmes and a training system developed by hotels to equip frontline staff with quality service skills.

Dr Chan said that while the salary and allowances offered by the hospital were better than that of the Hospital Authority, the stable working hours of the centre might be an added incentive for candidates with a family.

'Unlike nurses working in the wards, nurses in the centre don't need to work shifts,' he said.

Junior personnel, such as aides and clerks, can get further health care education at the hospital's School of Nursing. The Sanatorium is the only private hospital in the city with a training school for registered nurses. It also offers a two-year nursing course and a full-time bachelor of nursing degree programme, in collaboration with the Open University of Hong Kong.

'Many clerks and aides, who were there to assist the nurses, later found themselves interested in health care and wanted to get a professional qualification in nursing,' he said. 'In the past few years, some of the applicants for the nurse programme were our clerks and aides working in the hospital.'

Dr Chan said primary health care in Hong Kong lagged behind countries such as Britain and Australia.

The hospital hopes to take the lead in developing family medicine in the city and raise awareness. 'We want to educate the public [about] family medicine and encourage them to have their own family doctor to take care of them,' he said.

'It takes time. I think we need one generation to change this.'

In brief

Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital is expanding the family medicine service and will open more family medicine centres in the city

Fully trained and partially trained family medicine physicians are welcome to join the new centres

To ensure consistency with the service-oriented culture of the hospital, the centre prefers candidates to be customer-focused

There are opportunities for junior staff to get further health care education at the hospital's School of Nursing