University of Hong Kong medical school to revamp training programme for its students

They will for the first time receive private sector training and be given experience of treating rare diseases not seen in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2016, 12:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 October, 2016, 12:01am

Hong Kong’s most prominent medical school will revamp its training programme for medical students to give them more comprehensive training not only in public wards, but also for the first time in a new private teaching hospital and a related facility in Shenzhen.

The new programme at the University of Hong Kong’s medical school would give students exposure to the treatment of rare diseases and strengthen their training for work in the private sector in face of the overburdened public health care system, medicine faculty dean Professor Gabriel Leung said.

Under the reform, understaffed public hospitals will no longer be the only training grounds for most young practitioners.

A dose of humanities for medical students

Experts from University College London have been commissioned to advise on the new teaching model for HKU, which is similar to that of the British university and Harvard University in the US.

“This is the only direction for local medical training to go,” said Leung, who has headed the 130-year-old medical school since 2013.

“It is not an easy job but it has to be done to make Hong Kong advance to a higher level in the world.”

While the public Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam will remain the major training ground for HKU students, Leung said it was his vision also to include HKU-Shenzhen Hospital in Futian and private Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital in Wong Chuk Hang.

Starting this year, all HKU medical students would take turns to train in the mainland hospital, which is co-managed by HKU and the Shenzhen government, he revealed.
It will allow them to be exposed to the treatment of a wider range of rare diseases otherwise not seen in Hong Kong.

The curriculum will also be expanded to cover experience of working in HKU’s first private hospital, the Gleneagles in Wong Chuk Hang, which will open next year.

The hospital, co-managed by NWS Holdings and Singapore Parkway Pantai, would allow students to learn very different skills not available in the public sector, he said.

For example, its clinical operations, patient expectations, nature of treatment and types of medicine offered to private patients will be far different from those available in the public sector.

Leung stressed the aim of cooperating with Gleneagles was not to make money, but allow the school to focus on education and medical research.

“As a medical school, we have to consider that half of our students will work as public doctors and half will join the private sector,” Leung said. “If we just tell them to try on their own but do not provide them [the experience] of working in the private sector, this is not the way for responsible educators.”

Currently, public hospitals employ 60 per cent of the city’s doctors while taking care of 90 per cent of patients in terms of days spent in hospital, while the private sector employs 40 per cent of doctors while taking care of just 10 per cent of patients. .

HKU trains around 235 medical students a year. It is in keen competition with the only other training institution, Chinese University, in fighting for top students. Both schools provide around 450 new doctors to the city every year.

To ensure standards, Leung said Gleneagles and HKU-Shenzhen would only employ HKU medical professors as chiefs of service, Leung said.