University of Hong Kong medical school adds private sector training for students

By staff writer, with additional reporting by Ben Pang

HKU medical students will now get to observe treatments of rare diseases in a Shenzhen hospital and gain vital experience in working in private hospitals

By staff writer, with additional reporting by Ben Pang |

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Gabriel Leung Cheuk-wai’s medical students can now expect to train in the private as well the public sector.

Public hospitals won’t be the only training grounds for medical students from the University of Hong Kong’s medical school. The top medical school will extend its training programmes this year from the public Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam to the private Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital in Wong Chuk Hang and the HKU-Shenzhen Hospital in Futian, Shenzhen.

Starting this year, all HKU medical students will take turns training in the mainland hospital, which is co-managed by HKU and the Shenzhen government. It will allow them to see the treatment of rare diseases otherwise not seen in Hong Kong.

Experts from University College London have been asked for advice 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 HKU medicine faculty dean Gabriel Leung Cheuk-wai, 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.”

Students will also get the experience of working in HKU’s first private hospital, the Gleneagles, which will open next year. The hospital, co-managed by NWS Holdings and Singapore Parkway Pantai, would allow students to learn skills not available in the public sector.

For example, clinical operations, the expectations of patients, treatments and the types of medicine offered to patients will be very different in private hospitals compared to the understaffed public hospitals.

Ng Po-shing, the director of Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre, told Young Post that the reform was a response to the growing trend for medical students to have experience in both the private and public sectors.

“The Chinese University (CUHK) is already offering a bachelor’s degree course called Medicine (Global Physician-Leadership Stream). This programme is appealing as it helps students get a global vision. The HKU medical school is only following in the footsteps what other medical schools in the city or overseas [are offering],” said Ng.

Ng said the reform would encourage more top scorers to opt to study at the HKU medical school. “The new programmes involve training courses at HKU-Shenzhen Hospital and the Gleneagles. It is very appealing for students who want to work in private sectors or overseas hospitals.”

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

Moses Lam Ka-nam, a first year medical student at HKU, said the new change was eye-opening. “It would help us get exposure to different clinical environments, and shape us into more experienced doctors by looking at a variety diseases and practising at both private and public hospitals,” he said.