Innovative Medical Education: Helping the Best Give their Best
Set up 36 years ago, the CUHK Faculty of Medicine has recently been rated sixth among the medical schools in Asia by Quacquarelli Symonds, and the youngest on the top 10 league. The Faculty’s ranking success is reflective of its commitment to innovation, a trait that has made its mark on the Faculty’s curricular design and pedagogy.
Nicole Phoebe Tanner, a Year 5 medical student, is ready to vouch for the Faculty’s ‘ability to embrace change, creativity and diversity’. Enrolled in the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) programme, Nicole said that what she values most about the programme is ‘the space to be creative’.
It is this respect for creativity that helps spawn student-initiated projects. In fact, the Faculty of Medicine encourages innovation by building a strong research component in its curriculum.
The Faculty is intent on providing early research experience to students such that they can enrich their medical practice with biomedical knowledge and clinical research. Under the Summer Research Internship Programme, Year 1 or Year 2 medical students can undertake research over a span of two months with the guidance of scientists from the School of Biomedical Sciences.
Budding medical practitioners who have gained a firm foothold in biomedical sciences can better explain the scientific bases for diseases, and select the best form of treatment or management of diseases when they ply their trade in future.
Students interested in research can also conduct research under the tutelage of professors. In 2014, Nicole participated in a dementia research project initiated by her mentor Prof. Vincent Mok.
She is grateful for all her mentors who have encouraged her to dig into clinical research. “When I began pursuing research, they gave me their endless support and many opportunities to visit their labs and to attach to their projects. Such opportunities have helped me to initiate my own project, the ‘Virtual Research Lab.’”
By using the data gathered from the research project, Nicole and a team of students participated in a paper contest hosted by the East Asian Medical Students’ Conference. Nicole’s team managed to beat the other contestants from nine medical schools.
Mentorship aside, peer support has proved a boon to Nicole’s academic pursuits. Medical training can be demanding and stressful, and no one knows this better than your friends who are going through the same trials.
‘The demands of medicine have helped us grow closer to each other, and to learn to comfort and encourage each other to persist. I definitely would not have gone this far without the support of my friends.’
A strengthened research component is not the only feature that distinguishes CUHK’s medical education; in fact, the Faculty makes sure that its curricular design addresses both current and emerging needs of society.
‘The MB ChB programme is always changing and improving, and in the process, inspires its students to do the same.’
Testifying to the programme’s adaptability is the Global Physician Leadership Stream (GPS), a recent curricular change that aims to help promising students pursue their studies in an accelerated and streamlined manner through customized teaching, mentorship, humanitarian expeditions and more. The objective of GPS is to meet society’s demand for knowledgeable, civic-minded, and caring healers who put their patients’ interests first.
On top of GPS, the Faculty’s emphasis on professionalism and all-round development also informs the tenor of the MB ChB programme. Together with Columbia University, the Faculty is running an online, interactive bioethics course that tackles some of the most controversial and heated debates facing the medical community, such as genetic engineering. Internship opportunities are available at the Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response. For those who wish to extend their scope beyond the medical field, they can sign up for overseas exchange programmes in non-medicine subjects and exchange programmes organized by the Colleges. Research internships in overseas institutions are also available for CUHK medical students.
A member of GPS, Nicole is grateful that the initiative allows her to explore the world of medicine beyond textbook knowledge, offering learning opportunities otherwise unavailable to medical students, including humanitarian work and clinical research.
“I had the opportunity to participate in multiple clinical research projects in neurology, surgery, paediatrics and hepatology. I visited Sichuan to see how medicine could be applied in a rural setting. By applying my medical knowledge in different contexts, I am learning in action the value of medicine, and that to be a good doctor, one should be open-minded and diverse,’ said Nicole.
Nicole’s reflection on her medical training at CUHK is an example of how the determination to serve with humility can help us be our best and to give the best.
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018