15 Jan 2009

Role Model

One day, AJ asked a question suddenly. "What does 'xxxxxxx' mean?"

We were all confused by the seemingly ancient language. AJ took us to the endoscopy center, and showed us a work of Chinese calligraphy. Alas, he not only read a few words incorrectly, but also started reading from the wrong side! It should be '但開風氣不為師'.

'We do not teach. We set examples.' No one in our team ever claimed that this was our motto or core value, as some enterprises love stating. However, this is exactly what our predecessors did.

When I became a medical student, I only wanted to become a good doctor. I believed that first-class research did not exist in Hong Kong, where government support was little. Later, I found out that many people in the medical school conducted cutting-edge research despite limited resources. Many studies even radically changed clinical practice worldwide. These dedicated clinician-scientists also keep their role as competent clinicians. They are great role models for students and young doctors. They open a window for youngsters so that they dare dream big.

In my tutorials, I used to teach short-case examination. In essence, a candidate has to perform physical examination on a patient and try to figure out what the underlying diagnosis is. These are vital techniques for passing any professional examination. Last year, when a medical student requested an extra tutorial from me, I half-jokingly asked. "Do you want to learn how to pass the examination, or how to become a good doctor?" Much to my surprise, the answer was firm. "We want to learn how to become good doctors."

I was so ashamed on hearing the response. What was I doing? Why should I waste time teaching students how to pass an examination with over 90 percent passing rate, when many patients may die because of foolish judgements, and many more could not receive the love and attention they deserve? Since then, all my tutorials have become teaching rounds. We see patients together, greet them, chat with them, and discuss the proper clinical decision and management.

For students wondering why I have a different mode of teaching, this is my answer.

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