31 Mar 2011


One morning last month, Szeto was rather busy and conducted a quick ward round. In the middle of the session, he overheard a medical student whisper to his classmate, “I thought renal physicians teach!”

When Szeto told us this story, we all found it hilarious. It was like complaining Feng Qingyang for not teaching Huashan Swordplay when he could actually demonstrate the Nine Swords of Dugu.

A few days later, a student representative reported his classmates’ view on clinical teaching at our department meeting. This led to heated discussion on how clinical medicine should be taught. Most professors stressed that we should not spoon feed students by providing a lot of factual knowledge at ward rounds and tutorials. Rather, if the students knew the patients and their clinical progress, they should have already learned much by observing how clinicians made decisions on treatment.

Last year, after our Boss took up the post as the VC, JW arranged some media interviews to celebrate the event. Somehow, I was labeled as the last trainee of Boss. What an honor!

During the interview, I had to recall how Boss taught me. The reflection surprised me. During my entire training from medical student to specialist, I had one tutorial by him on inflammatory bowel disease. He also observed me do one gastroscopy and one ERCP. Both procedures failed. That’s all. According to today’s standard, I should file a complaint at the College for not receiving proper teaching.

But I learned much more than that. At ward rounds, he showed us how to care for patients and gain their trust. He showed us how to ask important questions. At casual talks, he shared his experience with a bad boss and a good boss, and how the past modeled his choices.

And for the rest, I cannot see why I cannot get the information from books and journals. I think this is more than enough. But how can I make our students believe this is really good enough?

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