Message from the President, G. Tang, October 2008
Teaching and Training
In November 2008, we shall be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (HKAM). It took some 30 years to realise the idea of having our own postgraduate specialist training organisation and programme. Since 1993, HKAM has grown in its Fellowship from 2000 to now 5300, representing over half of the doctors in the territory. The steady growth owes much to the solid foundation that was laid 15 years ago through the wisdom of the Founding Academy Council. When I visit overseas academies and colleges and listen to the difficulties they face with government and the profession, I feel very blessed with what we have established in Hong Kong.
But, we must not rest on our laurels. We must continuously strive to do better in medical education. Teaching and training in medicine has undergone revolutionary changes from that of apprenticeship. It has become more systematic and is expected to be more thorough and objective. The education has the goal of producing doctors with many competencies armed with which they can face the challenges in their career ahead. This is a very laudable goal, but have we done it?
Unfortunately, randomised educational trials cannot be undertaken. The best evidence is obtained through controlled study and longitudinal observation. Do we have the data for Hong Kong? Another difficulty in medical education that we must acknowledge is that most, if not all, trainers have not undergone some formal education in teaching and training. Teaching and training is probably conducted according to the knowledge-based syllabus where many aspects of competencies are not included. To compound the situation, assessment methods, be they formative or summative, may not include all the aspects of assessing the doctor for competencies to becoming a specialist. Many a time, overseas examination formats are adopted. Do we know if social and cultural differences may have effects on the examination outcome?
I have put forward questions for teaching and training that have been going on for decades. At this moment of the 15th-year establishment of the HKAM, I think it is also time for us to reflect on the teachers and the trainers after we have dedicated a lot of attention to the trainees. I salute the teachers and trainers for their devotion in the development of medicine. I am of the opinion that they deserve to be supported in their tasks through workshops and seminars where their skills in this aspect can be polished and sustained. I also view that HKAM must take on research in postgraduate education to stand by the expression ‘evidence-based practice’.
Let us join hands to make teaching and training our ever thriving and rewarding task.