HKBU’s School of Chinese Medicine: Cultivating Generations of Talents
An Interview with Alumni Professor Vincent Chung, Dr Ng Chi-sun and Dr Lam Chun-pong
HKBU, the first institution funded by the University Grants Committee to offer undergraduate education in Chinese medicine (CM) and pharmacy in CM in Hong Kong, established the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) in 1999. Over the past two decades, the SCM has been dedicated to offering high quality academic programmes for nurturing talents who provide first-class CM healthcare services. We are delighted to have three alumni who are early graduates of the SCM to give their sharing. They are Professor Vincent Chung, Associate Professor of the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, CUHK; Dr Ng Chi-sun, Assistant Commissioner for Chinese Medicine Development and Consultant Chinese Medicine Practitioner of HKSAR Government; and Dr Lam Chun-pong, Lecturer of the School of Chinese Medicine- Teaching and Research Division, HKBU. They shared their memories at HKBU and expressed their thoughts on HKBU being selected to operate Hong Kong’s first Chinese Medicine Hospital (CMH) and the prospect of CM development.
Solid Foundation Rooted in HKBU
The three alumni witnessed the development and enhancement of alma mater in the academic programmes and healthcare services of CM over the years. The programme was sophisticatedly designed, and they had spent a lot of time at the HKBU library to catch up with the intensive curriculum. When touching upon HKBU’s academic programmes in CM, Professor Chung said, “The Bachelor of Chinese Medicine & Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biomedical Science double-degree programme of HKBU combines knowledge in both CM and western medicine. It also covers pharmacy in CM and is delivered by excellent teachers. This does not only lay a solid foundation for students, but also paves the way for future development.” Dr Ng recalled his studies at HKBU that the programme design and learning ambience jointly fostered intimate relationships between teachers and students and among peers, as he still had gatherings with them after graduation. Dr Lam also highlighted, “Being the first local tertiary institution to offer undergraduate education in CM, HKBU became the pioneer in cultivating talents for the industry, and they established an extensive network in the industry which helped attract more opportunities for graduates.”
The Key to Multiple Roles
The SCM of HKBU did cultivate countless professionals who are thriving in the CM industry. The three alumni currently serve various roles in the industry, including clinical diagnosis, teaching at universities and participating in CM-related work groups of the Government, making contribution to society at large. Regarding taking up multiple roles, Dr Lam commented, “‘Holistic Diagnosis and Treatment’, the fundamental principle of CM, is basically applied to the work of different roles, while the only difference is the service target.” Dr Ng supplemented, “As a CM practitioner, we need to tackle the health problem of clients, and this is the direct application of principle. As a teacher, the questions from students trigger me to reexamine my academic knowledge and know-how on clinical inspection. Moreover, when I participate in formulation of policies, I realise the importance of communication and understanding as I learn to view from different perspectives, and to understand the concerns of each other for reaching a consensus.” Professor Chung also pointed out, “To handle a number of roles tactfully, we have to possess the ability of identifying the main cause of a problem, and know how to utilise the resources available to achieve the best outcome.” In summary, communication is fundamental for managing multiple roles, while analytical and problem-solving abilities are also essential.
Flagship of Chinese Medicine Development
HKBU was selected by the Government as the contractor for the service deed of Hong Kong’s first CMH in June 2021. The three alumni all felt proud of their alma mater for shouldering the noble mission, and they had different anticipation on the development of the CMH. Professor Chung hoped the CMH could alleviate Hong Kong’s current healthcare problem. He explained, “I think the primary mission of the CMH is to divert the pressure of medical services, as the current waiting time for the specialist out-patient clinics managed by the Government is too long and the number of beds of rehabilitation day hospital is inadequate. Furthermore, the CMH will serve as a good platform for teaching, providing students with practical specialist training and clinical inspection references. Meanwhile, it can also demonstrate how CM helps tackle the problem of medical services.” In addition, Dr Lam expects the CMH to sustain CM heritage in Hong Kong and propel the development of CM in clinical diagnosis and teaching on the basis of a hospital system. Dr Ng also expressed, “It is absolutely not easy to operate Hong Kong’s first CMH, as it is necessary to set up a new operation model applicable to Hong Kong. I am delighted to learn that our alma mater is taking up this historic mission. I hope the CMH can play the role as the flagship of CM development, sharing the beneficial outcome with the industry.”
Passing on the Torch
The Government has strived to boost the development of CM in recent years. While the CMH is expected to commence its service in 2025, the three alumni believed that the CM development of Hong Kong would scale new heights. They would like to advise young graduates not to miss the golden opportunity. Dr Ng encouraged young people, “Being young is already an advantage, because young people are closer to the trend, and they keep up with the times. As long as they are passionate enough, they will be able to unleash their potential for further development.” Dr Lam also trusted that there were several possible paths for CM graduates, and it was crucial for them to possess good communication skills and to have a sound understanding of the landscape of the industry and trends in society. Young graduates should prepare themselves well for the development in their interested aspect. Last but not least, Professor Chung shared his experience that it was important for young people to be resilient and energetic; even though they would probably encounter frustration, they should stay perseverant to keep moving forward.