The Dean's Letter by Professor Chak-sing Lau | November 2022

The most urgent of those needs is for more space to accommodate our activities and to facilitate our ambitions. A lack of sufficient physical space has plagued the Faculty for as long as we have existed. I’m very pleased to confirm that after years of effort and planning, we are making great progress in addressing this problem. The opening of the No. 3 Sassoon Road building in the summer is only the first step in our physical expansion plans. Tying all these pieces together is what I see as the mission of our Faculty going forward. We have excellent students and researchers and a strong heritage of service to the Hong Kong community (it is our 135th anniversary this year), and we have much respect in the region and the world for our achievements. But there is no time to rest on our laurels. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic and geopolitical events that have followed, have shown us how inadequate our understanding of the world can be. We need to look down the line and start rethinking now what our medical school should be like in five, 10 and 25 years. What training will be necessary for future doctors? What areas should our research efforts be directed towards? Where will our opportunities lie and how can we make the most of our position at the global front gate of the Greater Bay Area (GBA)? These questions do not have fast or easy answers. But in these past few months, with valued input from staff and students, some obvious directions over the short to medium term have become apparent. Fit-for-purpose HKUMed works very hard to attract outstanding students, whatever their backgrounds, and prepare them to become capable and safe doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. Our guiding principle in this is equity over elitism. Every student is provided with unique opportunities to develop both professionally and personally, particularly in the Enrichment Year curriculum which I was privileged to have developed for the MBBS when I was Associate Dean. The EY initiative has now been extended to several other undergraduate programmes in modified forms and it has produced wonderful results. Our students have dived into research, served underprivileged communities, acquired new knowledge and even earned additional degrees. They have each entered their enrichment periods with purpose and a plan, which is developed with full support from the Faculty. The first MBBS cohort to have undergone an Enrichment Year graduated this year, and I am certain that the experiences will make them more thoughtful and compassionate doctors as they venture into their careers. Having said that, our medical curriculum, like curricula everywhere, is facing challenges from the deepening body of medical and scientific knowledge. It is no longer possible for medical students to ‘learn it all’, especially as new knowledge changes our understanding of health and disease as well as our practices. We have therefore launched a Working Group for MBBS Curriculum Reform that is looking closely at how we teach and assess our medical students, and how we can ensure they graduate with the critical skills needed to succeed. 6