State of the Faculty Address 2021

8 Let me relate a couple of stories I witnessed in the past month alone. I was visiting a colleague who was recently hospitalised on his birthday. Given COVID restrictions, there was no family visitation allowed. Just as I was leaving, a former medical student who is now almost ready to exit her specialist training came into the room with a takeout dinner from the hospital cafeteria, given that hospital meals were hardly appetising. I commended her for her thoughtfulness, and quietly alerted her that it was the patient’s birthday. She beamed back and showed me a chocolate bar she had in her whitecoat pocket, signalling that was going to be the “birthday cake” after dinner. That was what a caring doctor should look like. That was empathy. That was the art of medicine which our medical humanities programme aims to inculcate. And that was immeasurable by impact factor analysis. Another former colleague recently spent down much of her already dwindling political capital, against all odds internal and external, to push through a complete ban of all non-traditional tobacco products, including both electronic cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices. Why would a politician in today’s environment, risk her personal stakes over a piece of legislation, even if implemented with the desired effect, that would not allow her to win political plaudits? To underscore the science underpinning her new legislative fiat, another junior academic colleague effectively rendered his two children orphans for a month to rush through round after round of new analyses and simulations that culminated in an 80-page supplementary appendix. This herculean effort led to timely acceptance of the paper in a high profile journal that was disseminated in the lay media, which in turn directly and positively influenced the final session of the bill’s committee proceedings. The law finally passed third reading last month in the Legislative Council. That was an affirmation of 「上醫治國」. That was lifesaving impact of hundreds of thousands of tobacco-related deaths averted in the decades to come. And that was immeasurable by research metrics.