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Experience as a HKCCM Academic AM trainee Print E-mail
The Quarterly 2012

Administrative Medicine is a subspecialty of the Hong Kong College of Community Medicine (HKCCM). Being the first Administrative Medicine trainee who underwent Administrative Medicine training in a tertiary academic institute, I would like to take this opportunity to share the challenges in this unusual and yet stimulating setting.

I was trained in an academic institution which is the first and the only comprehensive building dedicated to public health in Hong Kong. The focus of our institution conducts research across all areas of public health practice such as evaluating health service management, comparative health policy, designing sustainable health care systems, reproductive health, children’s health and infectious disease. It also provides under-graduates and post-graduates education, to both medical and non-medical students. I formally enrolled into the Administrative Medicine training programme when I took up the academic position. The setting of the academic institution that I worked for was quite different from an ordinary healthcare institute where Administrative Medicine training is traditionally conducted. Although medical students were taught in a clinic setting, facilitations were provided and managed by the Hospital Authority, rather than my department. Hence, I did not have opportunity to manage a medical ward or outpatient clinic. Nevertheless, it does require its staff to work independently, whilst providing lots of opportunities to develop leadership skills in various projects and teams. During my training, I participated in and acted as investigator in a number of research projects focusing on health system, policy and health services management. I was also responsible for the administrative work of the School and was heavily involved in the development and implementation of the under-graduate curriculum in the Public Health programme.

There are several advantages in training in this setting. It is a rich training ground for acquiring insights to the theoretical basis of all training competencies in a structured manner. I taught both medical and non-medical students, and conducted health services research when I was an academic staff. Because of the job nature, substantial review of health related literature including books, journals and various sources of information is required. This enables trainees to systematically build the theoretical foundation of health service management. The academic setting also provides easier access to numerous local and international academic conferences and workshops, which provides the opportunity to discuss and share health management skills from a wider and global perspective. In addition, my department works closely with other health authorities that provide the opportunity to work with different government officials and seniors of health authorities, and to observe real policy makers in action.

As the academic institution that I worked for does not provide health services, additional exposures to hospital operation and management is required in order to acquire all the training competencies as stipulated by the HKCCM. A secondment to a healthcare organization is very important in this regard. Competencies such as quality and safety, health services planning and health services delivery model restructuring, are better acquired in a ‘clinical’ attachment. I was fortunate to be designated as an assistant to the hospital chief executive of a local regional hospital, concurrent to my academic role, which provided me with the opportunity to be involved in projects that involved change management and communication, quality and patient safety as well as health services planning.

One major challenge of these combined training roles is time management. The hospital and academic institute are two different organizations. The nature of two organizations, missions, workflow and requirements are entirely different resulting in competing time demands between the two roles. As a trainee, my full time appointment was in the academic institution. Unfortunately, I was not able to make the secondment in the hospital a separate, full time appointment. This imposed limits to the types of work and responsibilities I could undertake in the hospital without compromising my role at the academic institution.

In a nutshell, academic setting provided a good platform for Administrative Medicine training. Hospital attachment provided hospital operations and management experiences to augment the training in an academic setting. To enhance efficiency in training, a separate, non-concurrent full time secondment should be considered for those who are training in Administrative Medicine in an academic setting.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisor, Prof EK Yeoh. He internalizes my thinking to a 'system perspective'. This has been invaluable to me during the fellowship examinations, as well as to my current role as a medical administrator.


Dr Frank Chan