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Speech by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food


Following is a speech (English only) by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, at the Graduation and Prize Presentation Ceremony of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong today (December 9):

Vice-Chancellor, professors, doctors, graduates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be amongst you to share your happiness on this very special day. This graduation and prize presentation ceremony marks a milestone for all our graduates as, after years of hard work, you are about to embark on a career of your choice.

Time really flies. For those of you who had their orientation day in September 1997, I can still remember vividly how I talked to you about the challenges you had to face in your pursuit of a career in medicine. After five years, as I look at your smiling faces, I am sure that you have succeeded in overcoming these challenges and equipping yourselves with the knowledge and skills to take on heavier responsibilities, and to serve the community with pride, enthusiasm and professionalism. I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to you all.

While joining your teachers and families to celebrate your achievements and new beginning today, I would also like to emphasise the need to maintain the highest standard of medical care in the face of continuous change and innovation. The gradual mapping out of the human genome, recent advances in genetic engineering and the application of information technology to medical treatment have revolutionised the way we deliver our health services, and will continue to do so in a much faster pace in the years ahead. As a healthcare professional in this knowledge-based era, we must upgrade our medical knowledge and clinical skills continuously.

Just keeping abreast with up-to-date medical knowledge is not adequate. We need to ask ourselves - what is a good doctor and nurse? The same question is often raised by the community. Good doctors and nurses should be good companions for people. People want doctors to possess the following essential qualities -

* Care about people, not just about illnesses;

* Look at the patients, not the numbers;

* Respect people, healthy or ill, regardless of who they are;

* Let people talk and listen to them with your heart;

* Support patients and their loved ones when and where they are needed;

* Promote health as well as treat disease;

* Embrace the power of information and communication technologies to support people with the best available information, while respecting their individual values and preferences;

* Give unbiased advice, let people participate actively in all decisions related to their health and health care, assess each situation carefully, and help whatever the situation is;

* Use research evidence as a tool, not as a determinant of practice;

* Work cooperatively with other members of the health care team; and

* Be proactive advocates for their patients, mentors for other health care professionals, and ready to learn from them.

To prepare you for meeting the increasing expectations, in 1997 the Faculty of Medicine undertook the most extensive revision of its medical curriculum since its foundation in the 19th century. The goal of the new curriculum is to produce doctors with demonstrated competence in the understanding and delivery of effective, humane, economic and ethical medical care together with a commitment to lifelong learning.

The healthcare professions are among those few professions which give their practitioners the unique opportunity to interact with people every day. You need to combine your talent and passion developed at this Faculty with creativity, compassion and sensitivity to make your future career successful and rewarding. You need to work hard to earn patients' trust. You need to develop an abundance of patience; to explain and educate before prescribing drugs; and to think about the proper decision. Taking time to explain and understand, choosing the language to fit each and every patient, sharing the suffering from disease not only in a biological but also in a social sense, these are skills that a good doctor and a good nurse definitely needs to keep developing. A good doctor and a good nurse should always admit that he or she is human and has limits, but these boundaries must not stunt us. I therefore encourage you to be a lifelong learner making continuous quality improvement, embrace discovery, adhere to the highest ethical principle, use your own hands to feel all that is hidden from your eyes and to cure our patients and bring hope to them wholeheartedly. I can see there are plenty of good doctors and good nurses around and I trust you have the capabilities and, most important of all, the will to do so.

Graduates, you are a privileged group because you have received excellent education and care from your devoted teachers and families. May I take this opportunity to show our appreciation to them who have all along been supportive and providing you with guidance. I am confident that with your commitment and hard work, we will work together make Hong Kong a better and healthier place to live. I wish you every success in your future endeavours.

Thank you.

End/Monday, December 9, 2002


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