June 2008, Vol 30, No. 2

What to do with what we have learned?

Frederick C T Lee 李長智

HK Pract 2008;30:57-58

In life, we learn. What do we do with what we learned? We make use of what we learn, of course. I think, in life, there are 3 stages of learning. Firstly, we have the raw learning, everything learning from the very scratch, learning what we never knew before. Then, the second stage: we add on to what we have learned from the first stage. Lastly, we will learn when and when not to use what we learn, how we use our learning.

We are medical doctors. We started our medical learning by attending university and gaining our MBBS or MBChB. This was our first stage in learning. Then we joined the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians and became FHKCFPs after taking the next series of examinations. As fellows of the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, we did not stop learning and we continued to learn more and more. There is so much to learn. Indeed, we can add on and on. We gather more and more information. Finally, we feel we need to start to use what we have learned, to experience and think about all that we have learned. We now go on to the next stage of learning, by thinking how we should apply what we have already learned. We will broaden our pursuit of knowledge and join the academicians, the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine and will call ourselves FHKAMs. We specialise and join the fraternity of medical specialists in the discipline of Family Medicine.

In this issue of The Hong Kong Practitioner, we read about the Family Medicine Specialist Clinic in Yan Chai Hospital. Dr Martin Wong and his team report on the success of the FMSC model which introduces Family Medicine specialists into the total health care system at the Yan Chai Hospital. The report shows how the FMSC can enhance the cost-effectiveness in integrating high quality doctors and allowing them access to expensive equipments and investigations at the specialist clinics in collaboration with the Medical unit at the hospital.1 Until recently, there were only specialists in the more glamorous disciplines like Surgery, Cardiology, Paediatrics and so on in the Hospital Authority's specialist clinics. Today, we have the primary care Family Medicine specialists joining other secondary care specialists to conduct consultations at the Yan Chai Hospital specialists clinics. Yan Chai Hospital must be congratulated for developing this idea, setting a new model in their specialists clinics to see if this can give better care and more efficient operation. This also allows the implementation of what we family doctors are trained for and make use of what we are learning to achieve.

Indeed the biggest barriers to cost-effective learning are two: not knowing what to learn and how to make use of what we learn. We thank God for giving us the ability to learn and develop. And there is a lot to learn, to know and to discover. The quantity of knowledge has no limit for us to pick up. But simply gathering more and more information is not learning. We must not only add on quantitatively learning what we already know but also think of the quality of what we have learned and further shape our knowledge and its usefulness.

Hong Kong is blessed with the wealth we have. We are also blessed with the hospitals and the many facilities for investigations and treatments. In fact, we have everything here in Hong Kong that we can compare with other parts of the world and we are proud. But it has been said that even the best tools are no good without the best people to use them. All medical discoveries are great but they are also expensive. We are fortunate in that here in Hong Kong we have the doctors who have the opportunity to learn and use these facilities. Up to recently, only a group of special specialists can use them. The Hong Kong College of Family Physicians has come of age and produced a new generation of family doctors who can contribute to the medical scene in Hong Kong. Today, as Family Medicine specialists, we can contribute more and we are continuing to learn more. The more we know, the more we can help. But, knowing what to do with what we know is another issue. Thanks to Yan Chai Hospital's lead, the specialist Family Physicians are participating in the hospital's specialist clinics and given access to special investigations which is a way forward for Hong Kong's health-care delivery system.

We must never just stay in the second stage of learning in life. We must never stop learning but we must also pause to look at what we have learned, and how best we are to use it. Let us continue to learn, and not stop learning. And we will continue to contribute whatwe have learned while we continue to learn.

Frederick C T Lee, MBBS (HK), FHKCFP, FHKAM (Family Medicine),
Deputy Editor, The Hong Kong Practitioner

Correspondence to : Dr Frederick C T Lee, United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service, Bradbury Kwong Tin Community Health Centre, Unit 203, Kwong Tin Shopping Centre, Kwong Tin Estate, Lam Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR.

  1. Wong MCS, Chan ACY, Kwan WK, et al. Collaboration between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine - a new model of care for effective primary care. HK Pract 2008;30:60-69.