Letters to the Editor
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Training the Future Doctors
The speeches by Dr Chen Ai Ju, Director of Medical Services, and Mr Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Health, have completed the chapter on contemporary thinking on the training of the doctor in the future. We need to train the specialists well. We also need to train the family doctors equally well. In this issue, the advance training programme of the family doctor is highlighted.
Training requires leadership and direction. The idea of having postgraduate deans in the hospitals described by Mr Koh Yong Guan, the Permanent Secretary for Health, in a speech in the Singapore General Hospital, a year ago, is a step in the right direction. In the same vein, we also need postgraduate deans in our polyclinics.
The role model, the ethical and the human side of doctoring were highlighted in the 1997 SMA Lecture given by Dr Wong Heck Sing. He reminded the audience of what Dr Gwee Ah Leng observed more than 20 years ago, "a fool without morals is only a nuisance, but an intelligent mind bereft of scruples is a danger to society."
One may attempt to synthesise the ideas articulated. The vision is to produce five-star doctors. We also need to produce ethical and caring doctors. We can see the need to give the doctors in training, good role models to emulate. We also need to have teachers trained in the tasks of teaching. We need to teach our young doctors not only knowledge and skills but also impart to them the attitudes and the values of doctoring.
Of course, we need to balance service and teaching. Patients have a role to play too. There are many who have recounted their illnesses, or bared their bodies for examination in order that the medical students learn something important from the living books. We must be grateful for their contributions.
In a nutshell, we need a great number of components to ensure that we continue to produce doctors who will do the profession proud and doctors whom their patients will testify that they could not have found better ones to take care of them. We would not have trained in vain.
A/PROF GOH LEE GAN