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Practising Medicine in Hong Kong

Thinking of studying Medicine in Hong Kong? In this blog, Dr Charles Brantly, a UK-trained GP who completed the Hong Kong licentiate process in 2015, writes about practising Medicine in Hong Kong.

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Any prospective medical student in Hong Kong is faced with a tricky dilemma: do they pursue an undergraduate course overseas or in one of the two local universities? There are many reassuring similarities between foreign and local institutions, as I found out when I did a medical elective in Hong Kong as a student from Imperial, London, in 2008. The local students read the same textbooks I did, wore the same white coats and worked up to the same terrifying final exams at the end of their 5-6 years of studying.

It is stating the obvious that there are also many differences between what I might have experienced in West London compared to what you’ll see in Sha Tin. The point I would make is that these differences are healthy and will suit certain individuals more than others. A medical student may have financial, social or purely academic reasons for wanting to go to a certain medical school over another and this is very important. Everyone has their own set of values and priorities to help them decide. But remember that you only get to read medicine once and the school you go to can form the foundation of your entire career.

What is the Hong Kong Medical Licensing Exam?

It is true that as a profession we doctors are not as internationally mobile as our banking, accounting or legal colleagues. An overseas doctor must first go through the infamous licentiate process before being allowed to practice in Hong Kong. The Medical Council of Hong Kong is very careful about who they allow to work in our community and they have made their requirements clear.

But it remains that you can be a medical graduate from almost anywhere in the world and still work in Hong Kong as a doctor if you pass their assessment. No preference is given to graduates from Oxbridge or Ivy League, young or old, specialist or generalist, you just have to be the real deal and prove it under test conditions. This should come as no great challenge for the vast majority of doctors who have made a habit of passing exam after exam.

Where should I study?

I would encourage any prospective student to think about which institution or healthcare system inspires them and fills them with excitement to learn about medicine. It is myopic to think that you should turn down the opportunity to study overseas in order to avoid an exam (which you can probably pass!). The right medical school will bring out the best in you from the start and turn you into the sort of doctor who can overcome any challenge.

If decide to study abroad and wish return to Hong Kong in the future as a doctor, you should be confident and competent enough to face whatever the Medical Council throws at you.

If, on the other hand, you wish to apply to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) or the University of Hong Kong (HKU), do it because they are your number one choice, and not because they might afford you one less exam in your life!

Words: Dr Brantly

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