New Master of HKUMed’s Student Residences Readies for Change
For Dr Chung Pui Hong, returning to the Madam S H Ho Residence for Medical Students and the Patrick Manson Student Residence as the residences’ Master is both nostalgic and an opportunity to bring joy to his juniors during a crucial time in their university careers.
His first experience of the medical residence was in the early 1990s when he sought a calmer environment to focus on his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme. At the time, he was juggling revision with the demands of hall activities at St John’s College and his role as Sports Captain for the Medical Society.
To this day, the Madam S H Ho and Patrick Manson Residences operate a pared-down social calendar compared to the University of Hong Kong’s more exuberant halls.
Unlike St John’s, which competes in various inter-hall tournaments, the residences focus on providing a quiet environment for students in their senior years of HKUMed’s MBBS and Bachelor of Nursing programme.
Dr Chung, who is a Clinical Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Public Health, said he will uphold this delicate balance. However, he is eager for residents to keep up their extracurricular activities to develop skills ranging from negotiation to dealing with failure.
“All our students are very brilliant in their high school days and may not have had the feeling of failure during their early years,” he said. “But through sports, you will sometimes lose a game, but then you practise and do better next time. That’s one way to learn how to handle stress.”
The paediatric doctor-turned-public health expert was appointed to the role in July. He takes on the position as HKUMed prepares to replace the residences with two Clinical Training Amenities Buildings to provide improved housing for clinical MBBS and nursing students.
Scheduled to open within the next five years, the first building will be constructed next to RC Lee Hall on Sassoon Road, followed by the redevelopment of the current Madam S H Ho location into a second Clinical Training Amenities Building.
In their current form, the two residences offer more than 280 beds to MBBS and nursing students. The Madam S H Ho Residence, which is tucked away at the top of Sassoon Road, offers single rooms with shared bathrooms, study areas, a basic gym and a communal area on the roof with views across Pokfulam .
The Patrick Manson Student Residence offers double, triple, or quadruple rooms, alongside its communal facilities.
Medical students completing specialty rotations in obstetrics and gynaecology, medicine, surgery and paediatrics have priority for places in the halls to give them easier access to Queen Mary Hospital.
Additionally, senior students completing specialty clerkships in other specialties, or those preparing for exams, are able to apply for a space.
Dr Chung was appointed Master following a final round of interviews conducted by student representatives. Describing being put on the spot for varied ideas for hall activities, Dr Chung said his suggestions, fortunately, appealed to their interests.
The interview panel, who were on the cusp of graduation, liked the idea of hiking trips with doctors from various specialties or the flower jamming workshops his wife could offer, but were disappointed the events would happen after they moved out.
“I made a promise that even when they’ve graduated, we will invite them back, and we kept our promise,” he said. “It’s very important as a teacher and as a senior that we keep our promises.”
Dr Chung has already led a hiking trip to High West. The outing gave residents the opportunity to chat with him informally about paediatrics and public health as well as a chance to meet experts in other fields.
He looks forward to the newly-formed Residence Committee helping to generate ideas for activities that best represent the interests of their fellow students.
And he expects the committee and residents will lend their views to help shape the new Clinical Training Amenities Buildings that will replace the residences.
He joins the RMS after a particularly busy start to 2022. In February, Dr Chung formed part of a HKUMed team that set up and staffed Community Isolation Facilities (CIF) for elderly patients with COVID-19 who were unable to return to their care homes until they cleared the infection.
Hong Kong’s fifth wave of COVID-19 infections threw Dr Chung back into frontline medicine to experience his first on-call shifts since his years serving in paediatrics. In the CIF’s first week, his only option for rest at night was a sleeping bag on the floor of a room in the sports centre housing the impromptu ward.
Despite the long hours and challenging conditions, he describes the experience in a positive light. Particularly the opportunity to hold teaching sessions with HKUMed students who were working at the CIF.
“Of course, our students are very bright. At the same time, during these three months in the CIF, I really felt how hungry they are for learning,” he said.