Dr. William CHEUNG: A generous benefactor remembers his roots
|This sharing of experience with younger people is a very fulfilling experience.|
|Dr. William CHEUNG|
Dr. William CHEUNG (MBChB 1987) may live and work in New York as a private doctor. But his heart and passion to help young medical students remain in Hong Kong.
Besides being a specialist in internal medicine, hematology and oncology, Dr. CHEUNG is also very much a philanthropist — for he has set up a HKD1 million dollar scholarship fund for medical undergraduates from his alma mater, The Chinese University of Hong Kong — who wish to experience the practicality of life as a private doctor in New York.
But having summer interns in his clinic is nothing new. For the past five years, Dr. CHEUNG has been hosting interns. Every summer he took in two to three students for 6 to 8 weeks picked by the New Asia College Alumni Association of Greater New York.
For the first three years he had no medical students. But two years ago he mentioned to the College he would like students from the medical school for a change and got his wish.
Then he had a “light bulb” moment when a friend of his — a lawyer specialising in patent rights — recruited four students each year for his office, also in New York.
“He got these students to help do scientific research, publish patent rights papers or help write patent rights laws,” Dr. CHEUNG said.
“And this gave me lots of inspiration,” he added, “I was thinking if he could do that, how come I can’t bring medical students to my office each summer? So that gave me the idea of starting my own scholarship and bringing more medical students to my office to have hands-on experience.”
Dr. CHEUNG says any medical student can apply for his scholarship but he reminded potential applicants that his clinic setting is not for academic or institutionalised patient care. “We are in the community. It’s like dealing with your private doctor or family doctor.”
“From this experience, the student should understand how to interact with patients and also what’s involved from a doctors’ perspective, not from the patients’ perspective.”
Dr. CHEUNG pointed out that students can experience the workings of the private health insurance system in the US. Most of Hong Kong’s experience of private care is limited to internal medicine such as cough, fever or common children’s colds.
But in New York city, the private setting is more sophisticated and more advanced because of the private insurance payment system. This forces a lot of patients to receive different types of medical care in the private sector.
Two CUHK medical students, Erica CHAN (Medicine Year 3) and Winter FUNG (Medicine Year 3), have already experienced internships at Dr. CHEUNG’s New York clinic, and they have nothing but praise and gratitude for Dr. CHEUNG.
Erica was an intern there in 2014 for nearly eight weeks, and she says she learnt a lot about how a clinic operates, how a family doctor consults with patients, give diagnoses and treatments, but more importantly she discovered how the medical system in the US was significantly different from the one in Hong Kong.
“Medical insurance plays a crucial part in the whole system,” Erica said. “From the moment you enter the clinic, the staff will begin to deal with the insurance. They would ask the patient if they have any insurance plan as the plan would affect the drugs prescribed by the doctor, and the staff needed to fill in all the claim forms after each consultation.”
Erica says her experience in New York was a valuable lesson on how medical insurance may work in the private sector.
Winter did her summer internship last year and remembers how she was able to get first-hand experience such as checking the vital signs of patients and administering influenza vaccines.
“Dr. CHEUNG not only teaches but asks you to do research online and present the findings to him. This kind of learning skills is exactly what a medical student needs,” Winter says.
She also learnt how important history-taking is for a doctor. “Without the medical history, we would have no idea of the risk factors of the patients and what to do with the patient.”
Winter says the internship provided her with a vision of how to become a good doctor as well as equipping her with basic clinical knowledge.
Both Erica and Winter are encouraging medical undergraduates who want to experience and learn what they had under Dr. CHEUNG’s tutelage to apply for the scholarship.
The so-named William Cheung Scholarship Endowment Fund will offer two awards to support MBChB undergraduates to pursue overseas elective studies during the summer at his affiliated medical centres in the US.
Dr. CHEUNG says he set up the scholarship not to gain fame or recognition. “This sharing of experience with younger people is a very fulfilling experience. It’s like the pleasure one feels when receiving a gift. The fact that you can be part of their growing up … it’s a wonderful feeling”.
Dr. CHEUNG adds that his donation of HKD1 million dollars should last a decade or, hopefully, longer.