While I am more encouraged by the current selection process of medical students than Ms Lee Soh Hong ("Train doctors to get rich in love and compassion"; last Saturday), I share her concerns on the importance of moulding these young students into competent and compassionate doctors.
As a clinical tutor, I can assure Ms Lee that the medical school's curriculum has, indeed, in recent years, placed more emphasis on developing empathy and compassion among its students.
However, in addition to inculcating positive traits in medical students, it is important that we continue their development with a favourable work environment in clinics and hospitals after they have graduated from medical school. If we wish to see them blossoming into doctors with empathy, compassion, patience, kindness and humility, it is imperative that senior doctors become good role models for them.
When younger doctors are placed in an environment where senior doctors show a lack of respect for others, whether patients or fellow healthcare professionals, and show a blatant lack of empathy, will it not be surprising if they were to imbibe such traits over time as well?
Furthermore, if these younger doctors are subjected to repeated chastisement, ridicule and criticism that are far from constructive, will it not be more likely that they, too, will do the same to future generations?
Happily, I know of far more cases of medical colleagues who have been positive role models.They have my utmost respect.
I know many medical students and young doctors who want to embrace the ideals expected of the profession. Let us facilitate their development with a nurturing workplace culture filled with warmth, respect, gentleness and humility. We owe them, and our patients, no less.
John Hui Keem Peng (Dr)