13 major stints over three years

Dr Hou Minsheng used to aspire to work in the emergency department, but over time, he decided to switch to family medicine.
Dr Hou Minsheng used to aspire to work in the emergency department, but over time, he decided to switch to family medicine.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

In his early years of medical school, Dr Hou Minsheng, 30, aspired to work in a hospital's emergency department.

But over time, his interests veered towards family medicine. Instead of treating patients' immediate problems, he wanted to make a long-term impacton their lives. "At first, I was keen on the speed and adrenaline rush of emergency medicine. But over the years, my convictions changed," he said.

Now, Dr Hou is in the third year of his family medicine training at the National University Hospital, and will graduate next July.

Family medicine is a discipline that does not focus on any organ or body part. Instead, doctors are trained to treat patients as a whole. This all-encompassing reach means that Dr Hou has to go through 13 major rotations over three years.

 

These stints - which can range from one month in the ophthalmology department to six weeks in children's emergency - will give him a broad overview of all the things that a family medicine doctor needs to know. He also spends time at polyclinics once a week, on top of conducting home visits and attending to patients in nursing homes.

"One moment I could be seeing a newborn with jaundice; another moment it could be an 80-year-old grandmother with dementia," he said.

SEEING ALL KINDS OF PATIENTS

One moment I could be seeing a newborn with jaundice; another moment it could be an 80-year-old grandmother with dementia.

DR HOU MINSHENG, on the wide range of cases he sees as a family physician.

And when the need arises, he refers patients to the appropriate specialists.

"It can be challenging to know everything in detail and... that's what the three years are for," Dr Hou said. "We try to learn the ropes as best as we can."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline '13 major stints over three years'. Print Edition | Subscribe