Dr Kwan Leung Chia: on the pandemic frontline in Hong Kong

Dr Kwan Leung Chia (Doctor of Medicine 2016)

  •  Medical Officer, Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, Hong Kong
  • Honorary Clinical Tutor, the University of Hong Kong
  • Adjunct Associate Lecturer, Flinders University
  • President, Chinese Medicine South Australia Incorporated
  • Dual Practitioner (Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Registered Medical Practitioner)
  • Specialist Trainee in Public Health Medicine

 What are you working on during the pandemic?

I am one of the frontline staff members at the Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health in Hong Kong. I’m a member of the Home Quarantine Taskforce, which ensures that people under home quarantine orders are medically well, compliant with the requirements, and able to access round-the-clock medical attention via a telemedicine service which informs clinical decision-making.

Apart from rostered clinical service, I have also assisted to refine the operational system of the Home Quarantine Taskforce to make it more efficient, including the referral and collaboration system with public hospitals, immigration, port health, police, social welfare departments, the quarantine centre and camps, so that they work together at a high standard towards the common goal.

 Why did you choose to study at Flinders University? What made it stand out from other universities?

A friend was studying medicine at Flinders when I began researching universities to apply to, and he highly recommended it, often reiterating the program’s strength in early clinical exposure so that graduates would be more competent, confident and genuinely ready for the workplace. That clearly piqued my interest and from there the online application system was super convenient to use with readily available help, and as an international student I was not required to seek agency support during the application process. Even better, I thought the tuition fee was relatively affordable!

 What is your favourite memory from your time at Flinders, or your favourite lecturer?

I have so many fond memories of my time at Flinders! Three things in particular stand out:

  • my rural placement experience in third year enhanced my understanding of health inequity and inequalities, thus stimulating my interests in public health medicine.
  • in my fourth year I was elected as a member of the University Council. The opportunity of being elected to become a member of the governing body of the University offered me great insights of how Flinders is led, managed, and contributed by a team of dedicated volunteer experts from different professions.
  • I co-authored an award-winning research article chosen by the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

 What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?

I was appointed as a medical intern to work at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney, in addition to joining the University of New South Wales Sydney as conjoint associate lecturer to provide bedside teaching to medical students. I also passed the Licensing Examination of the Medical Council of Hong Kong to obtain the license to practice medicine in Hong Kong.

 Have you maintained connections with fellow students or academics since graduating?

I have remained close to many of my colleagues from University, even though we have spread out to jobs in different Australian states and other countries. I’ve also maintained close contact with my favourite Professor, Rainer Haberberger and the Flinders Alumni Team.

 How did your time at Flinders University change you both professionally and personally?

My Flinders medical degree, combined with my undergraduate degree in Chinese medicine, provide an interesting combination rarely seen in the professions. Personally, I am able to communicate effectively and confidently in English with different people in different settings.

Who has inspired you the most in life – personally or professionally?

My wife, Tung Ping Chan who has wholeheartedly supported my personal and professional development. We had a long-distance relationship for five years before she quit her job in Hong Kong to move to Adelaide to accompany me during my studies. Now, she is the full-time mother of our Flinders Medical Centre-born baby boy Ian Chia. It’s very cool that he was born in the same place where I assisted in delivering a baby when I was a student.

What are your future goals and plans?

In 2019, I established an innovative public health initiative and a registered charity called Chinese Medicine South Australia Incorporated to promote integrative medicine, with a long-term goal to reduce health inequalities by improving the health of rural and remote South Australians through self-management to reduce the need for health services, which are often sacred in rural areas. I am planning for a digital social marketing campaign and proposal to attract funding.

I hope that my international frontline public health experience will be beneficial to Australia’s health system – I intend to bring the specialist knowledge, skills and experience back to Australia after I have obtained my medical specialist qualification.

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