Awardee of 2020 UGC Teaching Award – Professor Carmen WONG

Case Study of Good T&L Practices > List of Case Studies > Professor Carmen WONG


Professor Carmen WONG
Clinical Professional Consultant
Associate Professor of Practice in Family Medicine and Medical Education
The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Awardee of 2020
(Category: General Faculty Members)

Professor Carmen Wong is Associate Professor of Medical Education and Family Medicine at the JC School of Public Health and Primary Care and Assistant Dean (Education) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

Professor Wong graduated from the Cardiff University School of Medicine (UK) with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (BSc) and Medicine (MBBCh). Professor Wong is a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (UK). She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) and obtained a Master of Science in Clinical Education (Edinburgh, UK).

Professor Wong is the coordinator of the Doctor and Patient course, Clinical Communications course and Family Medicine module in the Faculty of Medicine. In 2020, she received the Faculty Teaching Award, University Education Award and the University Grants Council (UGC) Teaching Award (General Faculty Members).

With educational research interests in the use of online learning and learner well-being and development, Professor Wong has received numerous teaching grants and her design thinking approach over the past decade encompasses works on the development of electronic educational tools, such as the CUHK medical audio glossary, for health professionals, blended learning in clinical communication skills, social responsibility and interdisciplinary curriculum design and implementation.

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Teaching Philosophy

Part I: Teaching Philosophy

Professor Wong’s teaching philosophy is that learning should be holistic and centred on students’ needs and growth. The focus of her work lies beyond students’ attainment of knowledge and seeks to nurture students’ emotional and mental maturity. Her educational endeavours strive to equip students with skills and competencies as professionals in wide-ranging authentic contexts and to be socially responsible members of society.

Professor Wong takes a constructivist and interpretivist approach to teaching and learning and believes that complex skills, such as clinical communication, professionalism and metacognitive skills, can be deconstructed and made amenable for teaching and learning. Teachers act as expert facilitators in the learning process. She views professionalism through a wide lens, encompassing the expected core knowledge and skills, professional values, personal attributes and ethical awareness, and in a manner that is applicable to different industries and professions. This is demonstrated by her work on the undergraduate Family Medicine curriculum at CUHK, which was reconfigured as competency based. She noted the need for students to learn in context-specific situations and to enhance their skills in extrapolating this learning to wider contexts, which requires soft skills and meta-competencies. Having these skills enables students to be socially perceptive active listeners and to manage uncertainty and address complex problems.

Professor Wong intentionally creates a nurturing environment that is conducive to student growth and in which students have space to pause and reflect. In addition, she extends learning opportunities outside the classroom to widen students’ synthesis of societal issues. Her work focuses on the interconnections between teachers, students and patients and between physical health, mental health and the social environment. She also brings individuals and families into the classroom in a variety of settings, such as roleplay simulations, video consultations and in giving feedback to students, as well as through family and baby visits with in-class discussion. Professor Wong believes that bringing in the stakeholders of her profession (e.g. patients and their families) to share their experiences enhances the exposure of students to wider social circumstances and contexts and promotes students’ awareness of diversity and cultural and communication competence.

Professor Wong has also accumulated a wealth of experience in curriculum management from blueprinting, learning activities, assessments and change management. She adopts an empathic approach to learners’ needs and a design thinking approach to the curriculum.

In addition, Professor Wong integrates her teaching philosophy in an iterative way throughout the 6-year medical curriculum, with a series of observations and engagement with patients, their families and community family medicine doctors. The urgency to train medical students to meet the need of Hong Kong medical care has rapidly expanded student numbers, and over 250 students have helped Professor Wong to design innovative forms of blended learning that combine informative online modules, experiential simulations, group and individual debrief sessions and assignments to foster professional habits of deeper learning and reflection.

Design Thinking in Action

As doctors are trained to empathise with patients and understand their illness journeys, Professor Wong transfers these professional skills to learners’ needs and their learning journey. Given the demands of the medical undergraduate programme, creating ‘pauses’ for students to think and reflect is very important. Over the years, Professor Wong has developed an education model that combines face-to-face with e-learning and experiential learning with community attachments and features guided debriefing and reflection (under the EADR model) as part of her learning activities. The need to address other challenges, such as modernising the clinical communication curriculum, has enabled a complete redesign of the course to incorporate video vignettes, simulations, video review, roleplay and group discussions. Through these activities, students learn to empathise when roleplaying as patients, become more open to feedback from patients, peer learners and tutors, and enhance their critical review skills for self-improvement. The generation of ideas, prototyping and testing of these methods has taken many years to come to fruition and Professor Wong continues to adapt and refine these courses to meet the dynamic needs of learners, the medical community and health in society.

Reflective Practice and Real-world Exposure to Community Health Issues

The space for rest and reflection has long been documented to enhance deeper understanding and learning and factual recall and to enhance well-being. Professor Wong encourages reflective writing throughout undergraduate studies so that students can examine their life and learning experience and gain deeper insights through the expressive and personal nature of reflective writing for personal growth and to build up their professional identity.

The opportunities for students to be immersed in real-world environments are an important source of engagement and inspiration and for gaining insights for reflection. Professor Wong increases the benefits of each engagement opportunity by deconstructing the experience into medical, social and interactional elements and by fostering personal and professional reflection. Some examples of these engaged learning experiences include attachment to a new-born baby and the family from birth to 3 years old to observe normal development, early attachment to doctors, patient home visits and visits to individuals.

Meanwhile, the development of a blended learning model for community health issues and vulnerable populations aims to foster social accountability and the understanding of issues facing the community that students will serve as health professionals, as they encounter first-hand the myriad of social, legal and systemic factors and constraints and the value of multidisciplinary and community support. Online modules have explored health inequality, health needs analysis and health issues relating to vulnerable populations (e.g. domestic maids, sex workers, ethnic minorities, people living in poverty) using up-to-date evidence and data to give students a synopsis of the local situation and issues before they go on their community visits and visits to non-government organisations (NGO) that work directly with the community. Professor Wong facilitates peer learning through debriefing, in which students share their experiences, feelings and insights, and reflect on their biases and prejudices. Students thereby learn through their own words, thoughts, feelings and biases. These are valuable opportunities to deconstruct complex experiences that prompt emotional reactions and reflections on personal and professional identity. Professor Wong believes that these opportunities are particularly important at a time when experiences are often had online (e.g. though websites, blogs, social media) and therefore fall short of lived experience in developing metacognition of contextual interactions.

Co-creating Learning Experiences

Learners and stakeholders (e.g. tutors, clients/patients/users, industry representatives) can provide valuable insights and perspectives on teaching and learning outcomes. In the medical field, patients have valuable insights on healthcare as end users and can provide valuable input and feedback to teaching programmes. In addition, medical professionals need to work as part of a wider health care team, and the ability to navigate the landscape between disciplines, primary and secondary care and health and social divides cannot be learnt from textbooks. Professor Wong co-creates learning experiences and resources with these stakeholders and has worked with them to develop video vignettes to help students’ understanding of nuance and managing emotions. In addition, she has also led teaching grants for the development of an interdisciplinary living medical audio glossary in English, Cantonese and Putonghua to help students to transition into practice and keep up to date with evolving medical terms.

Professor Wong’s goal as a teacher is to inspire the next generation of doctors and equip them with the necessary skills to embark on their career. The use of design thinking and an iterative approach to curriculum design has led to the creation of educational activities that are integrated across and along a learner’s journey. Professor Wong’s scholarly approach to design thinking in curriculum design and her consolidation of the teaching philosophies of reflection, real-world exposure and co-creating a curriculum with stakeholders can be extended into other disciplines.

A video by the UGC showcasing Professor Wong’s teaching philosophy can be accessed here.

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Achievement/Good Practices

Part II: Achievements/Good Practices

Engagement and Commitment in Continuous Professional Development

Professor Wong actively pursues professional development and training in the field of medical education. She obtained a Master of Science in Clinical Education (MSc ClinEd) from the University of Edinburgh in 2018. She was accepted as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in 2019 and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Bristol.

Professor Wong engages in management and committee member roles at the senate, faculty, School of Public Health and college level. Currently she is Assistant Dean of Education in the Faculty of Medicine. Professor Wong is actively engaged in college education and student support, chairing the community life committee at Morningside College and mentoring students. Morningside College is a residential college of CUHK founded in 2006 which, as a fellow, Professor Wong has helped to shape.

Professor Wong demonstrates a keen interest in faculty development. Her early efforts include co-founding the Primary Care Innovation, Development and Evidence (PRIDE) course for updating Hong Kong primary care doctors with the latest in peer-reviewed evidence, the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Professor Wong also advises on the family medicine curriculum at the University of Shantou in collaboration with the University of Manitoba and is a CUHK medical education member for the Global Alliance of Medical Excellence (GAME), an international collaboration of nine international medical schools.

Over the past decade, Professor Wong has obtained more than 10 teaching and educational grants for undergraduate, professional and public education in support of her development of educational activities and resources. She has authored 7 research papers and editorials specific to medical education and training and presented her educational findings in key international medical education conferences in Europe and the Asia-Pacific from 2016–2020. She has won 2 awards for her work on communication skills and has been invited as judge and to chair sessions on educational research. Her work on a surrogate patient rating scale for communication skills has been adopted and used in professional exams for Medicine in Year 5 and throughout the curriculum.

Beyond higher education, Professor Wong is an examiner for the Hong Kong College of Family Practitioners (HKCFP) professional exams and deputy editor of the HKCFP journal. Professor Wong is a chief examiner for the Hong Kong Medical Licentiate examination for overseas medical graduates. The Medical Council of Hong Kong, during its 5-year accreditation of the Faculty of Medicine, CUHK in 2018 commended the Faculty’s endeavours in family medicine and communications skills. Over the years, intern ratings and appraisals of the communication skills of medical graduates in CU medicine have been commendable.

Professor Wong is an advocate for and accomplished practitioner of design thinking, and her wish is to utilise the UGC award for training higher education teachers in design thinking and for disseminating educational design ideas. She will also utilise the award to enhance the communication skills of health professionals.

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