As the first interschool medical students society in Hong Kong, our founding committee includes both HKU and CUHK medical students. To learn how we strengthened our identity as a neutral interschool society that is internationally engaged, our current Vice President (Regional Chairperson) Yan Yin Yip and Vice President (Internal) Doris Tai interviewed one of our founding members Prof. Samuel Ling, who is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics & Traumatology at CUHK.
Doris: How did AMSA Hong Kong start? Where did the idea of establishing an inter-school student society come from?
Professor Ling: AMSA Hong Kong started as a small society with only 5 members as the founding committee in 2001. We attended our first AMSC in Japan and followed-up our visit with the establishment of AMSAHK in 2001.
We started the work of establishing AMSA Hong Kong as a student society combing both CUHK and HKU students. Since we would like to strengthen the continuity and sustainability of AMSAHK, we adopted a mentor-mentee like structure with year 2 and 3 medical students as core council members to supervise the year 1 students in the council, grooming them to stay in their 2nd and 3rd year as core council members. We had our first inauguration at HK Sanatorium and Hospital, inviting both HKU and CUHK faculty, showcasing our neutrality. As the first interschool medical student society, we have always promoted neutrality to deliver the message that we represent Hong Kong on international platforms regardless of which university we come from. It would be an overstatement to say we are uniting medical students from the two schools, but the establishment of AMSAHK undoubtedly created channels for us to communicate and build friendships. Until now, AMSAHK is still jointly managed by medical students of CUHK and HKU, with neither university having a representation constituting more than 60% or less than 40% of the Executive Committee.
Doris: What were some challenges that you faced, as the founding president of AMSAHK?
Professor Ling: The establishment of a “new” non-profit organisation was entirely new for us, thus, we spent many hours drafting the constitution, setting up bank accounts and getting the official documentation from government agencies.
Besides, to support the scale of our work and encourage medical students to attend AMSC and EAMSC conferences, attempts were made to look for donations from doctors and NGOs. I still have vivid memories of cold-calling clinics across Hong Kong, from Central to Tai Po, to fundraise for AMSAHK. We connected with our Patron, Dr David Ho, in 2003 and was in constant communication and liaison with both HKU and CUHK faculties, through which we were grateful For their support and guidance.
To be able to come up with all the aforementioned work, a fun or not-so-fun fact would be using ICQ to do meetings and catch-ups. That brings memories!
AMSAHK and AMSA-International
Yan Yin: How did Hong Kong contribute to AMSA-International?
Professor Ling: Many of our AMSAHK members also served in the AMSA-International council. We bid to host an AMSA-International conference in 2003 - 2004. The bidding was done at night-times meetings during the annual AMSC conferences, where we prepared a proposal including videos, and information brochures marketing Hong Kong to our Asian peers. In 2006, we hosted the conference and it was a blast.
The earlier tenures of AMSAHK took part in plentiful events of AMSA-International, from hosting conferences to being one of the founding members of AMSA-International. Aside from co-founding AMSA-International, AMSAHK proposed the idea of academic competitions to AMSA-I conferences. Among chapters from Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Japan etc. in AMSA-International, AMSAHK was always proactive in voicing new ideas for conferences with an edge in English back then.
Yan Yin: How do you think your experience in AMSAHK has changed you or affected your career development?
Professor Ling: My experience in AMSAHK mainly revolved around leadership and regional coordinator (the equivalent of Vice President (Regional Chairperson) in the current structure of AMSAHK) for 3 to 4 years. It helped me gain an international perspective and helped foster international collaborations. In addition, after 20 years, I still have contact with my AMSA-International friends from Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea etc.
The Road forward for AMSAHK
Doris: What was your vision for AMSAHK? Seeing what we do right now, what are your visions for the future development of AMSAHK?
Professor Ling: Advocating health with the identity of an interschool medical student society is of paramount importance. Local involvement should be one of the main priorities for AMSAHK. To improve the quality and reach of health advocacy locally, project departments can align their projects with international health themes and WHO campaigns.
AMSAHK should represent medical students in Hong Kong, foster unity and fraternity across universities, and contribute to their identity as Hong Kong medical students on the international stage.
Doris and Yan Yin: Thank you very much for sharing with us today, Professor Ling.
Professor Ling: Thank you for having me.