A new dean, a new direction

Dean Han-Pin Kuo, College of Medicine

Accepting TMU’s invitation to serve as Dean made sense after a career spanning three decades at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. After receiving his medical degree at Taipei Medical College, (renamed Taipei Medical University in 2000), Dean Kuo spent a formative two years studying clinical pharmacology at Imperial College in London. Now Dean Kuo has a plan to increase the depth of research at TMU and improve practice at the hospital with new technology, skills, and ideas.

The goal for the next five years is to put a hundred talented and motivated students on an accelerated track to becoming “practitioners-slash-researchers” by helping students develop scientific and logical thinking, improve their communication skills, and develop a globalized perspective. During a gap year, students on this track can pursue education or research interests that fall outside typical medical education, like law, technology, or computer science. Students following the accelerated track will enter clinical training at the same time as other students.

Dean Kuo’s idea for the new educational track began to form about five years ago. Med students traditionally have few chances to get involved in basic scientific research, so combining research and clinical practice can be difficult. Giving students an early opportunity to broaden their academic perspectives is important: “[Med school students] are mostly very good students, and they learn the knowledge well, but their perspective could be limited.” Then by the time doctors reach their thirties, the motivation to look beyond a traditional career in medicine can wane. So giving students a chance to broaden their perspectives at an early stage is important. “[Younger people] would have more ambition to explore the outside world. So I think the training should start from when they are younger.”

These students will also have the opportunity – and financial support – for lab research and study abroad. “They will have a good time abroad… And when they come back, they can help make TMU even better, ” said Dean Kuo. This support is backed by a close working relationship between Dean Kuo and TMU President Chien-Huan Lin, a relationship that might not be surprising considering that President Lin used to be Dean Kuo’s PhD student.

The new program will give students the chance to move outside of traditional medical practice. The experience of pursuing educational and research interests in addition to medical training will equip students for expanded career opportunities, for example in business or biomedical technology. With these opportunities growing, fast-track med studies at TMU will give students the capabilities and multidisciplinary skills needed to face the challenges of the future world.

“And if they find they’re not interested in research, that’s fine. They can continue on to be a physician.”

For interviews or a copy of the paper, contact Office of Global Engagement via global.initiatives@tmu.edu.tw.