Elective Posting at Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital By Low Zhen Ning, Tan Hong Ling and Tung Him Soon (Doctor of Medicine)
Established in 1957, Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital (KMUH) is a multispecialty hospital in Kaohsiung, the Southern Taiwan. It is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, first class services and it supports 1,712 beds.
We were accepted into the neurology and cardiology department, and had the opportunity to meet the sixth year medical students from Kaohsiung Medical University. From our sharing sessions, we learned that the healthcare system in Taiwan is different from that in Malaysia.
With Taiwan having implemented the National Health Insurance (NHI), a single-payer insurance plan compulsory for all citizens, medical care as a result is relatively cheap. Citizens all have equal access to healthcare.
Sharing the same restrictions with the local medical students, we were not allowed to perform physical examinations on patients for fear of medico-legal issues. To train, we performed examinations on each other.
Nevertheless, being in an environment with different endemic diseases, we got to learn many different techniques in neurological examinations and approaches to various diseases. We also observed lumbar puncture, a very rare procedure at our training hospital Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah (HSNZ), due to cultural beliefs. We practiced this procedure on mannequins under the guidance of the registrars.
At the cardiac catheterization laboratory, we were able to observe procedures such as percutaneous coronary intervention, electrophysiological studies (EPS), cardiac ablation as well as pacemaker implantation. Apart from the usual day-to-day duties, the specialists also engaged themselves in research pertaining to the improvements of electrophysiological studies and cardiac ablation. We were glad to be able to observe the procedure and to have them explaining the basic principles of EPS to us.
Besides the academic training, we had a wonderful time spent with the local students. They introduced us to various tourist spots, local delicacies, and brought us around town. We also had the opportunity to meet and share our experiences with medical students from other countries such as Austria, Hong Kong and Australia who were doing their electives there as well.
All in all, the students and staffs, be it the nurses, interns, residents or specialists, were very welcoming and always willing to provide detailed explanations to every question that we had despite their tight schedules. All of them, irrespective of their titles, were courteous and respectful to each other and it was definitely heartwarming to be able to study and work in such environment.
Low Zhen Ning, Tan Hong Ling and Tung Him Soon are alumni of SMK Sri Sentosa Kuala Lumpur, SMK Damansara Utama, and SMKJ Chung Ling Pulau Pinang.