Dr Kwan Leung Chia
Alumnus – Flinders University, South Australia
Dr Kwan Leung Chia has a passion for integrating Eastern and Western medicine, he is now fully qualified in both and realising his career dreams. His studies and professional experiences have taken him from Hong Kong to Australia and back again, including becoming the first foreign-trained doctor employed by the Hong Kong Department of Health (under the limited registration scheme) in over a decade.
I believe deeply that bringing Eastern and Western medicine together can improve patient outcomes, and that each system complements the other. After I graduated with a Bachelor of Chinese Medicine from The University of Hong Kong, I decided to pursue my passion for this integrative approach and moved to Adelaide in South Australia to study Western medicine.
Hong Kong is a small place and I hoped that by studying overseas I could learn more about the world and other cultures. I chose Flinders University's Doctor of Medicine degree because the university has an international reputation for excellence and uses innovative teaching methods, including a problem-based learning approach that's been adopted by medical schools around the world.
At the time, one of my good friends from high school in Hong Kong was studying this course at Flinders. He strongly recommended it, often highlighting the program's strength in early clinical exposure.
Indeed, from the end of second year until graduation, I was allocated to a regular rotation of clinical placements in different medical teams. Because of this experience communicating with patients and practicing my clinical skills, I felt ahead of other students during the one-year internship junior doctors complete after graduation.
The opportunity to undertake rural placements was also something I really liked about the degree. These experiences taught me about health challenges in rural communities and inspired me to work in public health.
Campus life at Flinders University was very supportive. There was a free intensive English course to help international students get settled, and the staff and students created an inclusive environment.
I always felt welcomed and at home on campus – so much so that I was elected as a member of the university's governing body. This was a very rewarding experience because I learnt how to lead and manage people, as well as work with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds.
During my time at Flinders University, I was able to publish some research papers using my Chinese medicine background. I also established a charity called Chinese Medicine South Australia to promote integrative medicine and share the benefits with Australians at a grassroots level.
After my post-graduation internship, I returned to Hong Kong to become the first foreign trained doctor employed by the Hong Kong Department of Health (under the limited registration scheme) in over a decade. I then passed the city's difficult licensing examination and obtained a full medical license. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked in public health medicine at the Centre for Health Protection, helping to run the home quarantine program. My colleagues really valued my international experience.
Now I'm back in Australia in a new role as an emergency doctor in regional South Australia. I'm planning to undertake further training to become a specialist general practitioner. This career path will integrate my Chinese and Western medicine backgrounds, building a bridge between Hong Kong and Australia, and incorporate my experience in public health medicine.
I'm hoping to enjoy a long and fulfilling career in integrative medicine and feel very lucky to have the opportunity to fulfill my mission in life.