Campusino - Concern on Medical School - 15/11/2004

Mater Dei: a teaching hospital
Ibn Campusino

THE NEWS that Mater Dei Hospital will be finished by July 2007 together with the Medical School and the Institute of Health Care buildings is doubly sweet music to the ears of the clinical academics.

The state of St Luke's Hospital is presenting problems for teaching purposes, especially with the growing number of students and the greater emphasis on bedside teaching for all health professionals.

During a ward round, one sometimes may have to fit ten students, including medical, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy and other health profession students. This is an ideal form of teaching as it enhances teamwork since the student days, which is the basis for successful modern medical practice. But how can one achieve this when a four-bed ward ends up with six or seven beds? Ironically the bed numbers have been permanently supplemented by the letter "K" standing for Korsija.

The need of having a modern medical school close to the new hospital cannot be overemphasised. Today, teaching of medical aspects is augmented by several teaching aids but nothing can substitute individual case studies at the bedside.

Our Faculty of Medicine and Surgery as well as the Institute of Health Care are blessed with some of the best teaching staff possible. They are outstanding clinicians and practitioners in addition to being excellent academics. However, this does not mean that one should rest on one's laurels. Improvement in medicine occurs daily and our health professionals have to keep abreast with these developments.

It is now of the utmost importance to make the best out of the wisdom exemplified by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health in obtaining a "bonus" out of the deal agreed upon last week, namely that in getting state-of-the-art medical teaching facilities ready three years earlier than the targeted date.

The best benefits of this decision can only be achieved if all those involved are properly consulted on the developments and plans for the new medical teaching facilities. The emphasis is on "consulted" and not simply "informed" or just taken on a tour round the new buildings.

It is hoped that FMS can now carry out its functions much more efficiently in that it is no longer burdened with matching these finances with the work carried out on a day-to-day basis. FMS should dedicate itself to satisfy the needs of a teaching hospital keeping in mind the special requirements of the hospital due to the fact that the hospital must also excel in the teaching aspects. An "excellent" teaching hospital very often automatically excels also in all the services it provides.

One must keep in mind that although the most important feature in medical teaching is the "practice" aspect, research remains an integral part of any university faculty. One must ensure that in giving careful attention at providing the best hotel aspects at Mater Dei, one will reserve a sufficient share of the financial commitment for research.

It is becoming a sad habit that when finance is tight, the research aspects are curtailed. There should be a limit to curtailing the research aspects as otherwise we will risk that our University will become a technical institute and this is not good for academia, and in the long run it is not of benefit to the patients themselves.

It has been shown that excellence in care exists where a teaching hospital is successful in all the essential three pillars of practice, teaching and research. We are sure we will have the first two on a firm basis. It will be a pity if the "building" develops cracks because of weakness in the third pillar.

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