A call to pass Chinese medicine knowledge on to future generations

29 Aug 2022

Four years into his undergraduate studies at HKBU, Dr Tony Chua arrived at a crossroads. Like most of his peers from the Bachelor of Chinese Medicine and Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science programme, he was planning to become a Chinese medicine practitioner, but he found himself drawn to another profession.

“At university, I was inspired by the teachers who gave up senior positions in the Mainland to teach Chinese medicine in Hong Kong and help foster the development of Chinese medicine here,” says Dr Chua, who is a Lecturer in the Teaching and Research Division of the School of Chinese Medicine (SCM). “I found that there was a shortage of young, locally trained teachers, and I wanted to fill the gap and pass on the inheritance of Chinese medicine knowledge.”

His teaching ambitions have driven him to pursue further postgraduate studies, and he has embarked on a fulfilling academic and teaching journey ever since. As a holder of several professional qualifications covering the areas of law, stroke and clinical neuroscience as well as business, Dr Chua says that continuing education has not only broadened his perspective, but it has also enabled him to extend his knowledge beyond textbooks to help students.

Inheritance and innovation

Dr Chua, who recently won the President’s Award for Outstanding Performance in Early Career Teaching at HKBU, began his teaching journey as a technical instructor at SCM in 2015, and he became a lecturer in 2018. Before pursuing his dream of teaching, he set up a Chinese medicine clinic with his associates and he practised for three years. Now as an educator, he often draws upon his clinical experience to help students understand how to connect the medical concepts they have learnt in the classroom with real-life situations.

To ensure his classes are up-to-date and relevant, he regularly reviews the course materials and adjusts his teaching approach to meet the students’ needs. “I try to understand what the students hope to learn from each course, and I will make our teaching and learning goals clear to them,” says the young lecturer.

With the aim of delivering an all-round learning experience, Dr Chua goes beyond textbooks and introduces additional knowledge to his students. One example of this is an elective course “Introduction of acute management in Chinese Medicine and Auxiliary Medicine” which he developed. “A lot of students are interested to learn about providing pre-admission medical services in times of emergency. This elective course offers a great opportunity for students to broaden their horizons,” Dr Chua says. He made use of his skills and experience from serving in the Auxiliary Medical Service for 15 years to develop the course, which includes first aid knowledge and practical applications of Chinese medicine in emergency situations. The course, which is part of SCM’s undergraduate curriculum, has been well-received by the students.

On a mission to pass on knowledge

An avid learner, Dr Chua has completed a bachelor’s degree in Law (LLB) and master’s degrees in Stroke and Clinical Neuroscience, Education, and Business Administration. He is also a registered Chinese chiropractor, hypnotherapist and General Accredited Mediator.

Restless in his pursuit of knowledge, he is now studying for a master’s degree in Public Health. “While my students are working on their assignments, I’m also preparing for my essay!” he says jokingly. By studying across different fields of knowledge, he is able to give students a broad overview of the subjects and instil in them the importance of expanding their scope of knowledge. “Besides acquiring information about Chinese medicine, students also need to learn to appreciate other issues so they can better communicate with the patients and provide them with holistic and effective treatments,” Dr Chua says.

Amidst his busy schedule, he still finds the time to develop his long-time passion for the martial arts. Since he was a secondary school student, he has been practising Hung Kuen, a Chinese martial art, and then bone-setting from the Chinese martial art master Mr Li Chan-wo, who is the direct disciple of Madame Mok Kwai-lan, wife of Master Wong Fei-hung.

Dr Chua says his aspirations in education are deeply inspired by Mr Li, who has reminded him to strive to do his best in teaching and nurturing the future generations. “I won’t withhold any information from my students, I always teach them all I know,” he says. “I hope that my students will surpass me one day, become better and more competent in their specialised fields. Although I’m still young, I always want to nurture the next generation of talent who will carry our knowledge forward and pass it on.”