60 Years’ Practice: an inside look at CMU’s Faculty of Medicine
The Faculty of Medicine at Chiang Mai University is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. Established in 1959, Thailand’s first provincial medical school became part of Chiang Mai University in 1965. This huge and busy organisation provides medical services to the local population in northern Thailand as well as the expatriate community.
The Faculty of Medicine employs more than 5,000 staff, including over 300 lecturers in 22 academic departments. It is one of the top three research medical schools in Thailand and has trained almost seven thousand MDs, 170 PhD graduates and 360 MSc graduates. It has a capacity of 1,400 beds in over one hundred wards, plus a busy outpatient department that treats thousands of patients each day. In addition there are 16 Intensive Care Units and several state-of-the-art operating theatres.
It started in 1959 when a small teaching hospital was set up, and began training the first batch of 65 students. Today the annual intake is about 250. In a teaching hospital trainee doctors learn by working with real patients while also following a curriculum of intensive and challenging academic studies.
The Faculty of Medicine has established a variety of longstanding co-operative ventures with many overseas and local medical schools to facilitate student and staff exchanges and joint research projects. The younger doctors at the faculty’s hospitals are encouraged to take a period of study or job placement at an overseas university teaching hospital early in their medical careers.
Miss Neu is an example of a young Faculty of Medicine staff member who has undertaken additional training abroad. She first spent several months in Sweden and has recently enjoyed an 11 month posting to King’s College, London.
As well as undergoing additional training in her field of Radiopharmaceuticals & PET Radiochemistry, she visited the Lake District and Oxford University. She says that she brings back to Chiang Mai more fully-developed skills and knowledge in her specialised field that will benefit her patients. Neu says that her periods of attachment at overseas medical colleges have contributed to her personal and professional development and expressed warm appreciation for the encouragement and support of the Faculty of Medicine.
Dr Mati is a skin specialist who trained at the Faculty of Medicine. He spent a year at a medical university in Berlin, studying allergies, urticaria and mast cells. He told me that the main value of such overseas learning is to broaden a doctor’s vision and to gain wider experience in medical practice and research skills. He describes his professional development in Germany as being an experience that was both intensive and valuable.
It was appropriate for the Faculty of Medicine to make “Growing Internationalism in medical training” a key theme for their main 60th anniversary conference, held in October 2019.
The present Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Bannakij Lojanapiwat, said that this anniversary forum was arranged as an opportunity to share experiences and insights in the provision of medical training by learning from each other.
The current President of Chiang Mai University, Professor Niwas Nantachit, is a medical doctor himself — who trained at the CMU’s Faculty of Medicine. He is also a former Dean of the faculty. In his anniversary address he observed that a 60th anniversary is a suitable opportunity to look back and to review achievements, but it is also a good moment to look to future developments.
New foreign patients can use their passport to register at the Faculty of Medicine by visiting the Sriphat Medical Centre’s reception desk on the ground floor of the main building (Tel. 053-936-510) during office hours, from 7am to 8pm daily. You will be given a hospital card bearing the all-important hospital number. This number is used to gain access to your health records, no matter which department of the hospital you might visit in the future.
You are encouraged, when you register, to bring along your important medical records from elsewhere, which the staff will scan to be added to your medical records at the Faculty of Medicine.
The majority of patients attend as out-patients, served by numerous specialised units within the main hospital complex. These include an eye centre, a neurological clinic, cancer centre, and dozens more. They treat hundreds of thousands of out-patients every year.
If your appointment is at 10am, for example, you would be well advised to turn up an hour earlier. The nurse will give you a queue number. Ask the nurse at what time you can expect your queue number to be called. If you have to wait a while you can then go for a coffee and return in time for the doctor to see you.
Radley C., a recently retired American patient attending the out-patient department for a complete check-up, and newly resident in Chiang Mai, has this to say about the place:
‘’I was greatly impressed by the quality and thoroughness of the care I experienced at the hospital; some of the best care in my life. I also appreciated the high level of patient concern of the staff here. I would describe my whole experience as being exceptional.
The costs of tests and treatments here are very much lower than they would be in the USA.’’
Doctors without Budgets
Most medical undergraduates come from Northern Thailand. Some come from not so wealthy families, and would struggle to pay their way through medical school. The Faculty of Medicine has a special charity fund to ease the financial burden on poorer trainee doctors.
If you would like to contribute to this very worthwhile cause you are welcome to make your donation direct to this numbered account at the Siam Commercial Bank: 566-236940-0. The contact person at the Faculty of Medicine for any queries about this scholarship fund is Ms. Nittata. Tel. 053-945-271.
SPECIALIST MEDICAL CENTRE
The Faculty of Medicine at CMU acts as a specialist centre for many types of medical treatment (such as liver disease) for the whole of northern Thailand. Patients are often referred here from the smaller provincial hospitals.
As you might expect in a busy hospital, there is always need of blood. If you would like to donate blood please contact the blood bank on Tel: 053-935-624 to make the necessary arrangement.
Blood donations can be made at the blood bank, located on the ground floor of the Sriphat Building, near the hospital’s internal branch of the Siam Commercial Bank. Open from 9am to 8:30pm daily, except from 12 to 1pm. If you are between 18 and 55 they will be very pleased to have your donation. The procedure takes about half an hour.
The Sriphat Medical Centre, located on Suthep Road, not far from Nimmanhaemin Road, offers a wide range of health check-up packages.
These range from a pre-marital check-up for the groom at 3,000 baht to their very-detailed Diamond programme for ladies at 20,500 baht. The call centre number is Tel: 053-936-9001.
Finding a GP
Perhaps rather unusually for a hospital, the Faculty of Medicine also offers consultations with general practitioners in several places. These include Clinic 108 located in a new building near Suthep Road (Tel: 053-935-176) opposite a 7/11. Open from 8am to 8pm weekdays, and 8:30am to 4pm weekends. This is the place to visit if you need a medical report to apply for a Thai work permit.
There are a number of other off-campus facilities which form part of the Faculty of Medicine. Students at CMU can access healthcare at the Clinic on the main CMU campus.
Others include the Centre for Traditional Thai & Complementary Medicine (Tel: 053-949-890), located at 55, Samlarn Road near Wat Phra Singh, which offers massage, reflexology, cupping, acupuncture, and traditional Thai and Chinese herbal medicines. The first time you go there, they will arrange a consultation with a doctor, to take your medical history and learn your current needs.
The Centre for Medical Excellence, located on the opposite side of Suthep Road from the main hospital (Tel: 053-934-710) offers various specialised centres, such as a skin clinic, heart centre, well-baby clinic, gastro/intestinal clinic, and more. Open from 7am to 8pm daily.
The Geriatric Care Centre is located at 444, Moo 6 of Chai Mai Hod Road. Open from 6am to 8pm daily. Tel: 053-920-666.