SUVARNABHUMI, Dr Krishna
Thailand - family doctor
An interview with the WONCA Editor
Tell me little about your background.
I was born in 1975 in a small town in Southern Thailand located on the border between Thailand and Malaysia. While growing up, I remember my relatives used to tell me that my head was bigger than that of other children. At that time, however, I was very glad about this because I believed ‘bigger head’ meant I was going to be smarter when I grew up! After I graduated from high school, I went to medical school at Prince of Songkla University. I am very happy with the training I received there as I firmly believe our teachers trained us well not only to become good doctors, but also help people in need with compassion.
What work are you doing currently?
I am a family doctor and also a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University; I teach both medical students and postgraduate trainees. At our faculty, we have set up two teaching clinics in the communities. From my 2011 research study, I found out that our medical students benefitted from these clinics as they were able to learn more about disease patterns, management of chronic-disease patients and the use of family folders. Moreover, common problems in communities are relevant to the national statistics.
Other interesting things you have done previously?
One of my areas of interest is medical education. I have pursued further studies in Academic Family Medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada (2006) and received a Master Degree in Medical Education from Cardiff University, United Kingdom (2012). I use the knowledge I gained from my studies and experiences in Western countries to improve medical teaching and learning in my own setting. I work with my colleagues to improve our family practice to make it be a fruitful learning environment for our medical students and trainees as well as being good role models to them.
Moreover, we provide an elective programme in family practice for both Thai and international students; some of medical students apply for postgraduate training in Family Medicine after graduating from medical school.
As a medical educator, I also have a special interest in faculty development. To this end, I have sat up a Thai Medical Education Interest Group on Facebook; it is a social network among Thai medical educators. Moreover, for the past year, I have been cooperating with the Medical Education Unit of my medical school to develop the “PSU Medical Education Resources” website. It is my intention and hope to help Thai medical educators improve their teaching skills.
Your interests in work and outside work?
Previously, I have worked with the Royal College of Family Physicians of Thailand on curriculum revision for the Diploma Thai Board of Family Medicine. The revision committee worked very hard to make our curriculum meet international standards; it was decided to use more valid and reliable assessment methods for the summative evaluation.
In my free time, I enjoy travelling. In the past five years, I have travelled to several countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and France. My travel experiences have gave me an international perspective, not only regarding my profession, but also life in general. I have been exposed to a lot of new and interesting things and ideas that I can apply to my life and work in Thailand.
What it is like to be a family doctor in your country?
The status of the family doctors in Thailand is not well-established as compared to that of general practitioners in the United Kingdom or the family doctors in Canada. This may be because, in the Thai health care system, people register to primary care without identifying their family doctor.
Moreover, the role and salary of family doctor in Thailand are not much different from those of newly graduated doctors from medical school. Nevertheless, this lack of recognition does not bother me. I enjoy my family practice and maintaining a long-term relationship with my patients. The improvement of my patients’ health and the appreciation of my instruction and/or mentoring by my medical students/trainees are sufficient rewards for me.