Profile # 2: Dr. Michael Jong

At the Rural and Remote Conference held in Saskatoon last week, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Michael Jong, MB (the 2006- 2007 President of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.) Dr. Jong is a family physician in Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Newfoundland and graduated from medical school in 1975. To learn more about the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada go to
Deirdre: Tell me about a teacher that inspired you.
A long time ago in Malaya where I started my medical training, the Dean told us, “It is a privilege to go to medical school, when you become a doctor you owe society for that privilege. You are the ones who will be helping society and patients.” I was young and impressionable and that message stayed with me all these years.
Deirdre: What changes have you seen in medical education since you were trained as a physician?
In the past, learners were given things to learn by their teachers. Teaching was very top down, more pedantic (I teach, you remember.) Now there is a more level playing field; students acquire knowledge from peers, books, online sites as well as from teachers. As a result, there is more of an expectation of critical thinking from the learner.
Deirdre: What changes would you like to see in medical education?
I would like to see:
 more training done where the greatest medical needs are, whether that’s in a rural setting or in the inner city
more planning in medical schools to recruit rural students
a more patient-centred focus where we can demonstrate the value systems of patients, be more socially accountable and community focused
preceptors develop a team approach where students learn to work within a community, with a family
students learn to be effective change agents with the problem solving skills to sort out a community health problem.
Thank you to Dr. Jong and the planning committee for choosing Saskatoon to host their dynamic and exciting conference. I learned so much from my participation.

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