A Passion for Top Notch Education
May 21, 2014 | Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine in Bangkok is renowned as the premier school in Thailand for aspiring doctors and health practitioners. With 21 departments in areas such as Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Laboratory Medicine, it was founded in 1946 to produce leaders with a vision to serve the nation and its people.
Text: Joanne Chan
Photos: Ongard Peanpeumpat
Many Thais today understand the need for service. The challenge for the Faculty of Medicine now is to ensure that students experience the best possible training so that they can be of service after they graduate. Associate Professor Pattanamon Ujjin, the head of the Department of Laboratory Medicine knows this well and actively works to fulfill the needs of students with her passionate teaching and the use of technology.
Educated at Thailand’s Mahidol University and Chulalongkorn University, Professor Ujjin has also undergone extensive training in Australia, Singapore, and Japan. Her research work has been published in journals such as the Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology, Pharmacogenetics, and Environmental Health Perspectives. She has been working with Chulalongkorn’s Department of Laboratory Medicine since 1978.
In this interview, she discusses how Chula, as the university is known colloquially, ensures that it remains true to what it was conceived to be: the premier Thai university for medicine.
How does the university ensure that the quality of its teaching keeps up with the demands of patients?
We simply do not rest on our laurels. We are never satisfied with what we are doing—we find ways to improve the quality of teaching and make sure that after the students graduate, they will become the kind of medical practitioners of which Chula will be proud. Last year we revised our curriculum to keep it up to date with the changes in technology and to better serve the needs of patients. This was also done to ensure that Thais who wish to learn medicine can do so without leaving the country. Our students are already equipped with the knowledge to study what they wish to specialize in—surgery, anatomy — but the revised curriculum will further improve their training and prepare them for future studies.
"Technology has made it easier for our students to learn better. The technology has also enabled them to become just the kind of excellent healthcare practitioners that the University wants them to become."
Prof. Pattanamon Ujjin, Head of the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok,Thailand
How has lab technology helped the school improve its pedagogy?
It is important for me to teach my students the benchmarks in the field. We aspire to give our students the best medical education possible. Technology makes it easier for us to teach and for students to understand hematology. In research, it has been very helpful in making sure that completed tests are accurate. It has been a reliable partner in the laboratory and especially useful in checking specimens. Thanks to the equipment, we have seen an increase in productivity. We have had an increase of 10-15 percent in the number of specimens handled, and the laboratory completes the work with a high level of accuracy and reliability.
How do you convey your passion for medicine to your students?
I’ve always wanted to teach. At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, which is why I chose to become a clinical pathologist. I also love working with young people and shaping their minds. I try to share this passion by teaching not just the science of medicine, but also the art of it. It’s not just about learning how the body works; it’s about bringing the best care possible to ensure patient safety. I hope this is something that my students will practice after graduation and that they will see their profession as what I think of it to be: a lifelong passion.