Background: Despite Hong Kong government's official commitment to the development of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) over the last ten years, there appears to have been limited progress in public sector initiated career development and postgraduate training (PGT) for public university trained TCM practitioners. Instead, the private TCM sector is expected to play a major role in nurturing the next generation of TCM practitioners. In the present study we evaluated TCM graduates' perspectives on their career prospects and their views regarding PGT.
Method: Three focus group discussions with 19 local TCM graduates who had worked full time in a clinical setting for fewer than 5 years.
Results: Graduates were generally uncertain about how to develop their career pathways in Hong Kong with few postgraduate development opportunities; because of this some were planning to leave the profession altogether. Despite their expressed needs, they were dissatisfied with the current quality of local PGT and suggested various ways for improvement including supervised practice-based learning, competency-based training, and accreditation of training with trainee involvement in design and evaluation. In addition they identified educational needs beyond TCM, in particular a better understanding of western medicine and team working so that primary care provision might be more integrated in the future.
Conclusion: TCM graduates in Hong Kong feel let down by the lack of public PGT opportunities which is hindering career development. To develop a new generation of TCM practitioners with the capacity to provide quality and comprehensive care, a stronger role for the government, including sufficient public funding, in promoting TCM graduates' careers and training development is suggested. Recent British and Australian experiences in prevocational western medicine training reform may serve as a source of references when relevant program for TCM graduates is planned in the future