When it comes to dreams, we may think of something “grand” or “hard to achieve”. However, for Mr. Chen Victor Xin Yuan, a third-year Chung Chi student majoring in medicine (MBChB), dreams can be “small” and “down-to-earth.” Through the “Been There Before Healthcare Mentorship Programme,” he won the “Seeds of Good Deed” Second Prize and the “CCUAA Outstanding Service Scholarships 2022/2023.” What inspired him to come up with this idea? How did he translate his wild dream into a feasible project on a step-by-step basis?
Aspiring to engage in the medical field, Mr. Victor Chen hopes to help those who share the same dream to pursue their goal.
Q: Could you share with us what services are provided by this programme? Who are your target participants?
In 2022, I founded a non-profit educational consulting organisation, “Been There Before”. The mission of this organisation is to assist college students or graduates in applying for undergraduate or postgraduate programmes in the healthcare field. Many students fail to reach the admission scores by just a point or two in public examinations and are unable to realise their healthcare dreams smoothly. Others may have developed an interest in healthcare disciplines while pursuing their first degree and want to switch their major. In either case, we aim to guide students who are unsure about how to apply for healthcare academic programmes with admission channels other than public examinations with our own experiences in higher education, and help them pursue their healthcare dreams at an earlier stage. Our mentors, who have successfully applied for healthcare academic programmes through non-traditional pathways, have inspired us to brainstorm the name of our organisation, “Been There Before,” which implies our desire to “Be Here For You” and provide continuous support. Currently, our organisation offers educational consultancy and advisory services for ten healthcare disciplines, covering medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and physiotherapy, catering to the diverse needs of aspiring students.
Q: What activities have you organised? How to offer these services?
Our core service is a one-year mentorship programme. In May every year, we start recruiting new participants and match them with mentors in relevant fields based on their interests in healthcare subjects. For example, a student aspiring to become a physiotherapist will be paired with a practising physiotherapist or a student studying the relevant subject. After the matching process, we hold an opening mixer in late August. During this event, mentors and students get to know each other over tea and officially begin their one-year mentorship relationship. We do not set a limit on the number of meetings between mentors and students. As long as both of them are available, we encourage them to stay in touch, allowing mentors to answer any questions or concerns the students may have regarding their application for healthcare academic programmes. Additionally, this provides an opportunity for them to build a valuable friendship that goes beyond the mentorship.
Apart from the Mentorship Programme, we understand that both local and overseas medical academic programmes have higher requirements for clinical and research experiences for mature applicants compared to secondary school students. Therefore, we strive to provide support for clinical attachments and research internships, equipping students with the necessary skills and experiences to pursue their dreams.
Q: Is the idea of these services related to your academic background or experiences?
This concept is indeed related to my academic background and experiences. It was inspired by the guidance and support I received from my mentors in shaping my life plans. Their selfless sharing provided me with a clearer understanding of career paths and personal development. I also recognised that applying for the medicine programme, commonly referred to as the “best-ranked subject” in Hong Kong, is not limited to the traditional route of public examinations. I want to share this knowledge and experience with others who have the same aspirations.
Prior to studying medicine, I completed the Bachelor's degree programme in Public Health at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. During that time, I explored various healthcare fields involving prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. Through this exploration, I discovered my areas of interest. After graduation, I continued my studies in medicine, while my co-founder pursued veterinary medicine. In Hong Kong, unlike the United States or Canada, there is no pre-medical programme offered by the universities in Hong Kong. However, public health serves as a good preparatory course for other healthcare academic programmes, allowing individuals to explore their interests and clarify their directions. We aim to make more people aware of alternative ways for pursuing medical and healthcare subjects other than public examinations, enabling them to make informed choices based on a clearer understanding.
Q: You also received “Mr. & Mrs. Eddy Chan Overseas Entrepreneur Award 2022/2023.” Could you share with us your idea about this entrepreneurial idea?
I am grateful to have received “Mr. & Mrs. Eddy Chan Overseas Entrepreneur Award 2022/2023.” This award is significant for me because I have had an entrepreneurial idea in the health product industry for several years, but I struggled to bring it to fruition. There are lots of considerations involved in starting a business, in addition to the demanding nature of my medical studies, which made it challenging to realise my entrepreneurial aspirations. Now, with the support of the award, I have been highly motivated to pursue this venture. I will make good use of the funding provided and transform my knowledge of public health and medicine into useful health products, in the hope of improving the well-being of sub-health status of urban dwellers.
In late August 2022, “Been There Before” held an opening mixer for the mentorship programme, allowing mentors and students to get to know each other and share their experiences in pursuing healthcare programmes.
Q: You are currently majoring in medicine and have a qualification in public health. What goals do you want to pursue after graduation?
After graduation, I aspire to become a medical practitioner and public health specialist, combining both professions to make a positive impact. The knowledge of clinical medicine and public health is complementary. Public health education has not only trained me to focus on individual treatment but also enabled me to think about health issues from a broader perspective. On the other hand, clinical medicine provides comprehensive coverage of human physiology and pathology, equipping me with a solid foundation of health knowledge. With the training in these two healthcare fields, I am well-prepared to pursue my goals.
Q: How would you use the scholarships?
Both scholarships are precious to me. I will utilise them meaningfully. For “Mr. & Mrs. Eddy Chan Overseas Entrepreneur Award,” I will allocate the funds to my initial research and development of health products. This may include customising samples for testing and refining the product concept.
On the other hand, the “CCUAA Outstanding Service Scholarship” will be used to support the service maintenance of the “Been There Before” programme. This could cover website expenses and development of other services to benefit more students.