INTERVIEW WITH THE VICE DEAN (SMS)
Good morning Prof. FAY (Francis Agyemang-Yeboah),
We’re so grateful to have you this morning, Prof.
Good morning, Simon and Albert I’m also pleased to interact with you!
Prof, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I started off on a humble note and have gone through the usual challenges of life. I was born in Kumasi and I am the second child of the family. I started my early school days here in Kumasi and went through to the University. I did my first degree in Biochemistry with a second upper and I came to the medical school here as a demonstrator/ Teaching assistant. I had a scholarship from the UK to go to University of Nottingham Medical School, to pursue my post-graduate studies there. Then went on to the University of London, School of Pharmacy, in the Faculty of Medicine to do my PhD and from there I did my post-doctoral fellowship at Kings College, School of Medicine in Dentistry in 1995. After settling down for a while, I joined the medical school in KNUST in 1997. I am married with two children. That has been a bit of my background in the world and I have been working very hard.
Prof, since when have you been appointed as the Vice Dean of SMS?
It started this year (2015), effectively August 1st. So I have been in the job just about some few months now.
How are you feeling about the job and how is it going?
Yeah, it is quite demanding. You see, you have to be on your toes and you have to be there for the School. You have to always respond to the needs of students and administratively, if the Dean is not there you have to step in, so it is quite demanding. I just realized that we need to really appreciate people in such positions. It’s quite tough especially doubling it up as a Head of Dept. too.
Prof, what did you give up to get where you are today, what did you have to sacrifice?
I have given up a lot of things. I realized that in life if you want to be at the cutting edge, there are certain distractions that you need to avoid. Basically, I have tried to overlook a lot of social events that would take all my time. So I have tried as much as possible not to get involved so much in social events like excess funerals, weddings, fun etc. I sacrifice a lot of my time to really focus on the essential things of my life i.e. medical research and training. Yes, I focus on the important things that drive me forward on my quest to be a competent professional. It hasn’t been easy.
Have you also held some appointments/positions in the University and the School of Medical Sciences?
Well, quite a lot. Between 2006 to 2010, I was the Head of Department for Molecular Medicine. And from 2000 to 2006 I was the Hall Master for the Clinical Students’ Hostel (CSH) at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH). I have also served on a lot of committees at the University; I have served the University in my capacity as a Cognate member of the Graduate School Board, College of Science Board, on the SMS School board, Chairman for some internal committees, a member of the University HIV Research and advocacy Committee. I have been also been the Patron for the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) and a few others as well.
Prof, what are some of your institutions attended vis-à-vis your academic qualifications?
Right, I went to Nottingham Medical School, University of Nottingham where I obtained a M.Sc Postgraduate Degree in Chemical Pathology/Clinical Biochemistry, I went on to do my Doctorate in the School of Pharmacy, University of London, Faculty of Medicine. I have also done ICT training in South Notts College in UK, I have also pursued professional law studies in the Ghana Law School, Indeed I am a full Lawyer i.e. Solicitor and Barrister at Law with an interest in Medical Law and Ethics, I was called to the BAR in 2012, but my keenest memories have been in University of London Nottingham Medical School and also at the Law School.
What are some of your academic affiliations and memberships?
I am a member of the UK Chemical Pathology Association(Association of Clinical Biochemists, UK), since 1989, I am also a member of the institute of Biomedical Scientist UK, I am a member of the International AIDS Society, Geneva. I am a fellow of the William Good Enough Commonwealth Professionals of the United Kingdom, I am also a member Ghana AIDS Commission Research Pane. I’m also member of the Ghana Bar Association.
What are you passionate about?
My passion has always been, you know, cutting edge research in the medical field where we address societal needs to improve quality health care. I have done a lot of work in HIV and cancer research I have realized that we need to come to a place where we can pursue excellence in medical research to address the health needs of our people and also to position ourselves as medical scientists to do evidence-based research. You look at the society and you realize that our health needs are numerous but we are not addressing them through cutting edge research and my passion is to really do that and to encourage others to come on board so together we can contribute back to society.
Prof, what’s your vision for the Medical School (SMS)?
Yes, my vision is to see the medical school as an excellent first class institution training up top level doctors who are so much in-depth in the things of medical research and to prepare them to address the medical and health needs of Ghanaians.
Current interest in simulation as a clinical teaching tool has largely benefit both facilitators/medical consultants /lecturers) and students. What then can be done to expand the Skills Center?
I think it is something that has come at the right time because if you look at the training of our system, we do a lot of didactic teaching with less practical skills. But the time has come that we need to make sure that our students have skills. So the skills center has just come at the right time. It will complement their clinical skills and make them better doctors, besides it will enhance their clinical and professional practice. So I think we shouldn’t just sit back but do our best to expand and improve upon the existing facilities. We need to make sure that all hands get on board to support the skills facility and also to support to the staff there so that they can impact our students and so improve the training and education of our medical students. So it is something, I’m so much happy about. Perhaps we can link up with other top class Medical schools to help us to improve upon the facilities further.
Any challenges facing the Medical School and the University as a whole?
Yeah, I think we have challenges, obviously, every institution has challenges. Basically, at the moment what we’re trying to do is to expand and improve the facilities that we have so that our students will have an atmosphere conducive to study and to acquire the requisite knowledge relevant to their professional training. And so we looking at providing and expanding the facilities to enhance medical training. It is a challenge but I think we are addressing it, to make sure that we provide the atmosphere conducive for our medical students.
Is there a way the Government is supporting to take care of some of these challenges?
Oh yes the Government is doing what it can but obviously, we also have a very dynamic Vice chancellor and a Dean, who are doing their best to attract corporate bodies and Philanthropists to come to our aid. I believe such continuous engagement of government, cooperate bodies, philanthropists, individuals, can go a long way to expand our facilities and thus enhance teaching and training.
Prof, in few words, what message will you like to share with your colleagues, as well as the general staff of the School?
My last words to my colleagues is that, let us see ourselves as partners in trade with a key commitment and dedication to our core duties of teaching, research and service to our great school. Let us support each other to bring the best of our abilities and dedication to the school so that we can really produce top quality doctors. Besides that, I also think it is important that we respect each colleague as a unique individual and give our maximum support so that together we can attain the best for this great institution. On that note I think we need to encourage ourselves to do just that.
Prof, lastly, what advice do you have for the students?
Students don’t go for the instant answers to life’s challenges; you need to work hard, be critical thinkers and be the best of doctors you want to be by dedication, hard work, tenacity and perseverance.
Thanks so much for your time