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Dean's Message

What the SKKU School of Medicine teaches

From the basic medical departments of Suwon, to the Samsung Medical Center, the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, and the Samsung Changwon Hospital, approximately 600 professors arduously work and instruct in their fields. To use the phrase The Best does not go far enough to describe the specialized medical knowledge which each professor teaches. Another component must be emphasized to students, and this is why we must practice humanism. We must not perceive the patient based solely on medical knowledge. This is the maxim which we emphasize to our students who are practicing medicine in outpatient clinics or wards.

The SKKU School of Medicine (SKKU SOM) does not merely teach medical knowledge. We teach how

to learn: the basics of how to live as a human being. For example, we do not educate students to become doctors who would simply prescribe antiemetics for patients who suffer from vomiting. The etiology might not be gastrointestinal alone, but it may be cerebral or psychological, and we can even identify unexpected diseases by taking into account different symptoms other than vomiting. We teach students to communicate with patients and their family and to astutely inquire the environmental changes that they have gone through. Seemingly trivial stories surrounding their patients ought to be considered when diagnosing and treating patients. Undoubtedly, clinical reasoning does not consist of sheer medical knowledge. Therefore, we encourage students to consider a broad variety of studies: psychology, to understand others thoughts; engineering, to form the foundations of medical technology; and economics, to carve something out for themselves.

In 2017, the SKKU SOM returned to its original 2+4 curriculum, and the SMART (Sungkyunkwan Medical educational Approach Reaching the Top) guidelines were launched. Problem-based learning, the foundational program of the SKKU SOM, develops self-directed learning. Additionally, we put a significant emphasis on student research, humanistic medicine, and ethics, as well. Thus, SKKUs academic teaching inuiyeji (: benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom), is incorporated into silsagusi (ϴ, seeking truth grounded on concrete evidence) medicine.


Furthermore, we need to prepare for the future. As Yuval Noah Harari, author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, writes, Everything changes. This change projects a near future with artificial intelligence, which Ray Kurzweil depicts in The Singularity Is Near. We must develop the ability to penetrate artificial intelligence, even though pessimistic opinion might suggest that machine learning will eventually replace the role of human doctors. Society demands an education that enriches doctors who can shine the most even if dataism does take over, as Harari states.

Humanism is the approach to which the SKKU SOM seeks to educate. Artificial intelligence should walk along side humanism. And the specialized professors of the SKKU SOM will make this a reality. Although we live in a rapidly changing world, some things will never change. Medical scientists must bear in mind the same professionalism that we have long cherished.


“Hence, we teach the basics.”



Yon Ho Choe MD PhD
Dean, School of Medicine
Sungkyunkwan University