Julie Chen completed a Bachelors degree in chemistry and earned her medical and family medicine qualifications in Canada, following which she worked in private practice in Toronto. After re-locating to Hong Kong she joined the University of Hong Kong as an honorary Family Medicine teacher and became a full time staff member in 2007. With a joint appointment in the Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care and the Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Education, she is actively involved in teaching medical students across all years of study, overseeing the FM curriculum as Chief of Undergraduate Education, and co-coordinating the MBBS Year 3 curriculum. She has been recognized for her work in family medicine and medical education with a Faculty Teaching Medal in 2012 and the University Outstanding Teaching Award (Team) in 2013 for her contributions to the MBBS medical humanities programme.
Her research interests are in the areas of medical education (particularly development, assessment and evaluation of curricula related to family medicine, medical humanities and professionalism), and doctors health and wellbeing, with a focus on qualitative methodologies.
In medical education, Pen, Brush and Camera: an outcomes-based approach to medical humanities discussed an innovative approach to structuring a medical humanities programme, based on the educational pedagogy of an outcomes-based approach to student learning. It directly addressed one of the main concerns debated in the literature about the lack of rigour in medical humanities curricula. This project was further recognized with an innovation in medical education award by a panel of international medical education experts. Art-mediated peer-to-peer learning of empathy demonstrated a practical application of a medical humanities programme to undergraduate medical studies and illustrated the value of peer emotional disclosure in facilitating consideration of empathy. This work was recognized for its potential impact beyond the university and was awarded a Knowledge Exchange Grant to pursue this.
Peer physical examination (PPE) is widely recognized as a valuable tool for the learning of clinical skills and though many studies have documented student willingness to participate, Does medical student willingness to practise peer physical examination translate into action? is the first study to demonstrate that willingness to examine ones peer does not necessarily translate into action. As the first study to examine a homogeneous Chinese population, socio-cultural factors were raised as possible explanation of results. These findings are significant in the understanding of how to optimize student learning through PPE and triggered a letter to the editor.
In the area of doctors health, her paper on Doctors' personal health care choices: a cross-sectional survey in a mixed public/private setting was the first study of doctors illness behaviour to include all doctors listed on the medical register of a population and the first such study in Asia. It detailed the potentially worrisome mind-set and practice of self-treatment among doctors, consistent with international findings, which has implications on the health of health care providers and by extension, their patients.