Ricky Tsang

Dental surgeon, University Medical Service Office
35-year award

The hum of motors is the first thing that greets a visitor to Dr Ricky Tsang’s dental treatment room. Any apprehension, though, is swiftly banished by the reassuring presence of the unhurried, soft-spoken dentist within. It is in Tsang’s nature to help and to make people feel comfortable, dovetailing with his realisation long ago that he was cut out for public service, which rose above commercial considerations. In the spring of 1988, the dentistry graduate from the University of Hong Kong put behind him a two-year stint in other public and private organisations and joined CUHK.

Unsurprisingly, he sees his workplace as a wonderland where there is nothing to worry about. Fear may be the most common emotion at the dentist’s, but Tsang explains how he tries to relieve anxiety in the clinical setting.

“On top of coming up with the best treatment plan, we have to put ourselves in patients’ shoes by understanding their needs, thoughts and feelings, so that they may feel at ease with the treatment. This requires talking things through with them, and also time and a lot of patience.” Upon encountering people who are on edge, he will first chat with them, and go into details of the therapy when they feel more relaxed.

Tsang and colleagues in his dental surgery in 1990 (courtesy of interviewee)
A group of like-minded University members including Tsang strummed and sang at the 2003 CUHK Staff Ball around Christmas, the lyrics having been rewritten by a colleague to pay tribute to then Vice-Chancellor Professor Ambrose King (3rd right) (courtesy of interviewee)

“Soothing people’s nerves gets us halfway through the treatment,” he adds.

Once, a student who needed tooth restoration said after treatment that his fear dissipated as Tsang spoke. There was also a 50-year-old patient who had long neglected his oral health due to fear. Ever the empathetic listener, Tsang took things one step at a time, first teaching him the correct way of brushing. The conversations calmed him down, and Tsang went on to split the scaling procedures into multiple sessions. The treatment was a success.

To Tsang, CUHK is not just a place where he works and lives. He used to head up the dental unit, and outside medical and administrative duties, he was a mainstay of the Staff Association as well, organising activities in the 1980s and 1990s. The ardent songster would give singing performances and be a master of ceremonies during the association’s banquets, once even taking the crown at its singing contest.

The Employees’ Credit Union and Shaw College were other places into which Tsang put much heart. At the former, he served as president from 1997 to 2001, while at the latter, he oversaw the sports and recreation programme from 2007 right through last year. A brilliant sportsman, Tsang is good at the four major racket sports: table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis. In the Vice-Chancellor’s Cup this year, he helped the college clinch the tennis championship, badminton runner-up position and overall runner-up. CUHK has truly been witness to the versatility of this long-serving staff member.

The joint team of Shaw and Wu Yee Sun Colleges celebrating their victories (courtesy of interviewee)

By Amy Li
Photo by Keith Hiro

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