By Bryan Ng, Class of 2018
On 28 August, I started my six-week overseas medical elective hosted by Imperial College London. I was very interested in this placement as I have always wanted to see Imperial, one of our two parent institutions which we have heard so much of over our years in medical school. It was also an ideal opportunity to experience medical practice in a new environment, and take in the amazing sights and sounds of London. After years of Team-Based Learning and ward rounds on our sunny island, everyone looked forward to our overseas experience.
Greeted by the chill winds of London, and amidst the hustle of settling into our new accommodation, we were warmly welcomed by the doctors and staff at Imperial on the first day. Thereafter, we were placed across various healthcare institutions in London, including Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, Hammersmith’s Hospital, West Middlesex Hospital, Charing’s Cross Hospital, and several General Practice surgeries.
I first undertook a two-week attachment at High Street Practice, a General Practice based in West Drayton (a western suburb in Greater London), under the tutelage of Dr Sujata Chadha. Sitting in during her clinics, I was struck by how similar the practice is to ones in Singapore - in terms of case load, clinical practice and administrative structure, I often found more commonalities than differences. There was, however, great value in the diverse demographics of the cosmopolitan city, as presentations such as inflammatory bowel disease and sickle cell anaemia are much more common in London. Dr Chadha also allowed me to take the hot seat under her supervision, during consultations ranging from baby checks to menopausal complaints.
Other sessions included sitting in a nursing station which did everything from wound dressing to child vaccination and diabetic counselling, and a workshop on medical prescribing. One particularly good experience was a day of home visits with the Community Matron, which was a prime example of personalised healthcare brought to the doorstep of patients.
After that, I began my four-week placement in General Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital. Consultant Dr Anne Kinderlerer and her team allowed me to participate in ward rounds and clerk several patients with interesting presentations. This was also timely revision of clinical examinations and procedures such as venepuncture and administering MoCAs (Montreal Cognitive Assessments that assess elderly patient’s cognitive abilities)! I also found myself joining the team for educational sessions of X-ray meetings and morning presentations, where junior doctors gave interactive case presentations (much like those in Singapore).
L-R: I spent a four-week placement at St Mary's Hospital; this was my ward team
Throughout my time at St Mary’s, I was most impressed with the communication skills displayed at all levels of staff – from nurses to doctors, who all were extremely effective at communicating with simplicity and empathy. Together with affording longer time and attention for each individual patient, I found the rapport between doctors and patients to be very well established.
Of course, our time in London was not all spent on wards and in clinics. Many weekends (and weekdays) were spent exploring London and other parts of the United Kingdom, under the encouragement of our supervisors. I went to beautiful places including the coast of Brighton and even visited friends doing their electives in Edinburgh. I also sampled the great eats London has to offer through its markets and restaurants, and enjoyed myself visiting royal parks teeming with wildlife and attending hilarious plays at musical theatres.
Being in London has been an enriching experience, and I'm certain that I'll remember it fondly in time to come.
L-R: Dinner with Prof Wong Lee Yuen (5th from bottom left), who was in charge of our electives; some friends and I on a sunny day on Brighton Beach