October 2018 | Issue 38
Imperial Exchange Student: Learning from Singapore

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By Robert Grogan, Year 2 student, Imperial College London 

Crossing the Benjamin Sheares Bridge on the way to our hotel after an exhausting 13-hour flight, we were instantly energised by the idyllic views of Marina Bay and gazed in awe at the infinite ocean on one side, and a towering cityscape on the other. The wait was over, and we were here, buzzing with excitement, impatient to explore the city and LKCMedicine (after some sleep, that is!). 

On our full day in Singapore – a Sunday – we were elated to see the familiar faces of LKCMedicine exchange students whom we met in London, greeting us at Gardens by the Bay. As the chilly water from the world’s largest indoor waterfall came crashing down, we were enveloped in a cool mist of tiny water droplets, a welcome relief from the heat to which we were unaccustomed! After exploring the two domes, we visited the ArtScience Museum, and then ate at a hawker centre for the first time! After lunch, we ascended to level 57 of Marina Bay Sands hotel to watch the sunset. We marvelled at the futuristic skyline as it transformed into a dramatic silhouette, superimposed on a yolky sunset. 

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LKCMedicine and Imperial students visit popular touris spots all around Singapore, like the Gardens by the Bay

On Monday, it was time to visit LKCMedicine. We were overwhelmed by the huge range of facilities on the Novena campus. We took part in an experiment simulating age-related impairment, including in hearing and vision (glasses imitated conditions such as retinal detachment), as well as gloves to simulate Parkinson’s Disease. This would enable us to empathise with elderly patients. 

Our anatomy session revealed a big difference between LKCMedicine and Imperial: dissection. Without this, I expected it to be difficult to visualise anatomy, however the use of technological aids enables LKCMedicine students to build up a 3D image of the body in a similar way to Imperial students. Full-size ‘virtual cadavers’ on screen can be sectioned at any angle, and the plastinated specimens allow for easy identification of structures. We found it particularly useful that during all anatomy sessions, related pathological specimens would be displayed with barcodes, which when scanned, led to annotation of the specimen on a high definition image. This integration of anatomy and pathology must be very valuable to LKCMedicine students. 

I was very excited on Tuesday to finally experience what we have heard so much about at Imperial: Team Based Learning (TBL). The Learning Studio is perfectly designed to facilitate discussion within and between small groups of around six. Having reviewed the pre-reading, it made perfect sense to me that the time spent in university is focused on active learning and testing one’s own understanding (and that of your group), rather than simply delivering content. I found the way that students would ask each other questions, and then have this validated by the content expert to be highly effective. I believe the two schools are clearly learning from each other, as Imperial is also striving to make learning sessions more interactive through iBooks (on the iPads which are given to every student), online quizzes, self-tests and small group tutorials.

Our observational placement in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was a fascinating opportunity to compare the UK’s National Health Service with the Singaporean life insurance and subsidy system. The efficiency of the Singaporean healthcare system was clear to see, but the different levels of comfort on different wards within the same hospital depending on the level of subsidy was unfamiliar. We thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to clinics and examinations and many of us got a chance to talk to some patients too. 

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Imperial students had a peek of the Singapore healthcare system during their visit to TTSH, comparing it to the UK's National Health Service

Throughout the trip, we were very grateful that LKCMedicine set up dinners in a variety of restaurants with different cuisines. This was one of our favourite parts of the trip, allowing us to split into three groups to form genuine and meaningful friendships with LKCMedicine students, whom we already miss! It was also very exciting to meet some students in M2 at the dinners, some of whom may take part in the exchange to London next March, where we will be sure to welcome them warmly with our juniors. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teams at Imperial and LKCMedicine who set up this incredible trip, and to all the students who made us feel so welcome during our stay.