By Sufian Suderman
Meet the class of 2020
Helping his father along the road to recovery from a stroke in 2007 sealed the deal for Muhammad Fadzil Kamarudin. He was going to study medicine. On 17 August, the former Pioneer Junior College (PJC) student together with his new classmates received his white coat from LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best at the third White Coat Ceremony held at the Nanyang Auditorium. With this, he officially charted new waters for himself and for the School – as LKCMedicine’s first student from PJC and one of the School’s first Malay students.
Fadzil from PJC and his classmates try on their white coats on the first day of school
Like his peers, Fadzil was offered a place at LKCMedicine after a rigorous admissions process which included the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and the Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) on top of stellar individual qualifications. Fadzil said, “Overall, I enjoyed the MMI. I was able to express my views and interact with my future professors. It made the application process more challenging as I took the BMAT only during my second year of National Service. It took a while to get used to hitting the books again but ultimately, BMAT was just another hurdle for me to pursue medicine.”
Prior to entering LKCMedicine, many freshmen volunteered at hospitals and homes, shadowing medical professionals in order to better understand their chosen profession. Toh Kian Chui scholar Wong Chun Jie did just that – he headed the pioneer student committee for the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) programme. GUSTO is a national birth cohort study funded by a Translational Clinical Research Flagship Programme grant from the National Medical Research Council. The student committee organised student volunteers to support the research staff at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and National University Hospital by assisting during routine follow-ups and raising awareness of the study.
The freshmen familiarise themselves with LKCMedicine’s online e-learning environment
The former Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) student said, “After many rounds of interaction with the children, I gained a better understanding of how to handle them. Patience, observation and adaptation to their varying temperaments were key. There were a few of our student volunteers who made things difficult for us. Their actions reminded me that the true essence of volunteering is to spend as much time and effort with the study participants, something that holds true for doctors. As doctors, helping others is not only a responsibility or passion, but a calling.”
For LKCMedicine Scholar Tan Khee Ming, the biggest draw to join the School is its emphasis on teamwork and critical thinking through the School’s adopted pedagogy, Team-Based Learning (TBL). The former Raffles Institution (RI) student said, “Through TBL, we will get to discuss our ideas within our group before presenting them to the class, including the subject matter experts. More importantly, I think it trains us to think logically and coherently while reminding us to be respectful and humble towards other diverse opinions during charged discussions.”
The School’s early clinical exposure was another big draw for the freshmen. Such early exposure to clinical practice helps students to understand and appreciate the importance of the human touch while practising medicine. Nanyang scholar and former RI student Andrea Ng said, “Early clinical exposure helps to build up our own confidence as we get used to communicating and working with our patients. It will help us to build up our soft skills which will equip us to be better doctors who provide patient-centred care in the future as we can tap the first-hand experience that we have accumulated.”
Seniors lend a helping hand during the freshmen’s first day at school
The new freshmen’s LKCMedicine journey began with IntroDOCtion, the School’s orientation camp. Besides activities that took them across Singapore, the programme included a segment called Patient’s Shoes, where the freshmen had to complete simple tasks such as eating cereal while suffering from tremors or putting on a jacket with arthritic fingers. They also experienced the impact of a communication breakdown between doctors and patients. Khee Ming said, “Although it was a small slice of what patients go through daily, I felt it was a very impactful activity. It taught us that we must understand the motivations and reasons behind the behaviour of others, be it our patients, colleagues or anyone else. If we think that there is no reason, it probably just means that we haven’t found it yet. It’s not an exaggeration to say that most of us walked away from the activity with a heavy heart.”
During IntroDOCtion, the freshmen were also able to find out more about life as an LKCMedicine student from their seniors. Fadzil said, “By talking to my seniors, I got a glimpse into university and hall life, as well as life as an LKCMedicine student. The seniors also shared some really useful tips on how to juggle our academic workload with our other commitments such as extracurricular activities and hobbies.”
LKCMedicine student. The seniors also shared some really useful tips on how to juggle our academic workload with our other commitments such as extracurricular activities and hobbies.”
The incoming cohort is particularly excited about living in halls. Andrea said, “Staying in halls allows me to learn to be independent as I’ll be away from the comfort of my own home. It also allows me to make new friends, cultivate strong relations with them and create a network of support.”
Former RI student Andrea, who is excited about the early clinical exposure
the School offers, completes registration in the new Learning Studio
LKCMedicine’s student life activities and House system help to facilitate and forge strong bonds within the student body, something that former HCI student Jia Ye Tanoto Lim, whose sister is a student in LKCMedicine’s inaugural cohort, noticed. He said, “My sister always mentioned how close her batch is to her junior’s. Perhaps it is because of the small cohort size and the relative youth of the School but I did find it remarkable that such a relationship was cultivated despite the heavy workload of medical school.”
On their first day in School on 3 August, the students were hosted by Prof Best to a Welcome Reception held for the first time at the brand new Experimental Medicine Building. Mingling with their seniors, faculty and staff, the freshmen felt that it was an honour to be among the first cohorts to enjoy the brand new facilities such as the Learning Studio and teaching laboratories.
Chun Jie said, “I am amazed by the state-of-the-art learning and research facilities that the School has built as well as the architectural emphasis on collaborative spaces that will definitely augment my learning. It is very exhilarating that my cohort is able to use such fantastic facilities right from the start.”