The rewards of participating in the Elsevier ClinicalKey Global Challenge are so much more than the final results.
By Aaron Goh Qi Yang, Class of 2021
I was extremely thankful to be selected as one of 12 finalists to represent LKCMedicine, NTU, and Singapore in the final round of the Elsevier ClinicalKey Global Challenge, having successfully progressed through multiple online selection rounds. Held in London on 15 – 18 November, the Challenge brought together medical students from around the world to participate in a grand clinical finale. My team comprised three other medical students: Maria Ahmad from the UK, Folakemi Olaokun from South Africa, and Juan Pablo Scarano Pereira from Spain. We pulled through the challenges together and emerged as World Champions.
The Final Challenge: Escape Room
The atmosphere intensified as we stepped in the grounds of St George's University London. After rushing through breakfast and changing into our crisply ironed scrubs, we headed off for some workshops (truly the calm before the storm!). And before we knew what to expect next, it was time to enter the escape room.
The competition presented unique challenges, such as having to work with friends I had barely known for just over 48 hours! The challenges came hard and fast, and within seconds we had to figure out the most efficient way to apply our combined wealth of medical knowledge. Yet knowledge would only get us so far – beyond a certain point, the challenges were expertly designed to engage every member of the team. There was no place for taking a backseat here! My team members showed great initiative and resolve, taking each obstacle in our stride as we progressed from one challenge to the next. The most memorable part – and not in a good way – was having to lead my team during the second challenge. Coupled with jet lag, I could feel my brain shutting down as we progressed through the challenge!
My most valuable learning point could be summarised in the words of the Apostle Paul: "There are many parts, but one body". Very much like this analogy of a human body, each member of our team played a unique role and brought different perspectives to the table. Despite the differences in our experiences and knowledge, there was beauty in diversity as I saw first-hand how a team could truly be greater than the sum of its individual parts. We complemented one another's strengths and compensated for our shortcomings.
"And the winner of the ClinicalKey Global Challenge is… The Happy Red Blood Cells."
When the results were announced, I could barely contain my excitement! None of us could individually claim credit for the result; it was truly a team effort. We had come so far from being strangers on the first day, and I could not be more thankful for the memories and friendships that were made over the weekend.
But the growth did not end there – I received some of my greatest takeaways during various workshops held over the weekend. Orthopaedic surgery resident at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr Hao-Hua Wu's workshop on "360-Degree Leadership in Medicine" resonated particularly well with me. As he drew off principles from well-known leadership expert, author and pastor John C Maxwell, Dr Wu suggested that leadership was not just about one's titles or positions, and he challenged us with practical strategies to consider how we may influence the people around us as junior members of the medical fraternity.
"People are like books, with different stories packed within…"
Beyond the activities we had during that jam-packed weekend, it was the people I met at the competition who made the experience truly special. Despite our varied life experiences and coming from 10 different countries, medicine seemed to be a common language that united us. Everyone was so talented in their own right: an opera singer, a student doing a double degree in pre-hospital medicine, a part-time actor in a local musical, a Youtube influencer – these were just some of the incredible stories that the finalists had to tell, which made for some very interesting conversations. I consider myself blessed to have crossed paths with such an accomplished bunch; all of us are still in contact till this day!
What I appreciated most about the weekend was how it was designed to foster an atmosphere of cooperation, rather than one of competition. The event emphasised themes of leadership and teamwork, which I felt were very aptly chosen to reflect the soft skills we require to practise medicine in the 21st century. I have grown immensely through the competition, taking home many valuable lessons and skills that I hope to apply in my future career.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all students and faculty of LKCMedicine and NTU for the tremendous amount of support received during the competition.