By Melvin Lim & Tan Wei Jie
Class of 2019
During our week-long break at the beginning of March, nine of us visited Imperial College School of Medicine, our sister school across the globe as part of an exchange programme designed to enhance the links between our two medical schools. As part of the programme, a delegation of Imperial students will visit LKCMedicine in August this year. This will hopefully pave the way for future exchanges and collaborations between the two institutions.
The nine of us with the Imperial medical students who will be joining us in August 2016
This trip, meticulously planned by Imperial, was jam-packed with unforgettable and enriching experiences to let us understand the life of a medical student in London. We sat in on their lectures and seminars, and even joined their clinical teaching sessions. In addition, we had the opportunity to finally meet a number of the School of Medicine faculty who have narrated our Team-Based Learning (TBL) e-lectures, as well as a number of other faculty members from Imperial College London.
With Dr Maniccam Thavarajah (left), who delivers our e-lectures on the anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract
One of the highlights of the trip was the chance to perform cadaveric dissections of the superior mediastinum (the space above the heart and between the lungs), when we sat in on a Year 1 anatomy class. It was undoubtedly a new and visceral experience feeling real, soft tissue beneath our gloved fingers instead of the carefully preserved plastinated specimens that we are familiar with. We were invigorated by the chance to dissect, reveal, feel and study the anatomy of the heart and its related structures in such vivid detail.
Another unforgettable experience was the chance to visit GP clinics throughout London and participate in short clinical attachments at Charing Cross Hospital. Through these experiences, we got to witness first-hand how the National Health Service works by witnessing both the patients’ and doctors’ experiences within the system.
During the clinical teachings at Charing Cross Hospital, the teaching fellows from Imperial showed us around the hospital and allowed us to examine patients to uncover and learn about the clinical presentations of a variety of diseases. We could barely contain our excitement as we listened to pansystolic murmurs, end-inspiratory lung crackles and chatted with a patient who was recuperating post-op after a bowel resection for Crohn’s Disease, words and diseases that we had previously only ever seen in our TBL questions in class and never in the flesh.
It was a truly educational day as we juxtaposed Singapore’s citizen-government co-payment model against the UK’s tax-financed healthcare system, debating the merits and downfalls of both models.
With Dr Sara, one of the teaching fellows at Imperial
Of course, no trip to London is complete without exploring the smorgasbord of social and cultural activities available just a short tube ride away. In our short week there, we watched musicals like “Les Misérables” in the West End, toured many of London’s famous museums, and visited historical medical sites such as the oldest operating theatre in Europe (The Old Operating Theatre Museum) and the Royal College of Surgeons. We also went sightseeing along the River Thames, ate at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and of course, shopped to our hearts’ content on Oxford Street.
It was an enlightening exchange that will hopefully be the first of many more to come, as we seek to develop and bolster a healthy, collaborative relationship between Imperial and LKCMedicine. It was heartening to recognise the very same values that we emphasise in Singapore being taught in our sister school in London — that of patient-centred care, empathy and life-long self-directed learning.
At the end of a tiring and exciting week, we left London having formed new friendships, with wiser hearts and minds filled with unforgettable experiences, and the desire to see more such collaborations and exchanges with Imperial College London.
With Prof Ceri Davies (centre), Chair of Anatomy at Imperial College School of Medicine, in front of the Royal College of Surgeons