August 2016 | Issue 25
​Benefitting from the Singapore partnership

Profile picture - ML.jpg

By Mr Martin Lupton, Associate Dean and Head of Undergraduate Medicine
Imperial College London

There has been a steady stream of academic staff, education and research faculty, and now students travelling between Imperial and LKCMedicine. But it is not just people who travel between the two Schools: ideas, novel uses of technology and best educational practices are shared too.

Imperial was first approached some seven years ago to consider working with NTU to create an innovative medical programme to train doctors for Singapore; doctors who would advance the science and practice of medicine for the good of humanity. It did not take long to decide that we should join NTU in this ambitious project. We did so for many reasons but one of them was the recognition that we could learn so much from our colleagues in Singapore.

The development of the LKCMedicine curriculum has provided opportunities for a significant number of academic and administrative staff from across our Faculty of Medicine to be involved in designing a brand new, fully Team-Based Learning (TBL) curriculum – one which draws on the existing Imperial MBBS curriculum, but makes use of an innovative pedagogy and is fully contextualised to the Singapore medical environment. In turn, this has allowed our faculty an opportunity to reconsider the existing Imperial MBBS curriculum and how we should teach it.

Imperial students taking part in early TBL trials.jpg
Imperial students taking part in early Team-Based Learning trials

Many of us at Imperial have been particularly interested in TBL and several courses across our MBBS and biomedical science programmes have begun trialling this. TBL has so far been introduced as a new teaching modality for pathology in Year 5, endocrinology in Years 1 and 2, and parts of our Science and the Patient and Life Studies Skills courses during the MBBS. It has also been introduced for pharmacology in Year 2 of the BSc in Biomedical Sciences. We are considering more widespread use of TBL in the new BSc in Medical Biosciences which will launch in 2017.

Spurred on by the successful integration of e-learning technology into the LKCMedicine MBBS curriculum, we are now looking to introduce the use of tablet technology much more widely across our London undergraduate programmes for both clinical and non-clinical education. Since 2014, iPads have been given to all students on all years of the MBBS, which they use to access course materials and Imperial’s range of e-modules.

LKCMedicine-Imperial students discussing exchange ideas.jpg
LKCMedicine and Imperial students discuss potential academic links to build between the two schools during the inaugural exchange trip to London

All the while, the stream of exchange visits and ties between faculty and students continue to multiply. The recently launched student exchange programme will see the first group of Imperial exchange students travelling to LKCMedicine this month, following the inaugural visit of LKCMedicine students to London in February/March 2016. We have high hopes for the collaborative projects these students are designing, which will help them be better doctors and strengthen the bonds between our two institutions.
New collaborative research and medical education research opportunities are being developed, with a number of visiting professorships granted to LKCMedicine staff at Imperial, and Imperial staff at LKCMedicine to facilitate this.

Particularly, in the area of medical education research, we have begun work on projects which will look at the experiences of students and the outcomes of two differing medical curricula set in very different educational environments. We hope that this research will underpin our relentless efforts to implement improvements to the two MBBS programmes.

International relationships are complicated and some times hard work, but as I sit here reflecting, my spirit is lifted by the fact that seven years ago, nothing existed. However, through the collaboration of two great institutions and, more importantly, the people in those institutions, a fantastic new medical school now exists in Singapore.

Furthermore, that collaboration has reinvigorated and improved the medical school in London. Isn’t that the definition of “win, win”?!