The short stint with a London General Practitioner (GP) made clear to Imperial student Chen Shen that she barely scratched the surface of dermatological conditions. To learn more, she chose to spend half of her elective at the National Skin Centre (NSC), a dedicated specialist dermatology centre, here in Singapore.
“Regardless of what specialty I go to in the future, knowing a bit of dermatology will be very helpful, as your skin condition can be a manifestation of many illnesses,” said Chen Shen.
Much like her, Imperial Year 6 student Antonia Whitaker also wanted to build up her experience in radiology and an immersive four-week elective at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) helped her do just that. She saw a wide variety of patients on ward rounds, honed her skills in image analysis and learnt more about life as a radiologist, giving her a comprehensive understanding of the field.
“This is good as it’s something I want to do career-wise,” said Antonia, who completed the remainder of her elective in Australia.
Both students were part of a group of six Imperial students who spent their Year 6 elective in Singapore as part of the LKCMedicine Electives programme from April 10 to May 26 2017, a programme which started in 2013. It offers opportunities for students from Imperial to experience what it is like to work in a hospital away from home. The students, who had up to seven weeks here, spent most of their time at one of the many departments at TTSH, under an arrangement supported by the National Healthcare Group, the primary clinical partner of LKCMedicine.
The elective programme was also a chance for the students to learn more about the healthcare setting in Singapore, and how healthcare professionals and patients work. Antonia learnt more about how doctor-patient relationships differ between Singapore and the UK, where patients are more involved in deciding their treatment.
“In Singapore, many patients leave the choice in the hands of their doctor,” observed Antonia.
When it came to hospital organisation and efficiency, the students were also impressed. Chen Shen said, “The referrals and how they are organised are very efficient. This is probably because here in Singapore, healthcare is very goal and target-oriented.”
Her batch mate James Bryan, who spent his elective at the ENT clinic at TTSH, was able to see a different case mix, including patients who suffer from nasal cancer, a condition much more prevalent in Asia.
While the patient mix may be different, the students observed that the healthcare scene is fundamentally the same between the two countries.
It was not all work and no play though, as the students found time to explore the sights and attractions of Singapore such as Marina Bay Sands, Clarke Quay and Chinatown. Keeping up with the Singaporean spirit, the students also tried all kinds of food from famous hawker centres.
From visiting patients to visiting national landmarks, the Imperial students left Singapore on May 26 with a better understanding of Singapore’s healthcare.