By Ang Hoe Khoon, Executive & Nicole Lim, Assistant Director,
Communications and External Relations
With its more than 220 members split across two campuses and following different schedules, the current LKCMedicine Medical Society (LKCMedSoc) Executive Committee (ExCo) has its work cut out to build a cohesive student and School culture. But it is a challenge the ExCo team has taken on with great gusto.
Vice-President for Welfare and Class of 2019 student Ken Chua said, "We have an opportunity to do something different. Because we're so small, we can get to know our seniors and juniors. And that's the kind of culture we want to promote."
With the room to innovate and start new traditions, the ExCo is excited about this "pretty awesome" opportunity, and one that is not always possible in more established student societies.
Building on strong foundations
Starting with support systems put in place by the School and a number of fast-emerging traditions, including freshmen orientation camp IntroDOCtion, the Peanut Butter & Jam jamming event, as well as the House system, the ExCo's focus is very much on making these events fully aligned to student interests. Vice-President for Student Life and Class of 2019 student Lee Cheok Hon said, "We inherited quite a few popular events. So most of what we're trying to do is put more emphasis on them, so that more people attend."
In addition to offering transport to help the clinical year students come back to NTU campus for activities, the ExCo is making sure that events and activities are communicated and advertised prominently to encourage everyone to join.
The third LKCMedicine Medical Society Executive Committee: (L-R, back row) Ken Chua, Goh Kang Shiong and Lee Cheok Hon; and (L-R, front row) Richard Chan and Aric Lee
The Inter-House Championship, for example, is made more competitive and engaging through leader boards, mini-events such as Instagram photo competitions for best dressed House, and regular publicity to keep up the friendly competition throughout the year. Unique House apparel that changes from year to year – from t-shirts to wristbands – is another way through which stronger House identities are being forged.
While introducing new elements, the ExCo is keeping its ear close to the ground. Honorary Treasurer and the only Class of 2020 student on the ExCo, Richard Chan, said that after each event, "The event head will conduct a survey to get a sentiment of how the event went, so maybe next year, we can increase funding [if it went well]."
Catering to student needs
To continue serving the needs of the growing student community effectively, one of the things the ExCo has done is to restructure itself and the sub-committees it oversees. Reporting to the General Secretary are now two new sub-committees, covering publicity and publications, and international relations. Current Secretary and Class of 2019 student Aric Lee said, "One thing that the international relations head is trying to do is to set up exchanges with other universities and medical schools that match what we learn." This includes synching the timing and topic of exchanges with the LKCMedicine calendar and curriculum.
While the need for improved communications had already been identified by the previous ExCo, the current team felt they could further build on existing initiatives. Led by Tan Guan Zhong as Publicity and Publications Head, students now receive The Blurb, a monthly summary updating them on the latest developments and upcoming activities. Aric said, "Last year, we had a newsletter every two months. Now we have The Blurb, and every quarter we plan to have a newsletter, maybe done in video format."
While these two developments focus on serving students better, the ExCo is also working on bigger plans, including creating a new position to oversee initiatives that support students' academic needs.
The idea for the new position of Academic Director emerged from the observation that the year representatives' role had grown beyond the original intent. LKCMedSoc President and Class of 2019 student Goh Kang Shiong said, "Originally, Year Reps were only supposed to provide academic feedback and facilitate the process of helping students with their academic progress. But the role expanded to become a class monitor."
Current LKCMedSoc organisation chart
Once established, the Academic Director will work with the Year Reps to oversee any academic issues that may arise, work on facilitating research opportunities for interested students and looking for opportunities to help the senior students adapt to residency. For research opportunities, Kang Shiong, who is driving this initiative for now, is hoping to set up links and connections that can bring students and researchers from various healthcare institutions together. He said, "We want to make sure they naturally find their interests, to be aware of the different kinds of projects, and also to find something they're really truly passionate about."
Working with Year Reps, the Academic Director will also help make learning more effective by having, for example, synthesis sessions where content experts give a review session of a teaching block's key concepts.
Growing a network beyond the School
But the LKCMedSoc is not just about running events and looking after the academic needs of LKCMedicine students. It is also a conduit through which to build strong ties at the undergraduate level with the other medical and nursing schools, so that everyone knows each other by the time they start their clinical years.
An early initiative between LKCMedicine, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies are the annual Med-Nurse Games.
Cheok Hon said, "We're trying to flesh out ideas that bring the three schools together, so we meet each other before we go to a hospital environment."
The ExCos of the three medical schools are also looking to create a more collaborative spirit between them. Supported by the Singapore Medical Association, discussions are ongoing. One idea the team is exploring is a way of sharing information about interesting tutorials.
But for the LKCMedSoc, it is not just ties with local schools that matter. The team is also working on broadening the connection with Imperial students. One key pillar of these expansion plans is a week-long exchange for Year 2 students, the first of which will see nine Year 2 students heading to London on 28 February. The students will attend early year teaching, practical classes and a traditional human anatomy session, as well as visit teaching hospitals and take part in student life events at the College.
This, Kang Shiong hopes, will serve as a starting point from which other projects can grow. For example, a joint Overseas Community Involvement Project, which allows students to reunite after the exchange and deliver care to communities in need, or making grand rounds (during which the medical problems and treatment of a particular patient are presented to an audience of doctors, residents and medical students) here and at Imperial available to students via video-conferencing. "We want to build on these ideas so that the exchange becomes not just one of the main pillars, but is also a jumping board," said Kang Shiong.
But at the end of the day, the ExCo's mission for the LKCMedSoc is to enable students to have an all-rounded, balanced and enjoyable time, so that when they leave, they do so with new friends, fond memories and are inspired to contribute back to the School in the future.