April 2020 | Issue 47
Of the Cheshire Cat and Covid-19
Reflecting on the choices and decisions we have made 

Alice: Which way should I go?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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By Emmanuel Tan Chee Peng, Deputy Head for Student Wellbeing; Senior House Tutor (Marie Curie House); Lead for Educational Engagement


I read Alice in Wonderland a long time ago. Thus, it seems rather strange that this story about a young child’s journey through a seemingly confused world kept coming to mind.

Perhaps, these recurring thoughts are not so coincidental. We are, in fact, living in extraordinary times. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread globally, infecting people in more than 100 countries, including Singapore. On 7 February 2020, Singapore raised its DORSCON level from Yellow to Orange. Changes had to be made to the way we conduct large classes and clinical postings. 

The truth is we cannot change the cards we are dealt. But we certainly can decide and choose how we respond to these realities. Our technology-enabled pedagogical approach and curriculum design enabled us to respond nimbly and effectively. We very quickly replaced the teaching of large classes with online delivery, and clinical training with simulated clinic session and ward rounds. Students embraced these changes with an open mind, adapted to the new modes of learning very quickly and provided a lot of positive feedback. They are thankful to be able to continue their learning and greatly enjoyed the e-TBL and simulated clinical sessions so far.

LKCMedicine’s alumni and senior year students came forward voluntarily to draft clinical scenarios and teach their juniors. Faculty and staff wholeheartedly gave their time and dedication, and House Tutors continued their unwavering support to ensure students’ wellbeing. I am very comforted to hear that students were grateful to their House Tutors’ personalised care and mentorship and being able to continue their one-to-one meetings either in person or via Zoom.

Everyone is determined to keep LKCMedicine safe and to carry on with life as normally as possible, despite longer working hours, increased workload and being on the frontline seeing patients. LKCMedicine’s robust response to COVID-19 reflects our strong sense of purpose and shared values which unite and encourage everyone in these testing times. 

COVID-19, too, shall pass. But there will be new challenges when we will have to make difficult decisions and choices. Such is perhaps the nature of life. When we contemplate the question “Which way should I go?”, the Cheshire Cat’s timely reminder to have a clear sense of purpose is helpful, and so are the values of humility, integrity and compassion. 

Stay safe and vigilant. And remember to smile!