August 2020 | Issue 49
A memorable journey

Naomi Low-Beer byline.jpgBy Professor Naomi Low-Beer, LKCMedicine Vice-Dean (Education) 

My LKCMedicine journey began in December 2010, when I was asked to take up the position of Curriculum Development Lead for the new 'Imperial-NTU Medical School' in Singapore. Many medical schools worldwide are collaborations between universities, but this would be different; a true partnership, with all elements of the programme –  curriculum, assessment, admissions, student support –  designed and developed by teams in London and Singapore working in collaboration.

The programme would combine the very best from the Imperial MBBS curriculum with new evidence-based educational approaches and innovations, drawing on expertise from Imperial, NTU and the National Healthcare Group, and achieving international standards of excellence. Our mission; to train the very best doctors for Singapore; doctors who would advance the science and practice of medicine for the good of humanity.

I had originally expected my contribution to be limited and London-based, but as the new curriculum took shape, my commitment grew. I began to realise how personally invested I had become in the School's success; I was appointed as Vice-Dean (Education) in April 2013, relocating to Singapore full-time in 2014. 

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Prof Low-Beer was asked to take up the position of Curriculum Development Lead for the new 'Imperial-NTU Medical School' in Singapore

It is now seven years since the matriculation of our first cohort, and LKCMedicine has become recognised for several key achievements. First and foremost, we have produced three cohorts of doctors for Singapore, who have impressed with their professionalism, communication skills and competence. They have been prepared for practice by a modern, technology-enabled curriculum, featuring innovative approaches to Team-Based Learning (TBL), anatomy education, clinical communication, and student assistantship.

Secondly, two Imperial-led international reviews of the MBBS programme have had highly successful outcomes. The Periodic Review in 2019 praised the dedication of the academic and administrative staff, noting that this had resulted in "the delivery of a world-class medical education where students feel fully supported". Our programme has also had an impact on learning and teaching at Imperial, on the wider medical education landscape in Singapore, as well as being a focus of international interest from medical schools across the world.

Thirdly, despite being a young medical school, we have already made significant contributions to medical education research, notably in the areas of TBL, anatomy education, diagnostic reasoning and transitions to clinical practice. Medical education has now become one of the School's research programmes, and in partnership with Imperial, we have established Transform MedEd as a signature medical education conference with international impact.  

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Prof Low-Beer shared that since the matriculation of our first cohort, LKCMedicine has become recognised for several key achievements

Whilst I feel very sad to be leaving, I feel proud of the School and its achievements. One achievement stands out for me, and that is the strong sense of community, developed and nurtured through partnership between faculty, staff, students and alumni. The resilience of our LKCMedicine community was particularly evident in recent months as together we shouldered the educational challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our students impressed with their professionalism and collegiality, engaging in dialogue, giving constructive feedback, accepting with good grace the many changes to their curriculum and assessments, and helping one another.

The medical education teams, led by the Assistant Deans, senior management and support staff, demonstrated extraordinary commitment, working tirelessly to devise and implement the necessary adjustments to the education programme, and doing their very best to ensure that the students' support needs were met. Our alumni, including those in frontline hospital roles, also provided support and encouragement for our students, and for our newly qualified PGY1 doctors.

To have provided leadership at such a testing time has been a great privilege. I leave LKCMedicine knowing that the School community is strong, united and able to adapt. Furthermore, my successor, Jennifer Cleland, has an outstanding track record as a leader in medical education and educational research. I am confident that with Jennifer's leadership, LKCMedicine will continue to thrive, and the values of our School – humility, integrity, compassion, continuous learning and professionalism – will endure.

As I reflect upon my LKCMedicine journey, I recognise how many dedicated people (too many to name) have enabled the School's success; to those of you who are reading this, my sincere thanks. Together, we have developed an excellent medical education programme and produced graduates of whom we can be immensely proud. We have also established a community united by common values and an unwavering commitment to LKCMedicine's mission.