December 2017 | Issue 33
Inaugural elective students travel to London

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By Mr Martin Lupton, Associate Dean and Head of Undergraduate Medicine, Imperial Faculty of Medicine, with Michael Dobbin

Marcus Seneca, the famous Roman rhetorician, said “one of the most beautiful qualities of friendship is to understand and to be understood”. LKCMedicine is a collaboration between the people of two great countries, Singapore and the United Kingdom. It represents an opportunity for the development of friendship.

To develop a meaningful friendship, it is important to understand the other and this is why a programme of electives and exchanges has been developed between LKCMedicine and Imperial. Furthermore, the elective programme has allowed Singaporean students to experience not only tertiary level medicine in units which serve tens of millions of people, but also a different approach to primary care.

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Inaugural LKCMedicine final-year elective students at Imperial with Head of Learning Resources and Electives Director Dr Mike Barrett (front row, left), Collaboration Project Administrator Ms Roxy Hughes (first row, right) and Mr Michael Dobbin (second row, right)

To this end, 22 LKCMedicine final-year students travelled to London at the end of August to embark on the inaugural edition of the electives programme. The programme provided them with a bespoke experience of the UK National Health Service (NHS), warts and all. They were able to choose experiences of supervised practice from over 30 different hospital departments and General Practice surgeries, some with a global reputation for both clinical care and research. Postings included specialties such as Neurology, Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics, and Gynaecology, Infectious Diseases, Paediatrics and Endocrinology.

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LKCMedicine elective students on a tour of Imperial’s South Kensington Campus, guided by Dr Mike Barrett

On their first day, the students received a formal welcome from the Deputy High Commissioner of the Singapore High Commission, Ms Rozana Binte Abdul Majid, and Dr James Stratford-Martin, Head of Imperial Year 5 MBBS on behalf of Imperial. In her speech, Ms Rozana acknowledged the programme to be a reflection of the deep international links between Imperial and NTU, as well as between the United Kingdom and Singapore.

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2017 LKCMedicine final-year elective students with Imperial final-year students and Ms Rozana Binte Abdul Majid (front row, centre), Dr James Stratford-Martin (front row, right), and the rest of the Imperial team

The LKCMedicine students were an impressive bunch, charming, curious, enthusiastic and committed. They rapidly settled in to their clinical attachments in the greatest City in the World (I promise, I am not biased) and unsurprisingly the UK medical teams were delighted to have them. They were the perfect guests. 
While the British have a bit of a reputation for being reserved, this was not the students’ experience and they particularly commented on the positive reception and support received from staff within the Imperial NHS Trust and its associated hospitals. Students also provided fascinating insights into the similarities and differences between the UK and Singapore healthcare systems which they were able to share with Ms Lesley Watts, Chief Executive Officer of the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Healthcare Trust, and Professor Simon Barton, Clinical Director and a national figure in the world of HIV care.

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LKCMedicine students with (seated from left): Prof Simon Barton, Ms Lesley Watts, Mr Michael Dobbin, Ms Roxy Hughes; and Prof Mark Nelson (second row, right) and Undergraduate Teaching Co-Ordinator, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Mr Matthew Shotliff (back)

The LKCMedicine students also participated in Imperial clinical student teaching sessions, campus lectures, final year mock and Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills (PACES) exams.  Furthermore, four students presented their research posters at Imperial’s Annual Medical Education Research Conference (MERU) on 13 September. They represented Singapore extremely well!

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L-R: LKCMedicine Assistant Professor of Medical Education Jerome Rotgans, LKCMedicine Class of 2018 student Claudia Tong and Lee Hai Quan, Imperial MERU Director Professor Sue Smith, LKCMedicine Class of 2018 students Chew Yi Rong and Joey Wong, and Senior Lecturer in Medical Education and Lead for Educational Development & TBL Facilitation Dr Preman Rajalingam 

The electives ended with a wonderful dinner on Exhibition Road, where I discovered that many of our guests had taken advantage of our proximity to Europe and taken several long weekends to places such as Copenhagen, Paris and Edinburgh. From my point of view, the time that they had spent with us was all too short. It was, however, filled with a brilliant mixture of medicine, the wonders of Europe and the magic of London.

These are the sorts of experiences that allow friendship to develop after all.