February 2017 | Issue 28
A look at the student assistantship programme

Anna Romito Byline Pic.jpg




By Dr Anna Romito, Curriculum Development Lead


In late November 2016, I had the joy of starting a three-month, extended visit to Singapore. This has supported ongoing, close dialogue with LKCMedicine teaching faculty, but also shown me more of Singapore’s thriving academia, scholarship and culture.

From schooling for my daughter to visiting partner healthcare institutions, I have been able to learn more about what happens either side of the time our students spend at medical school. From Singapore’s outstanding schooling system to impressive postgraduate training programmes within world-class clinical services, it is clear that our students are enveloped in educational excellence at all stages.      

With four year cohorts actively running, this visit was also an opportune time to explore and reflect on how the students’ experiences to date will support them in their final year at medical school.  

Students are already in advanced planning for their Year 5 overseas Electives and home Selectives. Following a period of consolidation of core clinical knowledge and skills, the latter part of Year 5 will then focus the students on practising the skills that they will need as graduates.  Students will spend 10 weeks undertaking a student assistantship programme, where they are firmly embedded within the workings of a clinical team, both in hospitals and in the community. Whilst the students learn the day-to-day clinical activities of PGY1 doctors, the student assistantship programme is also a time for them to take on some of the responsibilities of being a newly minted clinician, including teaching younger students. 

Our students have long shown their ability to help their peers learn, skills they demonstrate during every team-based learning activity. They have also shown their eagerness to share their knowledge and learn from others through student exchanges. Furthermore, they have shown enthusiasm and initiative in educating their juniors, through voluntary, cross-age peer teaching initiatives.

Building on students’ own organic engagement with teaching, Year 5 students will be formally supported in developing their skills as educators.  Informed by robust educational theory, students will learn teaching skills through a considered combination of e-learning, team-based learning and experiential learning. These are all strong, well-established teaching modalities at LKCMedicine, and in turn demonstrate the repertoire of teaching skills within the School.  Whilst our students - and because our students - master these essential skills, those around them will learn too.        

The student assistantship programme is also an excellent occasion for students to develop their professional identity. Actively contributing to the structure of their team is invaluable in developing a sense of themselves as clinical practitioners. Providing the supported, safe space to do this, the transition from student to doctor becomes seamless.

When I return to London, I will look back on the many exiting events I was able to join whilst in Singapore. From the opening of the Clinical Sciences Building with its magnificent, state-of-the-art facilities; to witnessing the formidable, musical talent of LKCMedicine students; to being enthralled by presentations of current educational research projects of the Medical Education Research & Scholarship Unit; to seeing representation of both Imperial and LKCMedicine at the 14th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference, that highlighted the valuable contributions both schools make to the international higher education community; all reminded me of what a privilege it is to be supporting bright, young people within such skilled institutions.