By Professor Naomi Low-Beer, Vice-Dean for Education
Having welcomed our fifth medical student cohort, this landmark academic year begins with the official opening of LKCMedicine and will culminate in the graduation of our first cohort of doctors. So it is fitting to reflect on the extraordinary medical education journey of our young – but no longer new – medical school.
That journey began officially on 29 October 2010 when two of the world’ greatest universities embarked on a long-term partnership to develop the LKCMedicine MBBS programme. Developed as a true collaboration to meet Singapore’s growing and changing medical manpower needs, NTU and Imperial created a joint programme where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The curriculum developers were led by the vision to train graduates ready for any medical career, from family medicine to surgery and medical research; who would be familiar with both hospital and community practice; and for whom patient-centred care is central to their practice. They would have excellent communication, team-working and critical thinking skills; be comfortable incorporating new technologies into their practice; and have the resilience and leadership to manage change in a rapidly evolving healthcare environment.
In London, a team of medical educators based in the London Office of LKCMedicine worked closely with faculty from across Imperial to identify the most successful elements of the Imperial curriculum, suitable for adaptation and delivery in Singapore. Meanwhile in Singapore, a highly committed team was established including experienced clinician educators from the National Healthcare Group, renowned for their medical expertise and teaching excellence.
Keen to leverage the strengths of NTU, the team engaged faculty across the campus. This was a truly international partnership at work.
We took stock of the latest international practices and innovations in medical education, including Team-Based Learning (TBL), early patient experience, use of simulation and inter-professional learning. Mobile technology would be seamlessly embedded into all aspects of the learning experience, and within the classroom, learning would be supported by the latest interactive technology and classroom design.
In keeping with this student-centred approach, we committed to ensuring a strong culture of student support and engagement, exemplified by our House System.
When LKCMedicine welcomed its pioneer cohort of 54 students in August 2013, the five-year curriculum had been designed and the first year developed in full. TBL, whilst implemented across all five years of the curriculum, is particularly emphasised in Years 1 and 2, completely replacing lectures.
From the start of Year 1, students have important exposure to the healthcare environment, including hospital and polyclinic week and regular sessions learning communication and clinical skills. Furthermore, the Long-Term Patient Project gives students insights into healthcare and illness from the patient’s perspective.
Since 2013, each year has been accompanied not only by a new year of the curriculum delivered for the first time, but also new campus and classroom developments that have enhanced our students’ learning. In 2014, the Toh Kian Chui Annex of the HQ Building at the Novena Campus was opened.
In 2015, the Experimental Medicine Building was launched, incorporating a TBL Learning Studio, with every aspect of the classroom designed to support and enhance our pedagogy. It was also the year that our inaugural cohort entered Year 3, and successfully completed their first fully immersive year of clinical training; while the Year 2 students embarked on the first Imperial-LKCMedicine student exchange, a highly successful initiative giving students the opportunity to experience education and campus life at their sister school.
Last year, the Clinical Sciences Building began operations, equipped with comprehensive state-of-the-art facilities for TBL, a Centre for Clinical Simulation, an Anatomy Learning Centre and superb library facilities.
With the campus completed and MBBS programme fully mapped, Imperial with the participation of NTU and external experts from Singapore and the UK led a comprehensive review of the programme as part of the universities’ quality assurance process. Following their review, the panel expressed full confidence in the quality of the programme and even commended the School on several features of good practice. Among them are our innovative development and use of TBL, strong culture of peer learning, and outstanding facilities to name a few.
Since the start of LKCMedicine’s journey in 2010, remarkable progress has been made in developing a new bespoke curriculum with a distinctive pedagogy, assembling a large team of educators and administrative staff, working with clinical partner institutions, building state-of-the-art physical facilities and recruiting outstanding students, who have performed admirably during the course.
We often refer to LKCMedicine as having two proud parents with high expectations. With our high-calibre medical educators, these expectations are met every step of the way and our students are in the very best hands.