August 2018 | Issue 37
Class of 2023: having a heart for medicine
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By Sean Firoz, Assistant Manager, Communications & External Relations

Feeling lost and dejected, national shuttler Grace Chua was afraid she would never be able to compete again after her sports doctor had advised her to withdraw from an upcoming badminton competition following an injury sustained during a training session. For an athlete who had decided to put studies temporarily on hold to concentrate on sports, Grace had naturally imagined the worst. 

“The doctor, being a sportswoman herself, was able to empathise with me and came up with a recovery programme instead,” said Grace, a graduate of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), who continues to compete in badminton competitions both locally and regionally. “This inspired me to apply for medicine, so that I can contribute to the betterment of others’ lives,” said Grace.

For Leo Wen Zhe, he came face to face with myriad medical problems – from cancer to mental illness – which afflicted his family and relatives when he was younger. Wen Zhe found himself visiting different hospitals and clinics, observing the many doctors who helped him and his loved ones through thick and thin.

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“All in all, it’s a family affair which inspired me to get into this course,” said Wen Zhe, a Raffles Institution graduate and Toh Kian Chui scholar. “I know that it’s not easy to be a doctor, but I still ultimately remain steadfast in pursuing this career path.”

Looking back at these ordeals, Grace and Wen Zhe were surprised by the sheer amount of empathy and compassion the doctors they met had when treating the patients under their care. Aspiring to be doctors who care for their patients as much as the ones that touched their hearts, Grace and Wen Zhe applied to LKCMedicine, and soon joined their other classmates in the Class of 2023.

Stepping up to the plate

More than 850 applicants vied for a spot in the sixth cohort of LKCMedicine, and 138 students were finally enrolled to form the Class of 2023. Excited to be starting their LKCMedicine journey, the freshmen look forward to learn, and gain exposure and valuable experience from the faculty and seniors in the School. 

“University will be a huge jump from junior college, and I look forward to adapting to these changes, meeting new people and living independently on campus!” said fellow Raffles Institution graduate Angeline Aw. 

Before starting on their MBBS journey, the students got a glimpse of what it is like to study in LKCMedicine through the School’s outreach programmes, such as the annual LKCMedicine School Talks and High Tea sessions. Many of the students were drawn to the practice of Team-Based Learning (TBL) here, which promotes a more hands-on approach to learning medicine. Other pull factors include the unique Imperial connection that LKCMedicine has and early exposure to patients.

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“Alongside a strong emphasis on patient-centred healthcare, LKCMedicine showcased its dedication in nurturing doctors who care intelligently and compassionately for patients, making the School a natural choice for me,” said Brjan Betzler, a graduate from Raffles Institution who was awarded the Nanyang Scholarship.

Not only do they look forward to attending classes, the students also anticipate many school-related activities and new traditions in LKCMedicine. One annual affair is the Freshmen Orientation Camp, IntroDOCtion, where freshmen and seniors get to know each other. This year’s camp titled Coelestia, which is Latin for beings who strive for the stars, is a one-week camp filled with fun activities, learning experiences and new friendships. Another tradition that the students are looking forward to is the White Coat Ceremony, taking place on 15 August in NTU. At this auspicious event, the aspiring doctors are conferred their white coat and then led to recite the Declaration of a New Medical Student, promising to practise medicine with integrity, humility and compassion.

Anglo-Chinese Junior College graduate Muhammad Danish bin Massuryono said, “It’s been my dream to don the white coat and start my journey into medicine. I was counting down the days to when that dream becomes a reality.”

Getting out in the field

To be a doctor, one must have compassion to listen to the patients, and making their recovery journey to complete health with as much support as the doctor can muster. That is why many of the incoming cohort went on volunteering missions and attachments to see what the medical field is like out there.

Before applying for medical school, Hwa Chong Institution graduate Calvin Chen spent his free time volunteering at Jurong GRC, where he helped out at healthcare-related events such as Project Big Heart. 

“At these events, I had the chance to work with people from all walks of life, from doctors and nurses to executives of healthcare institutions. Many of the residents who turned up for the events shared their anxieties and were relieved to receive medical attention and advice for direct treatment in the future. It reminded me of the hope that medicine inspires, a hope my family and I had benefitted from,” said Calvin.

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Priyenka Vijay Anand, a graduate from Raffles Institution, also volunteered at welfare organisations and charities such as the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and the Red Cross Home for the Disabled. Her first-hand experiences in these institutions, from time spent with the patrons, strengthened her resolve to positively impact the lives around her.

These experiences certainly humbled the incoming students, giving them insight into the workings of hospitals and voluntary welfare organisations and the impact they have. This further cemented their aspiration to become doctors.

“Such experiences have led me to be deeply drawn to the nature of medicine – that it can transform knowledge into hope for all,” added Calvin.

Dreaming big

While the School’s inaugural cohort has graduated on 24 July and continue their Postgraduate Year 1, life as medical students continues for the rest of the cohorts in LKCMedicine. Aspirations remain big for the incoming Class of 2023, looking towards bettering society in their capacity as future doctors.

For some students, like Brjan, the dream of becoming a doctor goes beyond the borders of Singapore. “Having witnessed the aid that volunteer doctors can provide in Nepal, I want to continue contributing to medical missions as a trained doctor after graduation,” he said.

Others look forward to a work-life balance that benefits both their patients and their loved ones. “I want to be a doctor who, despite a busy schedule, is still able to be there for my family and friends through their ups and downs, highs and lows, triumphs and failures,” said Wen Zhe. 

Whether it be to serve a greater good or to look after the health of generations of Singaporean families, the dream to be doctors who are professional, humble and compassionate is one that every LKCMedicine student aspires to. We look forward to watching over this new batch as they grow and become the doctors they deserve to be. 

As Angeline aptly puts it, “The journey ahead will be a long and difficult one, but I hope that I will always remember why I wanted to pursue medicine and to always place my patients at the heart of all that I do.”

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