Published on: 17-Aug-2017
Diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease (a rare childhood autoimmune disease) at the tender age of three, Kevin Chan was rushed to hospital and immediately put on treatment. But instead of making him better, it triggered an allergic reaction, turning Kevin's body a frightful purple. Without treatment, Kevin was left at risk of serious cardiac complications.
Thankfully, with the excellent management of his paediatrician and a team of dedicated nurses, Kevin gradually recovered. After two years, Kevin was given a clean bill of health.
"The paediatrician's competence saved my life. I look up to him as my role model as I embark on my studies and later, career in medicine," said Kevin, now 19, who recently graduated from Hwa Chong Institution.
The experience of seeing his grandfather's struggle with cancer served as further confirmation that medicine was his calling. Following major surgery to treat oesophageal cancer, Kevin's grandfather was just taking his first steps along the road to recovery, when his condition took a turn for the worse.
"This was one of the episodes which highlighted to me that despite technological advances in medical science, there is much to be done. I want to be able to play a part in it," said Kevin.
These experiences have spurred Kevin on to enrol at LKCMedicine, taking his first step towards discovering answers to seemingly unsolvable questions – like cancer and Kawasaki disease.
Joining Kevin in LKCMedicine's fifth cohort is Emma Pereira, whose inspiration to study medicine was sparked by the heart-rending experience of working with the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam whom she met during an Overseas Community Involvement Project. Emma was struck by the resilience of the villagers, many of whom live with severe birth deformities, nervous system disorders and other disabilities. This experience left a deep impression and made her realise how simple acts of compassion can break down barriers and touch lives in inestimable ways.
"It was then that I started to develop a joy of helping others," said Emma. "Gradually, I developed a burning passion for reaching out to the less fortunate, and it became instinctive for me to step forward to help those in need."
With a strong sense of altruism blazing within her, the 19-year-old Temasek Junior College graduate recognised that medicine was the career for her.
For her classmate Nur Nadirah Lim, it was a hospital internship that ignited her interest in medicine. The Raffles Institution alumnus had the chance to witness a natural birth when she was attached to an Obstetrics and Gynaecology clinic. Deeply moved by the amount of trust patients place in their doctors, Nadirah believes doctors provide more than just medicine.
"I aspire to be a source of hope and a pillar of trust for patients," said Nadirah Lim.
During the ice breaker games, Nadirah has fun getting to know her new classmates
Innovative curriculum a big draw
These students stood out from among the more than 1,000 applicants who competed for a place in LKCMedicine's Class of 2022. To many of them, LKCMedicine's flipped classroom model and Team-Based Learning (TBL), which offer students greater flexibility in planning their learning, are what attracted them to the School.
Singapore Armed Forces scholarship recipient Hannah Abbott was one of the students drawn to TBL's collaborative learning. The former Anglo-Chinese School Independent (ACSI) student said, "I believe that I will be able to learn better when my classmates and I share our different perspectives in class."
Sitting in the 'control room', Hannah and her House mates work through a series of puzzles to win points
Another aspect that is a big hit for the incoming students is the School's focus on fostering the softer skills. That is why Nanyang Scholarship recipient Wang Kaiying chose LKCMedicine out of her five offers to study medicine. Having volunteered at the Institute of Mental Health and TOUCH Young Arrows, Kaiying has learnt the importance of the personal touch and found meaningful interaction with the ill and less privileged.
Wang Kaiying said, "Through the curriculum, we will be trained in critical thinking, building rapport with and explaining the diagnosis to patients, which are important skills."
Apart from early patient contact, which starts in the first few weeks of medical school, LKCMedicine also offers its students opportunities to practise their communication skills throughout the five years of the curriculum, so that they can develop their competency and reflect on their practice as they progress through the course. Fareed Muhammed bin Noorul Amin Alawdeen, who is also from ACSI, is one of the students who is looking forward to developing excellent doctor-patient communication skills. "Through early clinical exposure, we will also learn to connect theory with practice," said Fareed.
It is no wonder that with the rigorous curriculum that medical schools are known for, many students are attracted to the tight-knit community and support system that LKCMedicine offers. "I felt the warmth of the student body and the faculty members at the Open House and was attracted to the family-like community," said Kaiying.
Hard work pays off
All fired up to start a new chapter in their lives, the students have worked hard to pass the competitive and stringent criteria to enter medical school. However, their journey has not always been smooth sailing.
So determined that medicine was right for him, Raffles Institution alumnus Henry Neo went more than an extra mile in his preparations for LKCMedicine's Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMIs). To help him ace the MMIs, Henry sought the guidance of his friend's father, a family physician who interacts with patients day-to-day. Under his tutelage, Henry spent weekends honing his communication skills and practising how best to advise patients by going through endless rounds of role-play. As part of his preparations, Henry also studied the major health issues facing Singapore and the measures taken to tackle them.
Henry (centre) and his fellow Lim Boon Keng freshies strike a pose before going back to tackling puzzles for points on the first day of orientation
"As I read up on illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, I thought of my friends and family members who are plagued by these. I felt a strong sense of purpose to contribute to tackling these diseases," he said. "Preparing for the MMI further motivated me to study medicine."
Much to Henry's joy, his diligence paid off when he was offered a place in LKCMedicine's fifth cohort. Henry's hard work taught him an important lesson – that while one can have high ambitions, one should also remain pragmatic and be willing to work hard.
Ambitions for the future
With his feet planted firmly on the ground, Henry said, "As I step onto this path ahead, I hope to remain steadfast in the principle that practising medicine is about making a personal difference in every patient's life.
His batchmate Chung Ray Ern, a violinist and concert master in the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, believes that medicine "heals not just the body but also the soul." Adept at both the arts and sciences, Ray Ern hopes to combine both disciplines when he enters the medical world, and go beyond just treating the flesh, to also caring for his patients' emotional wellbeing.
These words resonate with his fellow classmate Hannah's aspirations. She hopes to become a doctor who makes a difference to each patient's life, no matter how small it may be.
With the new academic year seeing not only fresh faces but also bright aspirations, the common desire to help others is what unites the Class of 2022 as they begin their journey at LKCMedicine.
And with this incoming cohort, this young medical school has now come full circle – five cohorts are enrolled, making the School fully subscribed. Here's to more milestones and exciting times ahead!
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