Feature
Doc in training
Fifty-four outstanding students selected from 800 top applicants began their five-year medical programme as the pioneer cohort at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in August. Doctor-in-training Eden Tay shares snapshots of his life so far at NTU with Christopher Ong

Digital cuts: We are the first medical students in Southeast Asia to do virtual dissection on a digital table that lets us get safely under the skin of patients.

 

LEARNING ON THE GO 

My bus ride to class gives me a chance to review the day’s lesson on my iPad, which contains everything from e-lectures to school timetables and interactive e-learning apps. The iPad is easier to carry around compared to traditional books and notes, and is definitely more engaging.

 

Teaching materials, including over 200 e-lectures developed with Imperial College London, are just a few swipes away.

 

THE HUMAN BODY 101
My first lesson of the day is held in one of the technology-rich classrooms at the school. Here, Prof Michael Ferenczi dives straight into the intricacies of enzyme kinetics, or the study of chemical reactions caused by enzymes. Sitting in clusters that encourage interaction, my course mates and I spend the remaining time discussing the topic. I like the school’s approach of giving us time to solve problems on our own instead of cramming us with facts. 

 

Prof Ferenczi, a molecular medicine expert, on enzyme kinetics. As first-year medical students, we are required to have some basic understanding of biochemistry.

 

Before starting school, I had read about the Anatomage Table in the news and was excited by the huge iPad-like device. It’s really fun to use and allows us to explore the human body with just a few pinches and swipes. We can rotate cross-sections of the virtual body to get a better view of the organ or part we want to study. It even allows us to remove whole layers of the body at a time.

 

Removing the “skin”, for example, I can see the “muscle” underneath. I can’t wait to perform my first virtual dissection…

 

This will be my regular cluster for the next year or so. My group has a wide range of characters, from super-smart to perfectionist types, so our discussions can get quite interesting.

 

WHAT’S UP, DOC?
We meet up with Dr Chia Yew Woon at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Dr Chia is one of our mentors at the hospital, where some of our learning will take place. I’ll never forget his words: “Always try to understand the patients, including their thoughts, fears and other emotions.”

 

Caring mentor: Dr Chia encouraging us to be both competent professionals and doctors whom patients can relate to.

 

Joining the nurses on their ward rounds, my schoolmates and I assist patients with simple tasks like changing their clothes and bed sheets, feeding them and cleaning up after them. As I do all these, I try to keep Dr Chia’s advice in mind. I notice an elderly man in a lot of pain from a catheter being inserted, and hold his hand to reassure him. It helps that I’m able to communicate with him in his dialect, Teochew, and tell him not to be scared.

 

His grateful smile makes all my effort worthwhile.

 

I was picked by the senior nurse to roleplay a patient suffering a heart attack. The “medical procedures” administered were rather overwhelming, and this showed me the importance of having a caring doctor who can allay our fears.  

 

MORE BODILY PURSUITS
We are given Wednesday afternoons off to pursue our personal interests – mine is water polo. I play the sport competitively and have donned national colours, so it’s crucial for me to keep my skills sharp. Often, like today, I do so by completing intensive swim sets and drills at NTU’s Sports & Recreation Centre.

 

Practising water polo drills with my friends. I’m a member of NTU’s water polo team and the only one studying medicine.

 

Both water polo and medicine require plenty of dedication and sacrifice to be good at. I’m hoping the self-discipline that playing the sport instilled in me will come in handy now that I’m a medical student!

 

Getting a good workout also keeps my mind clear.

 

HOUSE GAMES  
After lunch, it’s back to the Sports & Recreation Centre for the inter-House games. I’m the captain of Wu Lien-Teh House, one of five “Houses” named after medical luminaries, and act as a bridge between my House, House-mates and House tutors. Luckily for me, my House-mates are awesome and make my job a simple one.

 

My role today is straightforward – get my team psyched up for our game of Captain’s Ball!

 

HALL YOU DOING?
As another packed but fulfilling day at medical school ends, I’m glad to return to the home comforts of Hall 16, where I share a room with Marcel Leon Scully. We often study together but sometimes unwind with a game of night soccer or tennis! It’s great that as fellow medical students we have the same schedule and can discuss everything from school to girls, to the kind of doctor we would like to be in future. I hope to practise paediatric oncology – the treatment of cancer in children and young adults – after I graduate.

 

PHOTOS: SUFIAN BIN SUDERMAN, EDEN TAY