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Feature

NTU’s second campus at Novena

With its brand-new Clinical Sciences Building, NTU is now at the heart of Health City Novena, Singapore’s new modern healthcare hub. Derek Rodriguez and Amin Shah discover that the prescription for the holistic training of medical students entails everything from realistic hospital settings to snug recreational rooms that inspire creativity

Medical drama

Get your pulses racing with this quick tour of the Clinical Sciences Building, NTU’s newest facility for its Medicine students.

All you need is patients

NTU medical students in white coats and scrubs at the simulated ward at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campus PHOTO: MARTIN T

Almost exact replicas of hospital spaces, the simulated ward and consultation rooms are where actors challenge students in various doctor-patient scenarios, giving them realistic training in what it means to put patients first.

When the simulated ward is configured as a hospital ward, students perform basic diagnostics and learn how to interact with patients. When transformed into an intensive care unit or an accident and emergency ward, the doctors-in-training get attuned to making quick and accurate medical decisions.

The practical skills laboratory is another authentic clinical setting. Here, students practise skills from drawing blood to suturing on simulated patients fitted with prosthetic wounds.

Says second-year student Beverley Lim: “Practising with simulated patients puts what we have learnt in class in context. It also gives us valuable bedside experience.”

Laughter is the best medicine

NTU students jamming in the music room at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campusPHOTO: DANIEL HO

Students can take a chill pill between classes at the student lounge, and wash it down with drinks and snacks from the fully stocked pantry. It’s easy to build new friendships over pool, foosball or board games here too. Right next door, jamming with friends in the soundproof music room is the ideal destress band-aid.

Says second-year student Muhammad Fadzil bin Kamarudin, who plays the drums and guitar as his relaxation therapy: “I can work hard and play hard here. Everything from the seminar rooms to the labs to the music room is under one roof.”

Couch doctors

NTU students socialising in a house room at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campusPHOTO: DANIEL HO

Medical students are placed into five different houses, much like the students of Hogwarts. Through regular house meetings, students are able to forge new friendships from their freshman year and find mentors easily.

Each house is given a room that the students have furnished to their taste. The spacious pads have become homely places to rest in between classes, with downtime gear like large-screen televisions, massage chairs and console games.

“The house rooms are really versatile. Some of us use them to gather for meetings, or just to hang out with friends. Some of us study there, and others – like me – use them to take naps during lunchtime,” says Sophia Wong, who is in her third year of medical school.

Some students were even spotted playing Mahjong after class. A study on how to keep dementia at bay perhaps?

No altitude sickness

Occupying the penthouse level on the 20th floor of the Clinical Sciences Building is the medical school’s library. With its eclectic collection of medical tomes and breath-taking views of the city, the library is a popular spot.

NTU students reading in the library at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campusPHOTO: MARTIN T

Cosy couches and floor-to-ceiling windows create perfect study nooks, and discussion rooms are designed for group projects.

“The medical library is definitely my favourite place here,” says fourth-year Medicine undergrad Leon Tan. “It has majestic views of the Singapore skyline, including the city centre, and great study corners to soak in the sights from.”

NTU students from other disciplines are free to visit too. Those interested in interdisciplinary studies can find their niche and grab a title from the medical humanities and medical art print sections.

Inspiring touches of creativity can be found around the library’s spacious interior, such as furniture and sculptures with wood from trees that were once part of the NTU campus. It has a casual feel, with low bookshelves doubling up as chairs, where students can get comfy and reflect on what they have learnt.

In the pink of health

NTU students exercising in the gym at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campusPHOTO: DANIEL HO

As doctors-to-be, NTU’s medical students must know the importance of keeping a healthy mind and body. The indoor gym is no run-of-the-mill centre with its row of treadmills facing a panoramic view of the surroundings.

With full shower facilities and modern equipment, and a dance studio on the eighth floor, this lifestyle area includes a student lounge and a music room.

“It’s awesome that we have spaces like these to relax in and pursue our other passions beyond medicine,” says Yap Hong Wei, a second-year student and an avid dancer who is in NTU’s hip hop dance club.

Medical innovations in the making

Asst Prof Yusuf Alu and an NTU medical student in white coats and scrubs at a laboratory in the Clinical Sciences BuildingPHOTO: LESTER KOK

NTU is known for its biomedical innovations and with a new medical school, there will be even more reason for NTU scientists to collaborate and find solutions to healthcare woes.

Fourth-year medical students spend six weeks working alongside clinicians and NTU researchers on research projects spanning themes like medical education, basic research, and clinical and health services outcomes.

Says Asst Prof Yusuf Ali, a leading diabetes researcher: “The facilities here are beyond brick and mortar. The laboratory is filled with natural light in the day and this provides a beautiful ambience conducive to creativity. It’s a very uplifting place to be in as well.”

Medicine in the city

The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine’s Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campusPHOTO: DANIEL HO

The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine is a joint school by NTU and Imperial College London.

The Clinical Sciences Building is the new kid on the block of NTU’s Novena campus. On the ground floor, the entrance plaza is designed to frame the heritage building that houses the headquarters of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

The Experimental Medicine Building on the main NTU campus, which was unveiled in 2015, and the Novena campus form the key part of the dual campus for the medical students, many of whom live in a hall of residence on the main campus. A free shuttle bus brings them between the two campuses.

At the Clinical Sciences Building, the 250-seat circular learning studio is a smart classroom where students, armed with iPads, engage in team-based learning. To facilitate active discussion, they are seated in clusters of five to seven in the learning studio as well as in the three 90-seat seminar rooms. A 500-seat auditorium is equipped to host interactive lectures including mock surgical demonstrations.

A skybridge on the fifth floor links the Clinical Sciences Building directly to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s new blocks, which will be completed in the next few years.

“NTU’s Novena campus is the academic heart of Health City Novena, and the campus creates a symbiosis of education, research and healthcare,” says NTU President Prof Bertil Andersson, the driving force behind Singapore’s youngest medical school.

  • NTU students reading in the library at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campus
    PHOTO: MARTIN T
  • NTU students reading in the library at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campus
    PHOTO: MARTIN T
  • NTU medical students in white coats and scrubs at the simulated wards at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campus
    PHOTO: MARTIN T
  • NTU students dancing in front of a mirror at the dance studio at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campus
    PHOTO: DANIEL HO
  • NTU students playing pool in the student lounge at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campus
    PHOTO: MARTIN T
  • NTU students playing board games in the student lounge at the Clinical Sciences Building in NTU’s Novena campus
    PHOTO: MARTIN T
  • NTU students at a lesson in the circular learning studio at the Clinical Sciences Building in Novena
    PHOTO: LESTER KOK
  • The entrance plaza of the Clinical Sciences Buidling framing the heritage building beside it