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First NTU doctors out on hospital rounds

NTU’s newly minted junior doctors take time out of their gruelling 30-hour shifts to talk about their first days on the job
by Peter Yeo

Charmaine Lee, 24

Specialisation goals: In two minds over anaesthesiology and emergency medicine

Current medical posting: Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Stepping out into the real world of medicine is as exciting as it is scary. I am thankful for the support a small cohort and team-based learning groups offer. When we were doing medical placements, we would meet up regularly in school to share problems and ideas on how to cope. If I get a chance to do it all again, I’d get even more exposure as a student. I was already fortunate enough to have electives in a regional hospital and a big hospital in London with many subspecialties, but more experience would be advantageous. I also liked getting to meet medical students from all over the world and comparing their learning journeys with mine.

Lavisha S Punjabi, 24

Specialisation goals: Keen to pursue a general specialty to keep herself challenged through her career

Current medical posting: Obstetrics & Gynaecology at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital

The five years in school have allowed me to be eclectic in my pursuit of magic and meaning. In “meaning”, I was privileged to engage with students and public health leaders across the Asia-Pacific for the Asian Medical Students’ Association as the liaison officer to the World Health Organisation. I also look back fondly upon my final-year electives, which started with learning women's and perinatal pathology at a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston, and ended with appreciating public health challenges on rounds with a mobile clinic in rural Vellore, India. In “magic”, the school supported my creative expression and growth as a writer through medical essays, forum letters and now, poetry. These experiences have taught me to be sensitive and adaptable to diversity, preparing me for the challenges of rotating across different teams and departments as a house officer.

Brenton Sio, 27

Specialisation goals: General surgery

Current medical posting: Orthopaedic Surgery at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

The biggest challenge in my learning journey has been reconciling what I learnt in books with real life. I constantly needed to update what I thought I’d understood from our readings. Even today, it is necessary to always update our medical knowledge. Know that you will never learn enough. There’s always something to improve on every day. If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself at my White Coat Ceremony five years ago to always be eager and put my best food forward in my daily work and expect the unexpected.

Stewart Retnam, 25

Specialisation goals: Undecided

Current medical posting: Orthopaedic Surgery at Singapore General Hospital

Graduating from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine has been an exciting experience as we are put to the test after being the first to go through the school's curriculum. Thankfully, I feel our training has prepared us adequately enough to perform well and live up to the expectations of our colleagues. The one thing that has remained with me since medical school is the importance of good communication with our patients, which forms the bedrock of a solid doctor-patient relationship. I am glad that this was emphasised in medical school through various pedagogical methods (from mock consultations to guided reflection and peer feedback) that gave us the necessary skills to communicate well and thrive as junior doctors where a good part of our job involves speaking to patients and their families.

Delwyn Lim, 25

Specialisation goals: Internal medicine

Current medical posting: General Surgery at Tan Tock Seng Hospital

It is an honour to be among NTU’s pioneer batch of medical students, but along with the pride comes pressure when all eyes are on us when we start our rounds. Thankfully, the student assistantship programme provided more than a teaser of what was to come and prepared me for the practicalities of housemanship. Communicating well with patients is one of the challenges doctors have to face and I’m glad for the simulated patient interactions we’ve had since our first year in med school. It’s certainly helped my confidence in handling difficult situations such as dealing with angry families, breaking bad news and communicating with colleagues.

Toh Ching Han, 24

Specialisation goals: Interested in emergency medicine or specialties that let her work as a generalist

Current medical posting: Singapore General Hospital

My biggest takeaway from NTU’s medicine programme is seeing just how privileged we are to be in the medical profession. As doctors, we have access to information not shared by patients with anyone else, and what you do with it can make a world of difference. As medical students, we saw many disadvantaged patients who required help from different stakeholders in healthcare. It was inspiring to see the medical community come together to help them.