Published on 28 March 2024

Final lesson for our Graduating Class of 2024

Professor Joseph Sung
Dean, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


[delivered at the MBBS Wrap Up day on 28 March 2024]

"Dear Class of 2024, today marks a significant milestone in your journey – one that is not only a testament to your years of hard work and dedication but also your commitment to the noble profession of medicine. On that note, a very big congratulations to all of you for successfully completing the final stage of our robust MBBS programme. As we gather here to commemorate your achievement, I am filled with immense pride and admiration for every one of you. Throughout your five years of rigorous training at LKCMedicine since 2019, you have demonstrated not only academic excellence but also unwavering compassion, empathy, and resilience – the qualities that embody “doctors you and I would like to have caring for us”.


In the past nine weeks (29 January 2024 – 27 March 2024), you have had the opportunity to peek into your new life as doctors under the LKCMedicine Student Assistantship Programme (SAP). Very soon, you will start your career as junior doctors in hospitals in Singapore! I can imagine your excitement and perhaps also anxiety in starting your hospital posting. But rest assured that the School has trained you well.


As you embark on this next chapter of your journey, allow me to give you “three pieces of gold”. First, be humble as a doctor. As healthcare providers, we are to serve, not to be served. Be humble in your work environment, so that you will learn a lot more from your seniors, nurses and even patients. In my career as a junior MO, patients taught me a lot through their clinical cases, as well as through sharing their feelings as a patient. Nursing staff and other allied health workers can also teach a lot of practical lessons in management of patients, that are not covered in your curriculum. Secondly, be helpful to others, and be collegial. Work and training as junior doctors in hospitals is hard, taxing and daunting. You need to cover and help each other when the burden gets heavy and experience is scant. When you are willing to walk the extra mile with your colleagues in need, you will also get help when you are in need. Remember, it is through collaboration and teamwork that we achieve the greatest success in patient care. Thirdly, I understand that work-life-balance is important. However, if you want to learn more, become more competent, and more skilled, you’ll need to work harder. Back when I was an intern, when word arrived that there was an emergency abdomen situation being admitted to the surgical ward, I stayed after my work hours so that I got to observe and assist in an appendectomy. 

As head of the Department of Medicine and Associate Dean (Clinical) of a large teaching hospital in Hong Kong, I sat on several appointment and promotion boards for many years. We always looked out for doctors who were willing to serve, work as a team player, and keen to learn as trainees and junior consultants. Sometimes, academic merit may not be the deciding factor.


On your last lesson today, I want to encourage you to remain committed to lifelong learning. Medicine is a field that is constantly evolving, and it is paramount that you stay abreast of the latest advancements, technologies, and best practices, just as we have recently enhanced our MBBS curriculum. Seek out mentors, collaborate with colleagues, and never hesitate to ask for help or advice when needed. I would also urge you to come back often to your alma mater. I am sure fond memories have been forged on this campus and over at NTU. LKCMedicine will always be your second home. The Alumni Lounge is available for you to catch up with each other outside the hospital, to unwind and socialise.


In closing, I want to congratulate each and every one of you on reaching this significant milestone. You are not just doctors; I am confident that you will be future leaders and healers of tomorrow. As you go forth into the medical world and beyond, may you continue to embody the values of compassion, integrity, and excellence that have guided you thus far. On behalf of all of us at LKCMedicine, it’s been our privilege to be a part of your journey towards being doctors of tomorrow.


Congratulations once again. The world awaits your healing touch.