By Kimberley Wang, Manager, Media and Publications, Communications and Outreach
Dr Wong Hongjie and Dr Lynn Ong from the Class of 2020 first met as Year 1 medical students and will soon be tying the knot. Hongjie is currently posted to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital while Lynn is at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. Both of them are in the Internal Medicine department.
After COVID-19 disrupted their plans for an overseas photo shoot, they decided to return to the Novena campus to take their pre-wedding photos on 3 March. They chose to capture shots for their special day at the School as it formed a huge part of their shared experience and holds special meaning for them. They are coy about their wedding date, but Hongjie quipped, “You will know when your invite comes!”
Q: How did the both of you meet? What was your first impression of each other?
Hong Jie: For the first few months of medical school, our paths did not cross much as we were in different Team-Based Learning (TBL) teams. We then got to know each other more through various Community Involvement Projects (CIP) and we always thought we could get along easily. I guess we were on each other’s radar but we kept our options open while we got to know the rest of our batch.
One fateful day after our TBL lesson in NTU sometime in December 2015, I saw her waiting at the bus-stop. Knowing that she stays close to me, I pulled up beside her and asked if she wanted a lift home. She politely declined, saying that she was going to grab dinner as her family had other appointments. I immediately replied that I was coincidentally free for dinner and suggested we ate together. (I then promptly and secretly dropped a text to my parents informing something urgent came up and I could not join them at home for dinner.) I chose a quieter place where we could have somewhere to stroll after dinner and so we ended up having our first date at Jack’s Place at Grandstand.
Q: What was it like being in medical school together?
Lynn: While some may prefer to have a partner outside of the medical field, we are really glad that we went through medical school together. We were able to relate to the experiences that we had, to whine about the hardships and to gossip about our classmates. Hong Jie also shared his notes with me which was really great. Not only did we help each other academically, we also provided each other with emotional support through difficult times.
Year by year, we overcame obstacles together and grew from first-year students to Medical Officers now. I remember vividly how we used to study for M1 formatives in the Hive, and who would have known that this very same boy would become the man that I am going to build a home together with. I am happy that he has been there every step of the way.
Q: What were some of your most memorable experiences at the School?
Hong Jie: There are too many wonderful experiences at school to share. But perhaps the most memorable to me was when [LKCMedicine Assistant Dean for Year 5] Associate Professor Tham Kum Ying gathered us in one of the seminar rooms in the Clinical Sciences Building and announced to the class that everybody passed their MBBS. In that split second, I felt an intense gush of emotions. On one hand I felt extremely happy and relieved that we finally made it through the most difficult hurdle of medical school, but on the other, so fearful about what comes next. We were entering the workforce and a long medical career lies ahead.
As we congratulated each other and packed our bags and left the seminar room one by one, it hit me that this was probably one of the last few times we would sit together as a batch before going our separate ways. It was an hour of immense joy and yet, fear and sadness. What was really comforting was that amidst all these changes, moving from one chapter of our lives to the next, there is someone there with me from the beginning and hopefully till the very end.
Q: Looking back, how did you feel about being in the Class of 2020?
Lynn: I remember during our welcome speech in 2015, LKCMedicine Governing Board Chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh mentioned that we were the SG50 batch, and hopefully when we retire 50 years down the road it will be SG100.
Fast forward five years, we were the first batch to graduate into a pandemic right in the midst of circuit breaker. I remember a few days into our Student Internship Programme (SIP), we received a text to immediately stop all work and leave hospital grounds. It was frightening times with many uncertainties, but the School was quick to adapt to the challenging circumstances. We ended up having our SIP modified and had to officially start work one week earlier. We also took the opportunity to construct teaching materials and sessions for our juniors who unfortunately had their postings cancelled as well.
Q: Were there any disruptions to your wedding plans and preparations due to COVID-19?
Hong Jie: We had always planned to have our wedding in 2022 as it was in line with our BTO key collection. On top of the uncertainties that the general population faces, such as changes in national restrictions for weddings and photo shoots, the greatest challenge in my opinion was for Lynn and I to coincide our annual leave dates together in times of manpower crunch.
Each pandemic wave is unpredictable and often annual leave gets cancelled. As the annual leave slots get cut drastically in each department, it becomes very difficult to take annual leave and even more difficult for both of us as doctors to take it together. This is especially frustrating when we planned for events months in advance, like our pre-wedding shoot, and financial penalties are incurred if we have to postpone our appointments.
Q: What made you decide to do part of your wedding photo shoot at LKCMedicine?
Lynn: We would love to have our photoshoot in Sri Lanka, which was where we got together in 2016 during our Project Saukya (Overseas CIP Sri Lanka) trip. Unfortunately, taking overseas leave for healthcare workers is very difficult so we settled on having our photo shoot locally.
LKCMedicine immediately came to mind as it formed a huge part of our shared experiences. Not only does it have a beautiful backdrop, it holds special meaning for the both of us and we will always have stories to share when others browse our wedding album in the future. The Medical Library, especially, was where we spent most our time leading up to our exams. The late nights, the company of friends, the joy and laughter – these were all precious memories that we reminisce about and hope to document into our life journey.
Congratulations Hongjie and Lynn, on your upcoming nuptials!