Profile: Associate Professor Wong Wei Chin, Assistant Dean for Year 4: What makes a good doctor

LKCMedicine Associate Professor Wong Wei ChinLKCMedicine speaks with Associate Professor Wong Wei Chin, newly-appointed Assistant Dean for Year 4, on her expectations from students and them becoming good doctors.

Q: What can Year 4 students look forward to come this new academic year?
Year 4 will be an exciting one for our students. They will continue to develop their knowledge and skills and build on what they have learnt in the first three years of medical school. They will learn to care for people with different needs such as expectant mothers, babies, young children and older adults. They will also learn to care for people with life-limiting illnesses, mental health challenges and those in need of rehabilitation following an acute illness. In Year 4, students will also experience how medical care is delivered in different healthcare settings such as the emergency department, critical care unit and primary care setting. 

Q: With the pandemic changing the way we teach, what advice do you have for our students to be better prepared?
The pandemic has increased the use of technology in our teaching. Zoom tutorials are now ubiquitous. While online teaching has helped minimise interruptions to students’ training, bedside clinical training however remains an integral part. The requirements for safe management measures during the pandemic mean that there will be restrictions in the clinical setting in terms of where students can and cannot go, and the number of students that can be present at any one time. My advice to students is seize every opportunity they have in the clinical setting to interact with patients because we cannot be certain how the pandemic will unfold, what surprises it will spring on us and when bedside clinical training will be interrupted. I would advise the Year 4s to learn not only about the science behind the illnesses affecting the patients that they are seeing but also about the patients with the illnesses.

Q: Why did you decide to take on the challenge of being the Year 4 Assistant Dean?
I have been involved in teaching medical students for many years now and was the Lead for Geriatric Medicine at LKCMedicine prior to my current appointment. I hope that as Year 4 Assistant Dean, I can contribute more to the students’ medical school experience and training. 

Q: What would you like our students to know about you or your teaching style?
I am not a fan of didactic teaching and I do not believe in spoon feeding. Medicine is complex and no two patients are the same. Hence, it is important that students develop deep understanding of the subject that they are learning and understand the impact of illnesses on the individual patient. I always encourage students to consider the whys: for example why is the answer to a question ‘A’ and not ‘B’ or ‘C’ or why do we manage a patient one way and another patient with the same diagnosis another way. 

Q: Finally, what advice would you give to your students on coping with medical school and what should be the guiding principle to be a good doctor? 
There is no doubt that medical school training can be stressful. There is so much to learn and not enough time. Navigating the real-life clinical setting during the clinical years, where everyone seems to be so busy, can sometimes be challenging. When under stress, it is helpful to take a step back and recall why you chose to study medicine and why you wanted to be a doctor in the first place. While it is important for our students to study and work hard, it is also equally important that they find time to take care of themselves and watch out for one another. To be a good doctor, one needs to be competent and have the necessary knowledge and skills. Beyond that, a good doctor must also be able to empathise with patients and show proper care and concern for them.