News: Donning their white coats, new medical students pledge to be good doctors

By Sarah Zulkifli, Science Writer, Communications & Outreach

On 16 August, LKCMedicine held its much-anticipated White Coat Ceremony welcoming its 10th cohort of 168 students at the grand Nanyang Auditorium over at NTU’s main campus in Jurong. And with that, the newly-matriculated students began their exciting journey into the medical profession. 

With safe management measures eased, the School was able to resume the in-person ceremony that saw a strong turnout by the students and their parents, presided over by Guest-of-Honour NTU President and Distinguished University Professor Subra Suresh, and hosted by the Dean of LKCMedicine, also NTU Senior Vice-President for Health and Life Sciences and Distinguished University Professor Joseph Sung. The students were grouped in their respective Houses with masks on throughout the event waiting patiently to go onstage for the conferment of their white coats. The past two years’ ceremonies had seen less ceremonial splendour due to COVID-19, with family members only able to watch virtually, a much toned down event.

The ceremony today started with Prof Suresh giving his keynote speech. He recalled with pride when his daughter took her first steps in medicine in the US some years ago. “I share the deep sense of pride and gratitude that you have as you see your children embarking on their medical school journey,” he told the parents.


NTU President Professor Subra Suresh gave his keynote speech

To the students, he reminded them of the challenging journey ahead. “You are embarking on your medical education at a truly exciting and challenging juncture in human history. We live in an increasingly complex and competitive world, one that is rapidly changing due to new and disruptive technologies. The world you are inheriting is one in which medicine, science and technology will play an increasing central role. In addition to the lingering global pandemic, the world is facing global conflicts and wars, mass migrations, and a worsening climate crisis widening inequality in our global society including inequality in access to routine and specialised medical care - particularly for the most vulnerable,” he said.

Nonetheless, he added that LKCMedicine is well equipped to nurture them into good doctors. “Last year, LKCMedicine became the first medical school in Singapore and the fourth in Asia to receive the internationally acclaimed ASPIRE award, in recognition of our innovation and excellence in MBBS curriculum development. The School also received a merit award for student engagement. In just 10 years, we are ranked among the top 100 medical schools in the world. This is a remarkable achievement for a young medical school.”

Prof Sung then took to the stage next to announce the conferment of the white coat.

In his address to the new students, Professor Sung asked what makes a good doctor. He said, “A part of this answer lies in the Declaration of a New Medical Student that you will be making later. When you recite the declaration, you take an oath to dedicate yourself to a cause, and promise to be a good doctor. In the declaration, you promise to the best of your ability to serve humanity, care for the sick, prevent disease, promote good health, and alleviate pain and suffering. This is the most important part of the declaration; therefore, it is scripted right at the beginning of the declaration.” 

“You will be making a commitment to care for your patients. Besides relieving their pain, suffering, and anxieties, you also commit yourselves to respect your patient, treat him or her as a person and not a case or a disease,” he added.

LKCMedicine Dean Professor Joseph Sung announced the conferment of the white coat

LKCMedicine students donned their white coats

Following Prof Sung’s address, the students were conferred their white coats according to the five Houses they belong to, by Prof Sung, Assistant Deans for the different years and House Tutors. As LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Clinical Affairs Professor Pang Weng Sun and Vice-Dean for Education Professor Jennifer Cleland announced the names of the students from the respective Houses, they went onstage to don their white coats and pose for group photos.

Vice-Dean for Clinical Affairs Professor Pang Weng Sun announced the names of the students from the respective Houses

Vice-Dean for Education Professor Jennifer Cleland led the recitation of the Declaration of a New Medical Student

With their white coats smartly donned, the students recited the Declaration of a New Medical Student led by Professor Jennifer Cleland. The declaration reflects a binding commitment to patients as well as a doctor’s professional ethics and tradition, based upon sound scientific knowledge combined with patient-centred care.

LKCMedicine Class of 2027 recited Declaration of a New Medical Student

Another highlight of the White Coat Ceremony was a poem recitation by students. This year, the selected poem titled “A Good Doctor Never Cries” was written by Year 3 student Sandra Lau Hui Min, and recited by Year 3 students Aidan Cheng Kay Jan and Nicole Lim Yi Xin.

LKCMedicine Year 3 students Aidan Cheng Kay Jan and Nicole Lim Yi Xin reciting a poem 

The poem reminded the young students that in the name of professionalism, they may be tempted to will themselves to become invulnerable to the very emotions that drive the heart of medicine. However, by acknowledging their humanity, they can show genuine compassion to their patients, colleagues, and ultimately themselves as professionalism does not have to come at the expense of compassion. It is in having both that they may become good doctors. 

The ceremony ended with a closing address by Special Guest Associate Professor Tan Tze Lee, President, College of Family Physicians Singapore.

Special Guest Associate Professor Tan Tze Lee, President, College of Family Physicians Singapore gave his closing speech 

In his speech, he said, “Your professional journey starts today. During this journey, you gain knowledge from the excellent curriculum from teachers. It is not just knowledge you acquired. This is an apprenticeship where you will acquire special skills, ethical and professional values. It starts today as you enter these great halls of medical knowledge.

As new medical students – the declaration you have just made – it affirms your professional responsibilities as you don your white coats and commences your commitment to put your patients first.”

He added, “Remember also to honour your family who are giving you all the love and support so that you can perform to the best of your abilities, both in medical school and in the future, as medical professionals. When you graduate, do not take this love for granted. Always keep your loved ones close to your heart. Finally, remember your patients. They are the reason we exist as doctors, and for us to be able to see them as their doctors is truly a great privilege.”

After the formal ceremony, guests proceeded to a reception during which the students reunited with their families for another round of congratulations, and more photo-taking to capture the momentous occasion. Student Clarice Lim Yin Jie said, “I’m proud to be in a position to care for and alleviate the sufferings of others and this is truly a privilege that comes with heavy responsibilities.”

Joy Loke Jian Huan, a scholarship recipient who received offers from more than one medical school, said, “What drew me to LKCMedicine is how close-knit and vibrant the School is. Even at the Open House, the faculty and seniors were extremely forthcoming with their sharing, making us feel welcome and quelling our anxieties.”

While the pandemic has posed challenges for doctors, student Jegan Nicco s/o Mogan feels he is all ready for it. “As scary and intimidating COVID-19 is, I feel motivated to play a part in serving the community during such tough times.”

This year, among the Class of 2027 is a polytechnic graduate, student Nigel Lee Shao Bin. The Temasek Polytechnic alumnus had a taste of what it would be like to work in the healthcare industry before applying to medical school. He shared, “My experience as a COVID-19 swabber was an invaluable one. Seeing the gratitude on the faces of patients and hearing their words of thanks were enough to keep me going.” Like the rest of his classmates, he is very much looking forward to the journey ahead.

LKCMedicine Class of 2027


Welcome to the OneNTU community, Class of 2027!