Students' Take: Family Medicine Residency Seniors' Sharing

By See Jing Ying and Zhang Pei Ting, Class of 2022

The study of Medicine is a lifelong journey that does not end upon graduation from medical school. Options are almost limitless when it comes to what one might choose to do for their medical career. 

While some students have set their eyes on a particular path early on, others might prefer to take their time to explore before making their decision. 

Regardless, this choice is a very personal one, and this is where student interest groups serve an important role. Not only do they provide students with a platform to interact and learn from doctors already in the field, they also give those who are still exploring and undecided the exposure they need to make an informed choice.

The Family Medicine Student Interest Group recently organised a Family Medicine Residency Senior's Sharing, where we invited LKCMedicine alumni currently in Family Medicine residency across various healthcare clusters to give interested students a glimpse into life as a Family Medicine resident, as well as to have a better understanding of what is expected of one. Four of our LKCMedicine seniors: Dr Daryl Peh (R1), Dr Koh Jin Kiat (R1), Dr Marie Ann Wong (R1) and Dr Gabriel Wong (R2), graciously set aside time from their busy schedules to share their experiences with us.

The sharing was personal and genuine, and gave us many opportunities to reflect on our values and motivations - to consider what is most important to us when deciding on a career path. 

We learnt about what a typical day in the life of a Family Medicine resident is like, the differences between the various residency programmes of sponsoring institutes (i.e. National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, National University Polyclinics and SingHealth Polyclinics), the structure of the residency programmes and postings that residents rotate through, as well as what the process is like in applying for the programme. 

It was heartening to know that residents will be allocated protected hours in the polyclinic each week even as they rotate around their different postings, so that they do not lose touch with running clinics. 

Their opinions on how one can prepare for the Family Medicine Residency application was very practical and relieved our very real uncertainties and concerns surrounding how we might achieve our aspirations as a Family Physician. This included how to build a CV whilst in medical school, which House Officer/Medical Officer postings to take up in preparation for the selection, and what the selection interviews entail.

The night concluded with our speakers sharing their personal motivations in choosing Family Medicine, and the factors that have influenced their decisions. We appreciate it greatly as it served as an inspiration for many who are still in the process of discovering the many avenues through which we can make a positive impact in the lives of our patients. 

All in all, we were left with a deeper appreciation of the enjoyable experiences being a Family Physician can offer, but also more aware of the struggles some can encounter, and these served to shape our understanding of whether Family Medicine is truly the right specialty for us.

We learn from those who have come before us. Students at LKCMedicine have always been inquisitive, and we proactively seek to reach a deeper understanding and appreciation of specialties we are interested in. Through this very enriching and eye-opening sharing, we learnt about the many factors that come into play when making a decision regarding which specialty to choose in the future, and were also better able to appreciate the hard work and training each Family Physician goes through to provide patients with the best care possible. 

By understanding the motivations and reasons our seniors have in choosing Family Medicine as a career, we have realised that Family Medicine goes so much further than just a specialty offering an ideal work-life balance that values breadth over depth. 

We learn that Family Medicine is the anchor of a population's health, a specialty where doctors not only serve to offer health advice, but also play the role of a friend, counsellor, and most importantly, an advocate for their patients. 

This in turn is what makes the lasting impact on a community's well-being both now and in the long run. Words cannot express how grateful we are to our seniors for coming back and availing their precious time to give us these precious gems we could never learn from our books, and look forward to being able to contribute in a similar way in the future.