Profile: Up close with Dr Lucy Victoria Rosby, Assistant Dean for Years 1 & 2


 By Anne Loh, Assistant Director, Communications and Outreach

LKCMedicine’s recently appointed Assistant Dean for Years 1 & 2 talks about her passion for medicine and medical education, the importance of the human touch in healthcare, and plans for her new role.

What inspired you to take the path of medicine? 

My ‘baby’ sister Sophie (pictured below on the right with Lucy), who is five years younger than me, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) when she was just three months old. It is a progressive, recessive, genetic disease which causes an overproduction of mucus in the body, manifesting mostly with lung infections, but it also has an impact on other body systems, such as the digestive system.

Born before babies in certain parts of the world were routinely tested for CF using the heel prick test, and two years after the discovery of the gene mutation that causes it, my parents were told that Sophie “failed to thrive” and suffered from “infantile diarrhoea and asthma”. One day, she turned blue and was rushed to the local paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and my parents were informed that she would probably die in the following few days. They had her baptised that evening.

A PICU nurse who had a daughter with CF recommended to the PICU consultant that Sophie be tested for the disease after discovering that her skin was salty — one of the manifestations of the abnormal protein which usually balances salt and water in the body results in extra salty sweat. With this diagnosis, she was appropriately treated and eventually discharged but wasn’t expected to live past her teens. The life expectancy for people with CF at the time was 30 years.

I remember my five-year-old self playing in a hospital playroom before I was brought to see my new baby sister. Sophie was wired up to noisy machines, including a respirator. I was so young, I couldn’t understand, and it made me feel afraid. A hospital staff took my hand and comforted me. Her compassion and care, and seeing how Sophie has flourished under the wonderful healthcare teams since, coupled with being involved in her daily treatment regimes and regular hospital visits growing up, made me appreciate modern medicine. These events inspired me to want do the same for others one day.  

Next year, quite amazingly, Sophie turns 30. She is the most driven, incredible and inspirational woman I know.

How did your interest in surgery come about?

When I was at medical school, I had my sights set on one of three career paths: becoming a clinical geneticist (I did an intercalated Masters degree in this subject), forensic pathologist or forensic psychiatrist. However, when I started Foundation Year 1 (the equivalent of Postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1) in Singapore), I started on a busy medical job on a gastroenterology ward doing internal medicine on-calls and loved the pace of a busy hospital environment. My last FY1 posting was as part of a breast surgery firm, where I had the most inspiring (and a little eccentric) consultant leading the team. He exuded passion, giving so much care to his patients, and he took me under his wing. He allowed me to do lots in theatre and I fell in love with it – the practical skill required, the art of it, seeing so much anatomy come to life and, of course, caring for patients. I began to appreciate the impact the surgery and aftercare had on their lives. After that, I worked hard to gain as much exposure in surgery as I could before applying for my first surgical training job, which I successfully obtained. 

This is why I would advise our students not to rule specialties in or out too soon, or to rush that decision – you never know what might inspire you as you mature during your journey through medicine. It also showed me how impactful and important good role models are in our professional identity development and in shaping our career paths.

Tell us about your medical journey to LKCMedicine.

I joined LKCMedicine in 2014, and I don’t know where those years have gone. During my postgraduate training, I became interested in medical education and would regularly teach the juniors and medical students on the wards. In the UK, it is quite common for doctors to take time out to complete a year or so as an Education Associate or Fellow, to coordinate and deliver medical student teaching formally. I had been considering this as an option when the opportunity to move to Singapore for a couple of years came up and that is when I discovered LKCMedicine. 

I was excited about the prospect of joining the School in its early phases of development, particularly as it’s so forward thinking in its pedagogy and use of innovative tools. I started life here as Senior Research Fellow, becoming involved in medical education research as well as taking on various teaching roles. 


In your role as Assistant Dean for Years 1 & 2, what changes will you be making?

I am excited about my appointment as Assistant Dean for Years 1 & 2. Having just completed the review of the Year 1 and 2 curriculum in my previous role as the Lead for Course Evaluation, I am in a fortunate position to be starting as Assistant Dean with a new and up-to-date course which I am very familiar with, and I plan to ensure the iterative review of it continues to keep it that way.  

As part of the curriculum review process, I got to know many of our clinical and research content experts well, and I look forward to working with them to enhance the curriculum together as we move forward. One of the key outcomes of the review was to further engage our research faculty, not only in delivering the curriculum but also taking on more leadership roles in managing the modules and longitudinal courses. I would like to work even more closely with our research faculty to ensure that they are aware of all the teaching opportunities available throughout the first two years. This will mean maximal exposure of our students to scientists working at the cutting-edge of their fields, which may spark interest in pursuing research opportunities during medical school and beyond, as well as provide a deeper understanding of the basic science underpinning medicine.

Another area I am keen to explore is how elements of resilience building and lifestyle medicine can be further introduced into the curriculum. This is important for our students not only when they manage their patients, but also in their own lives. I hope we can provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to apply this to themselves to ensure that in their busy and stressful lives of doctoring, they prioritise self-care and can cope with the stressful periods this enriching career will throw at them from time to time. 

How will the current online-delivered medical education experience due to Covid-19 inform and mould future education at LKCMedicine? 

Technology is at the core of our pedagogy and curriculum, with a large part of our learning resources for students already online on iLKC. There were logistical challenges in moving to e-Team-Based Learning (e-TBL) and other online teaching, but these were quickly ironed out by the amazing e-learning and TBL teams who have extensive experience in the use of technology and the challenges it can pose.

This period has shown us how much we can achieve effectively via delivery of online learning sessions. Feedback from students and faculty about their experiences and ability to learn efficiently has largely been positive. Once we can be physically on campus again, face-to-face learning will be something we look forward to, but I expect we will find a new normal. It may be that sometimes our content experts will Zoom in rather than join us in the classroom. I think it should also encourage us to look at how we produce our preparatory materials and optimise on how engaging they are for students.

In your experience, what do you think are the most meaningful parts of being a medical student and a doctor that would always require the human touch?

I will never forget my first interactions with real patients as a medical student: the willingness of someone to trust and open their heart to you because you were a part of this special profession. This is something technology can never replace, despite its ever-increasing presence in the clinic. 

Medicine is far more than science alone. At the heart of it is the human touch. Although so much is changing in the way we practise, particularly with more and more reliance on the use of technology, the human side is what will always set medicine apart: the interactions with patients, the ability to provide comfort, care and reassurance at times of anxiety. This compassion and empathy need to be safeguarded as medicine changes to ensure that the human side is never lost. 

Speaking of the human touch, the House system is a linchpin of the School. As a House Tutor, what has your experience been like?  

The House System is such a precious part of LKCMedicine, and I am so glad to be involved. I have been a House Tutor in Marie Curie for four years and it has been one of the most meaningful parts of my role at the School. I am allowed the privilege of helping students when they are going through difficult times and seeing them grow as they progress on their journey to becoming doctors. It’s an incredible support system which I am proud to have been a part of, both for the students but also as part of a wonderful and diverse team of House Tutors, whom I have learned so much from.

On top of these roles, you’re also carrying on with your research. Tell us about the active research you’re doing now.

My research focuses on medical education and is in three main areas. The first is exploring how doctors make clinical decisions, a process known as diagnostic or clinical reasoning. The second is medical student transitions, and currently, I am part of the team studying the transition and preparedness for practice of our final-year students as they transition to PGY1. The final area of interest is in anatomy education. I am working with our Head of Anatomy Assistant Professor Reddy Mogali on a couple of projects.

And finally, what would you say to the incoming batch to get them excited about the first two years of medical school?

You are beginning the journey of a lifetime. Day One at LKCMedicine represents the beginning of your lifelong career in medicine, something many of you have worked for years towards already. You will continue doing so at an extraordinary medical school. LKCMedicine’s curriculum and pedagogy are at the forefront in terms of technology and innovation. The curriculum is also up-to-date with and inclusive of modern advances in medicine and science. The School is part of an international collaboration with one of the world’s most impressive universities, Imperial College London. What truly sets us apart though is that LKCMedicine is a caring medical school, with compassion at its heart, both in the way we look after our students and also the types of doctors we are nurturing. Community is key in everything we do, so you are entering a very unique environment, where you will feel supported and encouraged to do your very best and to grow into the type of doctor you would like to be.

So please embrace the opportunities you are offered, approach your learning with curiosity and enthusiasm, and your patients and peers with compassion, and you are well on your way to an enriching life in medicine.