By Amanda Lee, Senior Assistant Manager, Communications and Outreach
LKCMedicine Medical Society (LKCMedSoc) has inked an agreement with NUS Medical Society and Duke-NUS Student Council to be part of a first of its kind alliance to unify and represent the voice of Singapore’s medical student community.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on 12 July, the three medical schools officially formed the TriMedSoc Alliance.
The unprecedented alliance, which will begin in October this year, includes student bodies of the local medical schools through regular dialogues and engagement with external stakeholders. It will also build on sustained close relationships with organisations including the Singapore Medical Association and Ministry of Health (MOH).
Through the collaboration, the alliance aims to advance and synergise student advocacy and community engagement efforts.
Chairmanship of the alliance will be rotated within the three medical schools’ student societies. The first chairman of the alliance will be from NUS. Each chairman will hold the position for a year.
The MOU signing, which was took placed via Zoom, saw the attendance of MOH Director of Medical Services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak as well as the Deans of the three medical schools (LKCMedicine; Distinguished University Professor Joseph Sung, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine; Professor Chong Yap Seng and Duke-NUS Medical School: Professor Thomas Coffman).
At the virtual event, Assoc Prof Mak congratulated the three medical schools’ student societies for coming together to formalise their collaboration.
“I know each of your society has worked very hard to look after the interests of your students and to uphold their welfare through these difficult times. Your partnerships do provide new opportunities to share resources and to collaborate further on initiatives that will benefit both the wider community that you live in as well as the medical schools that you are in. I look forward with great interest to hear more of your programmes and activities in the future,” he added.
Prof Sung said he is heartened to know that LKCMedicine is part of the alliance, as students will be able to network across the schools and develop mutually beneficial programmes and activities.
“At the same time, their voices can be expressed, heard, and actioned upon. So, you will be a very important part of our professional society. (Through) this initiative I would anticipate close collaboration between the three medical schools not just from our faculty, but also from our students. I believe that at this time of the world, our medical students and future doctors not only need to learn skills and knowledge, but they also have to practise humanity in medicine, and it is through the three medical schools and our students joining activities with each other, providing medical services to the underprivileged groups,” he added.
On the collaboration, Prof Yap said the alliance is a defining step in solidarity of medical students in Singapore.
“Medical students are no longer divided because of which school they come from but are united in fulfilling common purpose to support current and future students to the best doctors they can be,” he added.
Prof Coffman added that medicine is a team sports and collaboration is critical for success for the three missions of the medical schools in education, research, and clinical care.
“So, it’s especially heartening that this partnership is driven by you students which goes well for building something that will be durable, and you will be peers and colleagues for a lifetime in medicine and for the rest of your career,” he added.
Achieving a common goal
With the MOU, the alliance will serve as the official student representative body for all medical students in the three medical schools.
The MOU lays out a framework of sustained and close collaboration between the three medical student representative bodies. It also aims to develop programmes and activities that support the holistic development of the medical student community in Singapore.
The founding committee of the alliance has laid out four key areas of collaboration in the immediate to medium term.
These include community engagement initiatives, encouraging discourse among doctors-in-training on pertinent healthcare topics, supporting the holistic development of patient-centric doctors and intensifying stakeholder engagement efforts to promote an active student voice and presentation.
LKCMedSoc President Sean Ng said the establishment of the TriMedSoc Alliance through the signing of the MOU is an important step in furthering collaboration between the three medical schools.
“It signals a renewed commitment towards the creation of more joint initiatives, providing more opportunities for our student bodies to interact and form connections before we become colleagues in the workplace. Furthermore, the MOU recognises the TriMedSoc Alliance as the official student representative body of all local medical students, through which we will engage with key stakeholders and advocate for the students’ needs,” he added.
Chairperson Pro-Tempore of the TriMedSoc Alliance and President of NUS Medical Society Teo Chong Boon said the signing of the MOU formalises the establishment of the TriMedSoc Alliance.
“It also recognises the importance of the TriMedSoc Alliance in creating an ideal environment for the holistic development of future doctors, through closer collaboration in the areas of community service and engagement, student representation and advocacy efforts by local medical students,” said Chong Boon.
Meanwhile, President of the Duke-NUS Student Council Katherine Nay said, “We are humbled to bear witness to this landmark moment of partnership among local medical students despite the ongoing pandemic restrictions”.
One of the upcoming initiatives that will be organised by the alliance is a revamped version of the National Medical Student Convention (NMSC), which is currently slated for December this year.
Sean said the convention hopes to educate doctors-in-training on pertinent healthcare topics. The NMSC will also feature a hackathon for the brainstorm of Artificial Intelligence and technology-enabled community engagement solutions by inter-school teams to emphasise the spirit of service to the wider community that all future doctors should embody.
“An event of this scale is made possible only through the close collaboration among the three student representative bodies under the TriMedSoc Alliance,” said Sean.
Since the 7th LKCMedSoc ExCo, Sean said the three schools have been in close discussions to sign the MOU to officialise the formation of the alliance.
President of the 7th LKCMedSoc Dr Ashwin S/O Singaram, who is now a Postgraduate Year 1 doctor at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, said, the MOU is another step forward in formalising the three schools’ collaboration.
“I’m certain that it will take the partnership amongst the three student societies to even greater heights. It was great to finally bear witness to the fruits of many years of labour. Congratulations to the student leaders for getting this done and all the best to them!,” he added.