By Kimberley Wang, Manager, Media and Publications, Communications and Outreach
In April, seven LKCMedicine alumni found themselves setting foot in the familiar grounds of the Novena campus once again. Only this time, instead of attending lessons, they were here to conduct Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) with prospective students.
An integral part of the School’s admission process, the MMIs were held over eight days from 2 to 17 April. This year, 500 shortlisted candidates were invited for the MMIs, which are designed to assess their aptitude and suitability for the MBBS programme. Each candidate completed a series of mini interviews with different interviewers – a role that our LKCMedicine alumni took on for the first time.
The irony was not lost on MMI interviewer Dr Leon Tan, who is from LKCMedicine’s pioneer cohort. He said, “It feels surreal! Looking at the calibre of the candidates, I cannot believe I once went through these and somehow made it through! It makes me really thankful that I am now on the other side of it.”
Currently a Paediatric Medicine Singhealth Resident in KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Dr Tan relished the opportunity to be an interviewer to gain insight into the other side of the decision-making process. “It gave me the opportunity to go through the process of identifying what makes a good candidate, and also to contribute back to the School in a meaningful way,” he added.
Comprising eight stations with different questions or scenarios, the MMI assesses specific skills and qualities. The same interviewer rates all candidates at a specific station. With each mini interview taking about five minutes, candidates are graded based on their understanding of medicine as a career, ethical considerations in medicine, interest in science, and empathy towards people who might be ill. Many top medical schools now use this method to shortlist candidates for admission.
The alumni served as interviewers alongside over 70 LKCMedicine faculty, clinicians, educators, staff, and allied health professionals.
Also from the pioneer cohort, Dr Jean Chiew, who is currently in the Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery Department at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, was initially nervous about interviewing the candidates.
"Subsequently, my fears were assuaged by the good preparation that the School held for new interviewers. I was also assured by the fact that the MMI system prevents one interviewer from making a large biased impact in any one interviewee's journey, yet it was clear that my judgment was valued,” she said.
Another interviewer, Dr Yeo Wei Ren from the Class of 2019, was impressed with the quality of the candidates and how well they performed.
“They articulated their thought process clearly and showed that they were able to appreciate the nuances within the scenario. It also helps that they were confident and relaxed during the interview. I felt I was gaining different insights and perspectives through the interview!” said Dr Yeo, who is currently serving in the army.
Having gone through the MMI himself, he shared his tips for the candidates. He said, “Experience what healthcare providers go through on a daily basis, not just focusing on the doctors but understanding the roles our colleagues play in the delivery of patient care. Listen to what people have to share about their healthcare encounters to understand challenges healthcare providers face and the challenges patients and their family face as well.
“Read about how our national healthcare landscape is evolving and global current affairs that will affect our small nation state. Be comfortable with who you are. We hope to elicit your thoughts, not your rehearsed scripts, on these scenarios.”
Assistant Dean (Admissions and Overseas Electives) Associate Professor Kwek Tong Kiat said, “It is heartening to see graduates from our pioneer cohorts, who are now working as junior doctors in our healthcare sector, return to interview aspiring medical students in our MMI sessions. Their perspectives and experiences will certainly help us select the best candidates to be the future doctors of Singapore.”
“I am proud of our alumni for their willingness to serve in the MMIs even with their busy schedules and giving back to the School. At the same time, I hope that their experience as interviewers was an eye-opening and fulfilling one,” added Assistant Dean (Year 5) Associate Professor Tham Kum Ying.
Reminiscing about his medical school days, Dr Yeo said, “I will always look back fondly on my time in LKCMedicine. We have a great faculty and a fantastic team of supporting staff. Being a new school, there were opportunities in LKCMedicine to try something new. I have made friends whom I know will stick with me for the long haul.”
Dr Chiew feels blessed to have been part of LKCMedicine and for her unique educational experience. She said, “The newness of the school experience, along with the small size of our cohort made it even more special - more like a family who grew to accept each other and stick together regardless, rather than just university course mates. It is not easy to see sickness and be faced with mortality repeatedly at a young age, but the stellar company certainly softened the journey.”
Likewise, Dr Tan has fond memories of his time at the School. “I am very proud of the School, and very thankful to have been in a close knit and small community where all of us know one another. LKCMedicine really took great care of us during our five years in the School, and even now as an alumni. I truly believe LKCMedicine is one of the best things that have happened for me in my life so far,” he said.