Students' Take: Looking to the light in the toughest times

By Emma Pereira, Class of 2022

Sitting here, in front of my laptop after being in the hospital for 14 hours feels surreal. Since I started Postgraduate Year 1, my time at home is spent doing two things – eating and sleeping right after. Today is probably the only time I’ve done something else other than the two.  

Looking back, I don’t think anything could have fully prepared me for this battle, and I don’t think anyone will ever be fully prepared to face the full wrath of the busy healthcare system in Singapore. What I do know however, is that LKCMedicine has prepared me well for it, and I find myself in moments, being so grateful for my experiences in LKCMedicine which have helped me so much since I started work.  

Emma (far right) and her fellow junior doctors

It was daunting being in a new environment. I could no longer use the line “I’m just a medical student”. Once a nurse called me “Doctor” and I turned back to see who she was talking to. Suddenly, the responsibilities were piling up and I recalled being quickly overwhelmed. However, I am very grateful for my Student Assistantship Programme (SAP) experience. I was in a familiar environment and got used to the system fast as I had ample practice doing my SAP in Tan Tock Seng Hospital. In addition, being around faculty also made the transition easier as I recognised familiar faces and was now working with my past lecturers and mentors in LKCMedicine.  

Apart from the ward work and duties, we are now expected to work with many different groups of people – COHOs, seniors, nurses, allied health professionals – and are in constant contact and communication with them. All with a single goal – to care for patients as best as we can. Being in LKCMedicine, where the Team Based Learning (TBL) strategy is fundamental to our curriculum, I found myself assimilating into the teams in the hospital easily and learning to compromise where necessary, as how we used to do in our TBL teams. 

I am most satisfied with how LKCMedicine has taught me to communicate effectively with patients and their families. I was prepared well on how to broach difficult topics, how to offer empathy where appropriate, listen actively, and deal with family members who may be upset. The words and phrases came naturally, and I found myself being comfortable and calm in difficult situations, recalling what I’ve learnt and the feedback I’ve been given during the Integrated Clinical Practice sessions. 

It has only been two months, and it would be a lie if I say I didn’t miss being a student! I still look longingly at the juniors sometimes, wishing I could be a student again. However, I am happy and grateful to be where I am now. 

In the toughest of days, there is always something to make me smile and remember how privileged I am to be where I am now, after five years of studies. No amount of money can buy the pure happiness on patients’ faces when you let them know they’re fit to go home, their priceless joy when you let them know they can eat after being fasted, the satisfaction of taking a set of bloods, the relief when the duty radiologist approves your scan, the post-call delirious high after knowing you’ve survived the night, and most importantly, when you know you ended the day trying your best and caring for your patients in their journey of healing. 

In the toughest times, I look to the light – which is my patients – and I seek to improve myself day by day to be a better doctor to them, to be a better co-worker to my colleagues, and a person to whoever I meet!

Emma (fourth from left) with her coursemates at the LKCMedicine Novena campus