On 16 August, 150 first year students donned their white coats at NTU’s Nanyang Auditorium. As LKCMedicine Chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh, LKCMedicine Dean Distinguished University Professor Joseph Sung, esteemed guests, family members, staff and faculty watched with pride, the 11th cohort was formally inducted into the School and the world of healthcare.
The School’s annual White Coat Ceremony signalled the start of their medical education, and as shared by Guest-of-Honour, Associate Professor Alan Ng Wei Keong, Master of Academy of Medicine, Singapore, the Ceremony is also “a public declaration of [the students’] commitment to professionalism and caring. [They] will all be mindful of the professional responsibilities which come when [they] put on the white coat; a commitment to act in the best interests and well-being of the patient.”
To convey the significance of the medical profession and the students’ decision to study medicine, A/Prof Ng detailed the history of the doctor’s white coat and the White Coat Ceremony, which can be traced back to the late 1800s and 1980s, respectively.
As A/Prof Ng concluded his speech, he reminded the freshmen to not be deterred by the challenges they will encounter in medical school. Instead, they should use the personal statement they wrote to enrol into the School as their North Star; to not lose sight of why they embarked on this path to become a doctor. “Throughout your journey, remember that learning is a lifelong pursuit. Take every opportunity to expand your knowledge, challenge your assumptions, and explore the frontiers of medical science,” he elaborated.
Prof Sung, who is also NTU Senior Vice-President for Health and Life Sciences, proceeded to address the newly matriculated students, assuring them that the LKCMedicine family, comprising peers and faculty, will guide them to be “a doctor with good skills and the right heart.”
Touching on the end of LKCMedicine’s collaboration agreement with Imperial College London in 2028, Prof Sung said, “While you are the final batch to graduate with a joint degree, you too will benefit from an enhanced curriculum that has been accredited by the Singapore Medical Council…This future-focused curriculum will prepare you to respond to rapid changes in medicine and healthcare due to technological and scientific advances, as well as the evolving needs of our patients and communities.”
It was then time for the highly anticipated moment — the conferment of the white coats according to the five Houses the students belong to.
As LKCMedicine Vice-Dean (Clinical Affairs) Professor Pang Weng Sun and Vice-Dean (Education) Professor Jennifer Cleland called out their names, the students went onstage to wear their white coats with the assistance of Prof Sung, Assistant Deans and House Tutors.
This was followed by the Class of 2028 collectively reciting the Declaration of a New Medical Student. Their promise to remain committed to their patients and to the values of being a doctor echoed across the Auditorium.
Adding to the sanctity of the moment, was a poetry reading by Year 2 student Rishi Rayapati. Written by Year 3 student Dalton Chee Shaohan, the poem titled, The Best Doctor highlights the importance of both foundational sciences and medical humanities.
Bringing the ceremony to a close was Associate Professor Mahesh Choolani, President of College of Clinician Scientists, Singapore, who imparted pearls of wisdom to the budding doctors. “Remember to see each patient as a unique Individual — a person with hopes, with fears, and with dreams of a better life after recovering from this condition, or ailment,” he advised.
Drawing upon his 35 over years as a doctor, A/Prof Choolani shared three key traits required to succeed in the profession: austerity, resilience and tenacity. He noted, “It is this A, R, T, or ART of Medicine, that has allowed so many of your seniors to continue to excel as clinicians, as physicians, and as doctors over the many decades of their lives; and it is this ART of Medicine that will stand you in good stead through the rest of your medical career.”
Brimming with insights from leaders in the medical profession and excitement about the future that awaits them, the first-year students commemorated the occasion with a cohort-wide group photo at the end of the ceremony.
While the White Coat Ceremony signified the beginning of five years of medical education, the decision to study medicine, for many, was years in the making.
Raffles Junior College alumnus and scholarship recipient Xavier Ong’s encounter with doctors and nurses when he had appendicitis at the age of eight planted the seeds of interest in becoming a doctor. “Though not a very serious illness, being told that I needed major surgery at such a young age really distressed me. Thankfully, the doctors and nurses treated me with respect and compassion throughout my stay, easing me into a smooth and successful surgery. This initial event was followed by seeing other family members deal with serious illnesses, and every single time, the doctors never failed to show their kindness and competency to them. This inspired me to become a doctor and pursue a lifelong purpose of serving others,” he explained.
Similarly, Muhammad Danish Nuriman Bin Misran’s decision to study medicine stemmed from seeing many loved ones and a close friend who suffered from chronic illnesses and cancer. He shared, “My late great-uncle who helped raise me, developed chronic kidney disease when I was 10 years old, and had to contend with regular dialysis sessions before he eventually passed of kidney failure during the pandemic. These experiences sparked my interest in medicine, particularly in chronic illnesses, preventive medicine and cancer.” The Anglo Chinese School (Independent) alumnus also considers himself lucky to have a mother who has been in the healthcare sector for 30 years, allowing him to glean insights into the demands and satisfaction of being a medical professional.
Having worked as a cardiac technologist during an internship while at Singapore Polytechnic, Lai Ruiqi is keen to build upon her on-the-job experience and expand her knowledge at LKCMedicine. “As a cardiac technologist, I was always left with many questions at the end of my day: Was my patient with a positive case for ECG treadmill agreeable for a stress echocardiography? What were the follow-up plans for my patient with a reduced systolic function? The continuity of care and the investigative and problem-solving aspects of being a doctor single-handedly spurred me to pursue Medicine over many other frontline roles in healthcare,” said Ruiqi.
Narasimamorthy Tamilmathi is equally excited about commencing this chapter of her life with LKCMedicine. Despite receiving offers from more than one medical school, the National Junior College alumnus was drawn to the School’s emphasis on clinical communications. “I believe that LKCMedicine’s Foundation on Clinical Practice classes will equip me with the skills required to be a doctor that emotionally connects with her patients.” She added, “The Team-Based Learning (TBL) pedagogy also played a part in my decision to choose LKCMedicine. TBL allows me to watch lectures and absorb content at my own pace which I personally believe allows for better understanding. It also enables me to better apply the knowledge learnt and come prepared with any questions I might have.”
For Koh Lin Pin, LKCMedicine is a promising springboard for his research and academic pursuits. “Though LKCMedicine has already graduated six cohorts of doctors, it is still a very young medical school. Being young means much more room for innovation and enterprise. It is also up and coming in research and the field of technology and Artificial Intelligence, which is the future of healthcare!” enthused the Anglo Chinese School (Independent) alumnus, who was offered opportunities to pursue his undergraduate education with A*STAR and other medical schools.
As the Class of 2028 readies themselves to fulfil their aspirations of becoming a doctor, LKCMedicine is thrilled to spend the next few years nourishing their minds and spirits.