Summer in Singapore

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As I have just completed my first year of clinical study, I felt that I should explore more about the healthcare system in other countries and find out the pros and cons of the NHS system I learnt in Edinburgh. Therefore, I have chosen the Internal Medicine Department of Tan Tock Seng Hospital (General Hospital in Singapore) as my first destination. I have always wanted to work in Singapore as a medical practitioner since the day I stepped into medical school because of its excellent and efficient healthcare system.

In fact, I was quite worried about the working environment in Singapore. I have learnt that it is extremely competitive and stressful working in Singapore, especially in medical field. As a student, I was expected to work with their local medical students and help easing the junior doctors’ workload. Moreover, I was expected to communicate with most of the elderly patients in Mandarin and Hokkien (a Chinese dialect). From the first day in medical school, I was taught to commute with patients in English, I have never trained myself taking history or performing physical examination using other languages. It was truly challenging to me even though Mandarin is my mother tongue.

Fortunately, my friend, Rachel, a Singaporean who is my course mate in Edinburgh, was also doing the elective with me. We helped each other out when clerking and following up patients. Furthermore, the local medical students are really friendly and helpful. They guided us throughout the whole placement. They invited us to join their tutorials which are conducted by their clinical tutors. Dr Endean is our supervisor as well as a senior consultant of the internal medicine department. He is very knowledgeable and extremely keen in teaching. He enjoys discussion sessions with the students during and after ward round. Personally, I love to be quizzed by him because his questions have stimulated my brain cells and encouraged me to think like a doctor. I have gained valuable insights from him and sharing knowledge with other students throughout the elective.

Apart from that, I have also learnt the similarities and differences between the NHS and Singapore’s healthcare system. In NHS Lothian, patient information is stored in an internal system called Trakcare and it is shared by all authorised healthcare providers. In Singapore, they have similar system but the interface is more user-friendly and efficient. In my opinion, the threshold of referring a patient to another department is higher in Singapore than that of Lothian. For example, a patient with heart failure is seen by an internal medicine physician, the patient will only be referred to a cardiologist if the disease becomes worse. In contrast, whereas in Lothian, patient with similar condition will be referred to cardiology department directly and seen immediately by a cardiologist.

Last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rachel and her family for providing shelter during my entire stay in Singapore.

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