13 Nov 2013
Nurturing the next generation of doctors
Tomorrow's Medicine, Issue 4 - November 2013
Professor Ranga Krishnan, Dean, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, shares his thoughts on medical education in Singapore.
When you interview medical students for admission, is there a set of criteria that you’re looking for?
Besides the usual metrics, Grade Point Average and Medical College Admission Test, we look for other elements that suggest interest and success. Intelligence has to be a given, but there is the very important question: Why do they want to do Medicine and are they passionate about it? The other metric is the indication that they will work very hard to get what they want.
From next year in the US, the Medical College Admission Test will be changed to include behavioural knowledge. The authorities are beginning to realise that a lot of what physicians do as practitioners is learning to listen and communicate effectively. If they find it hard to communicate effectively, it’s going to be difficult.
How do we persuade clinician practitioners to become clinician scientists?
It is not possible or preferable to have a scenario where everyone wants to become clinical research scientists. No country can afford to sustain them. What we want is for every practising physician to be able to innovate in his or her area of practice. Our goal is to have physicians who keep asking the two questions: “Why?” and “Can we do it better?”
Do you think Duke-NUS can engage in positive interactions and forge synergistic relationships with Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM) and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine)?
LKCMedicine is essentially going with our model of teaching. They are using a model similar to our Team-Based Learning approach and they have hired one of our people. We are willing to work with them as we move forward in trying to train the next generation to think. Education should not be thought of as another competitive arena. Our collaboration with YLLSoM is probably closer to percolation rather than extensive direct engagement, but I think what their students are experiencing at SingHealth is similar to what we have built for Duke-NUS students.
Do you think management and leadership skills are an important part of the syllabus for medical students?
Everybody needs to know how to work in a team and how to lead. Often, doctors’ roles in a team are to provide critical leadership, and that is what we have been trying to do from day one with Team-Based Learning for our students. In fact, all our students partake in leadership training during their orientation. We are trying to incorporate more of it in the wards.
You recently wrote in an article in Today newspaper that having a clear set of goals is crucial to the education journey. How do you ensure that your students fulfil these goals?
The students have explicit goals that are increasingly differentiated as they progress. We teach them that having clear goals helps chart their path.
Extracted from an interview by Dr Toh Han Chong, Deputy Head of NCCS Medical Oncology and Editor of SMA News (a publication of the Singapore Medical Association), published in SMA News August 2013.