Sunday, February 22, 2009

Medical Education in Singapore - a road downhill

I was worried that some of my comments about medical education is Singapore might have been too negative... or as modern management would have it...not appropriately progressive enough.

But I coincidentally bumped into quite a few colleagues who have attended the recent Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference, and was assured that my views were quite representative of what the local attendees felt. Of course the visiting pedagogues all had nice things to pontificate about, but once you got beyond the niceties, there was no denying the prevailing sense of negativity and despondency among the local medical educators. The Medical School they all felt, had sacrificed the education agenda for the more eye catching research targets. Resources meant for education had been hijacked to pay for expensive research activities - research labs and non-teaching researchers. Student intake has gone up significantly and is set to go even higher, yet the Medical School has capped the hiring of educators in favour of researchers. Instructions had apparently gone out that new hires cannot be for medical teaching. On paper, staff-student ratios appear appropriate by international standards, but many research oriented staff, cannot teach or refuse to teach. Curricular changes reflect this degenerating state of commitment to teach. 'Teach less learn more' while idealogically attractive, seemed to most a sad reflection of this diminishing and commitment desire to teach.


If all this is true, I think we are going to have problems in the future.

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