Monday, March 26, 2012

A practice-oriented, teaching medical school? Why not?

Minister of State Lawrence Wong recently speaking about a more diversified university environment, suggested that that could be a place for the Singapore Institute of Technology to develop into a practice-oriented teaching university. A good idea, though not an entirely novel one! After all, such universities exist successfully elsewhere. It is not even new in Singapore, since the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was very much such a university in the early years..... until it got sucked up into the academic research game.

Our universities in Singapore have for the most part lost sight of the core objectives which are really about the  education of the next generation. These objectives have been subverted by the mad rush to play the ranking game, and to crank up the research KPIs. As a result, the universities of today all strive to look like poor simulates of high end research institutes, and generally allow their educational missions to waste away. Likewise our medical schools.

One could ask the schools who they think they are producing doctors for? The research institutes? To become award winning clinical scientists? To engage in translational research? Not that these are not important, but surely they cannot be the core objectives of the medical school? Yet, in the medical schools, it is almost forgotten that the main stakeholders are the public clinics and hospitals.

I am convinced that we need to return to basics and re-focus our energies and resources on producing good and caring practitioners who will serve and support health care delivery. We do not necessarily need the best brains for the medical profession. We don't need them to be top researchers. We need the best hearts! And we need them to care for the sick, the elderly and the handicapped.

So the MoS Lawrence Wong should consider extending idea of the practice-oriented teaching university to the training and education of doctors as well. To my mind, it is long overdue.

1 comment:

dancingbunny said...

Well said. I must say, every schools in Singapore, forgot that the main function of a school, is to provide education.

To provide sound education - we have to teach PROPERLY.

Ask any teachers/lecturers/professors on the road. Many will tell you that they have been burden with tremendous amount of "sidelines" that they have no time to teach. (Isn't it ironic?)

1) Writing proposal for research fundings.
2) Producing research results
3) Help the schools to compete with other schools for ranking and popularity.
4) Show off to the whole singapore that their students are the best volunteers in overseas orphanages.

Are we missing something?
Yes. We totally neglected teaching. Proper teaching.