Overcoming the Challenges of Tomorrow

Sylvia Thay

Thanks to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions here in Singapore, the SMA and TriMedSoc Alliance were able to conduct the SMA 4th National Medical Students Convention (NMSC) in person at the National University of Singapore's compound over the long Labour Day weekend.

The TriMedSoc Alliance includes representatives from the three local medical schools' medical societies, with the common goal of unifying and representing the voices of the local medical student community. SMA is pleased to work with the team in co-organising the SMA NMSC, which seeks to be a platform where local medical students can come together to gain knowledge and learn from common experiences that will help them along in their journeys towards becoming a part of the profession.

In line with this objective, this year's Convention was purposefully curated to not only engage medical students, but also to provide an avenue for participants to raise queries that they may have regarding their careers in medicine. Participants were able to select their preferred track out of the three available prior to the event day, each featuring a pertinent concern of current doctors in training (DITs).

Participants arrived bright and early on 30 April 2022, and the event began with a keynote message delivered by Dr Calvin Tjio, a member of the SMA Doctors-in-Training Committee. This was followed by a panel discussion with three junior doctors who shared openly with the attendees their ups and downs in the pursuit of medicine, and two afternoons featuring a multitude of electives and workshops each tailored to the topic of concern. The experience was further enhanced with the support of digital aids such as live streaming over Telegram, submitting questions and feedback via the Slido platform, and live polling functions. This integration of digital tools was employed throughout the Convention, reflecting the digital age and time that doctors and patients live in today.

The two-day event presented medical educators, doctors and students with the opportunity to delve into challenges that the profession faces, whether in school or in the workplace. The feedback and outcomes derived from the respective tracks will be collated and shared with the relevant parties to allow the voices and concerns of the young attendees to be heard.

Aside from the above-mentioned sessions, many opportunities were also intertwined in the programme to allow students from the respective medical schools to mingle and interact organically. These opportunities included conversation prompts over lunch, ice breakers and the much-awaited social night on 1 May, where students enjoyed acai bowls, pizzas and the chance to win lucky draw prizes including the grand prize – Apple Airpods. This helped to create opportunities to foster meaningful interactions between students across the three medical schools, who will come to be colleagues upon graduation.

With much joy and laughter, the two-day SMA NMSC came to a close with insights gained, new friendships formed and much food for thought. We would like to thank all the participants who joined in the Convention, both on-site and online, for making this event an impactful one, and even more so to the TriMedSoc Alliance's Organising Committee who poured in so much time and effort despite their busy curriculum.

Last but not least, we thank the following medical educators and professionals who made time over the precious long weekend to meet and speak with the participants.

Till the next instalment of the SMA NMSC!

"NMSC 2022 saw the coming together of medical students from across the three local medical schools in Singapore to talk and learn about issues that concern them deeply both now and in the future. We are thankful to have brought NMSC back and look forward to medical students continuing to rally around issues they care about!"

- Caitlin O'Hara, President of NUS Medical Society and Chairperson of the TriMedSoc Alliance.