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"Round Up of the 5th House Officers' Seminar"

It’s funny how one year passes by so fast. Just one year ago, me and my peers were in the same positions that now I view these new housemen are in. We were excited, brash, raring to go. Yet at the same time we were all worried and apprehensive that despite having a scroll that told everyone that we were doctors, none of us felt like we had the ‘real stuff’.

One year has indeed gone by, and this time we have become the ones dishing out the advice on how to be safe housemen and avoiding basic errors. This seems like a job that is quite easily done, except at the back of our minds was the fact that whether we were successful or not will be all but revealed in a week’s time, when they start work. But looking at things in a different light, I was comforted by the fact that, before there was a HO seminar, what did the new housemen do? Just waltz in and play doctor from day 1? Something that seemed impossible to me, but somehow all true. So whatever we did must be an improvement from the old days…

This year the seminar was held in Westin Stamford Hotel (Yes! Even in the midst of the economic downturn!) in the afternoon of 25 April. The plan was to go one step further than that and make things relevant, succinct, informative and fun. In view of the feedback that was received from the housemen themselves, we have succeeded on all counts. Everyone enjoyed themselves, nobody fell asleep (even though A/Prof Low gave them all permission to do so!) and some people even diligently took notes. But the real test will be on 3 May, when they take over us and we become their medical officers. Only then, will we know if our objectives were reached.

This year, the seminar was not very different in format compared to the previous years, but acting on feedback that it was repetitive we worked hard to separate topics such that the overlap of information was kept as low as possible. The housemen speakers covered down-to-earth topics about daily ward work, night calls and communication skills with Dr Gopal Iyer and Dr Lai Juinn Herng spicing up what normally would be boring and dry subjects with their brand of zany humour about ward work and night calls. Dr David Tan, on the other hand gave his speech in between the both of them, giving a serious delivery about public relations skills to vary the tone and pace of the event. After all, we don’t want everyone to think that we were all a bunch of clowns… Seriously speaking, given that all 3 HO speakers were coincidentally postcall on the day itself, they did a fantastic job!

After a short tea break, the seminar restarted with a few hiccups as the slide projector came to grief. The session started after some delay with the more learned speakers in the form of Dr Thirumoothy, an eminent Consultant Dermatologist in private practice, who is also the Chairman of the Ethical Issues and Policy Review Committee, gave a speech on ethical issues in general and specific issues which were relevant to the House Officers. Next on was Dr Yue Wai Mun, a Registrar in the Department of Orthopaedics, SGH, who delivered a clear and succinct overview of how to learn medicine as a houseman, and career choices after housemanship. Lastly, A/Prof Low Cheng Hock came on as our ‘anchor man’, speaking in his usual personable style and shared some words of wisdom peppered with inspirational thoughts for not just the housemen, but for anyone in the room who lost their way in the vast ocean of medicine.

Ending the seminar on a high note, everyone filed out in droves ready to take all that they learned back to the wards in a week or so. For those of us who were involved in making it happen, it was simply a relief to have done our jobs well. Of course, there was also the very professional SMA secretariat who made all the nitty gritty details disappear like magic. To them and all the others who helped in one way or another, thanks! K

Organising Chairman
5th House Officers’ Seminar
SMA MO Committee