The playwright George Bernard Shaw is thought to have been the source of the saying, “If you can’t do, teach.” As the Vice-Dean (Education) at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine from 2001 to 2010, Associate Professor Koh Dow Rhoon could do and teach very well. He was also instrumental in transforming the medical curriculum, training the next generation of doctors to meet the 21st century healthcare needs of Singapore.
Under his leadership, the School developed more efficient organisational processes and implemented high quality faculty development programmes such as the Harvard Medical International (HMI) courses in medical education and the Asia Pacific Education Conference (APMEC). To enhance clinical training at the various restructured hospitals, A/Prof Koh secured funding to develop Academic Units at the Associate Dean’s Offices to support clinical small group teaching, student internship programme and simulation training. He also enhanced communication between the Associate Dean’s Offices of the various restructured hospitals to improve ownership and accountability for teaching and training.
A/Prof Koh contributed significantly to the development of the Centre for Healthcare Simulation at the Centre for Translational Medicine (MD6). He obtained funding to purchase a high-end simulator (Human Patient Simulator from Medical Education Technologies, Inc.) and other simulators such as Laerdal Medical’s SimMan® and Harvey®.
Always keeping an eye out for better ways of teaching, A/Prof Koh created more opportunities for ambulatory training of medical students and residents by shifting more clinical training to the NUH outpatient clinics and in the primary care setting. In addition, he also initiated more work-based training in the form of the Student Internship Programme (SIP) and placement of students in healthcare teams. This was supported by the use of education technology and IT to enhance student learning and use of health information systems in training hospitals to aid their work-based training. A/Prof Koh was also actively involved in the planning of the ambulatory clinical education space in the upcoming NUH Medical Centre.
The welfare of medical students also received attention from their Vice-Dean for Education. He established a student affairs team to monitor students’ progress and provide support for poorer-performing students and a student mentorship scheme for faculty and alumni to help mentor incoming medical students. He also set up a scholarship and bursary committee to assist financially-needy students, as well as education criteria and parameters for donations and financial assistance. For his work with the students, the Medical Society, represents the medical student body, honoured him with the Friend of Med-Soc Award in 2010.
A/Prof Koh’s contributions to medical education were recognised by the international community when he was bestowed the ‘Mentoring, Innovation and Leadership in Education Scholarship” MILES award and the Public Administration Medal (Bronze), both in 2009.
With his contributions, mentorship and leadership in clinical education in NUHS and in Singapore, A/Prof Koh is truly our NUHS Outstanding Mentor.