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Education: Past, Present and Future (Part 2)

​As Singapore’s largest healthcare cluster, SingHealth teaches and trains an average of 270 medical, 460 nursing and 125 allied health students daily, as well as more than 900 Residents across its network of hospitals and institutions, grooming tomorrow’s healthcare teams for better patient care.

In Part 1 of Education: Past, Present and Future, we revisited our roots to better appreciate how our achievements of today are possible because of the aspirations and efforts of the generations before us. In Part 2, we will take a look at how SingHealth has built upon this strong foundation to further advance healthcare education in Singapore and beyond.

A Transformative Journey

One of the key strategic moves was the formation of a partnership between SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School. This alliance brought together SingHealth’s clinical expertise and Duke-NUS’ research and education capabilities, with a focus on nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals who will play a pivotal role in charting tomorrow’s medicine.

The partnership has since fueled many novel education initiatives, such as the launch of 15 Academic Clinical Programmes (ACP) for each major clinical specialty – the bedrock of our SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC).

Another initiative that arose from this partnership was a joint education institute – the Academic Medicine Education Institute (AMEI) – established in 2012 to provide more robust career development and resources for educators in our AMC. United by the common goal of raising the standards of healthcare education, AMEI seeks to develop teaching skills and competencies across the SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC, as well as drive scholarly efforts to advance healthcare education. 

Launch of AMEI in 2012

​Fun fact!

In the past, healthcare professionals were groomed based on the “See One, Teach One, Do One” approach. Learners would observe seniors at work, perform the task themselves under guidance and finally, pass on the skill by teaching it to their own juniors. While this was effective in developing hands-on skills, it also highlighted a pressing need to groom healthcare educators to impart clinical skills and expertise effectively to a new generation.

The Synergy Hub

With the strong SingHealth Duke-NUS partnership in place, there were hopes to transform the way healthcare professionals learn and train.

The Academia was launched in 2013 to pave the way for this.

With a floor area of 7,500sqm dedicated to healthcare education and training, it is Singapore’s largest and most comprehensive healthcare training facility, incorporating various teaching platforms from procedural skills and team-based skills to computer simulation and scenario-based simulation capabilities – all under one roof. The Academia also houses wet and dry skills laboratories and conference facilities that created new possibilities for procedural-based and team-based training in simulated environments.

Academia has hosted many key conferences and events for healthcare professionals from Singapore and around the region to engage in the sharing of knowledge and information

Since its opening, the Academia has played its role as a synergy hub where educators and trainers are able to meet for conferences and programmes, and engage in the sharing of knowledge and information. The facilities support live streaming as well as recordings of training sessions to accelerate learning without borders – a funcion that has now become a necessity, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest addition to the building is a fully equipped Extended Reality (XR) simulation lab that will be launched in 2022 – creating new possibilities for future healthcare training.

Powerhouse of Clinical Education

In 2017, SingHealth launched five Colleges and a Simulation Institute (SIMS) under our education arm, SingHealth Academy.

Launch of SingHealth Academy’s Colleges and SIMS, also known as the powerhouse of clinical education

These entities offer a wide range of coordinated education pathways for healthcare professionals across the continuum – from undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate, to continuing education and faculty development – to ensure that the training needs of healthcare professionals are well-met at every level.

Classroom of the Future

Now that we’ve covered some of the initiatives that have emerged in the last two decades, you might be wondering… what’s next?

Educators today leverage technology, conducting online teaching and blended classes to train practical skills. Teaching has become more activity-based, with online modules and simulation training sessions offering more engaging learning experiences. In addition to acquiring the latest clinical knowledge, learners are encouraged to cultivate essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation.

Simulation is a key component of today’s healthcare education, allowing learners to hone essential clinical and procedural skills in a safe and risk-free environment. Ranging from high-tech manikins to cadavers, simulation training provides an as-close-to-real-life scenario for learners to gain hands-on practice, building their confidence to deliver quality patient care.

Serious games have also become a popular way to engage learners in recent years. Drawing on new technologies such as Extended Reality (XR), serious games provide highly immersive and interactive learning experiences, which enhance knowledge and skill retention. In SingHealth, several departments have incorporated serious games into their teaching curriculum to simulate difficult or challenging scenarios for learners to practise critical skills in a safe environment, which is invaluable in preparing them to face future real-life scenarios. SingHealth educators have also relentlessly driven the development of several games that facilitate remote and virtual learning, providing greater flexibility for healthcare professionals to train at their own time, without having to compromise or re-schedule their clinical and other commitments and empowering them to take on increased ownership in the learning process.

Screenshots of serious games used in SingHealth’s teaching curriculum

Come January 2022, learners can look forward to the launch of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Medical Simulation (SIMS) i3 Hub. Located in the Academia, the i3 Hub is fully equipped with a wide array of Extended Reality (XR) solutions, with headsets like Occulus Quest, HTC vive, Microsoft Hololens, as well as cutting-edge gaming equipment.

The configuration of the hub is optimised to support training for both individuals and healthcare teams. To pick up skills like resuscitation and managing pharmacy prescriptions, learners can head to the Inspire Room for single-player games. For healthcare teams, they can visit the Energise Room for multi-player games which teaches skills like management of acute care patients and responding to cardiac arrest.

Game data can be extracted after these sessions, giving educators the useful insight needed to guide their learners better.

“Healthcare education has transformed over the years with new technologies and tools being developed as well as evolving learner profiles in a changing healthcare landscape. We need to continually familiarise ourselves with the latest innovations and capitalise on them to meet learning needs on the ground. Our methods may change, but the goal remains the same – to nurture capable and confident healthcare professionals for better patient care, experience and outcomes.” - Prof Chan Choong Meng, Group Chief Education Officer (GCEDO), SingHealth

The Way Forward

As the healthcare landscape becomes increasingly complex, we now require the expertise and knowledge of an interprofessional healthcare team to treat a patient holistically, rather than rely on a single healthcare professional or a team with members who work in silos.

Hence, there is a greater emphasis on interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) – the delivery of patient care by multiple healthcare professionals working effectively together as a team – which contributes to better health services and improved patient outcomes. One of the ways to achieve IPCP is through interprofessional education (IPE), where healthcare professionals have the opportunity to learn with, from and about one another.

While IPE is not the only factor that will facilitate IPCP, it is a key piece of the puzzle. Click here to learn more about the misconceptions of IPE and whether you are doing it right!