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Beyond the confines of the classroom

8th CGH-Lab Medicine Symposium

Real-world experiences for students and maintaining current knowledge for staff are integral features of the Diploma in Biomedical Science (DBS) programme. To this end, 15-20 students and staff attended the 8th CGH Laboratory Medicine Symposium at Changi General Hospital on 18 April 2015.

Toh Wing Loon, a 2015 DBS graduate shares his perspective.

"Symposium", the word intrinsically, conjures up images of men in white coats gathering to formally discuss matters of great import in hushed tones. An intellectual powwow where the lack of a relevant title like Dr. or Prof. automatically bars one from direct invitation. The air of exclusivity which tends to associate itself with such gatherings leads many to approach the symposiums with feelings of great trepidation and inadequacy. However, thankfully the laboratory symposium at CGH proved to be an event far removed from such haughtiness. The participants encompassed a broad cross-section of the healthcare community working in hospital laboratories. The primary goal of the event being the sharing of successful strategies and information for dealing with current problems encountered in laboratory medicine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that medical technicians also came forward to speak during the symposium. Also despite polytechnic students being seemingly out of place at the symposium, I felt that the subjects discussed were highly relevant to the subjects covered in the Biomedical Science diploma. Speakers of note included Professor Aw Tar Choon, who shared recent advances in treatment of high cholesterol levels (PCSK9 inhibitors to lower LDL), as well as Professor Allen Yeoh, who shared about acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) treatment strategies in Singapore. Information presented in these talks were striking as students frequently grasp the principles behind topics like cholesterol in clinical chemistry and leukaemia in haematology, but rarely get opportunities to see them put into clinical practice. Gleaning from the experiences of practising healthcare professionals at the symposium offered me a glimpse of life beyond the walls of academia and the real world applications of knowledge. In closing, I am oft-reminded of a half-remembered school motto: "As we live, we learn". And what better way to learn than to hear from the direct experiences of medical professionals and the very real issues that vex them every day at work.