For medical students who have just graduated, the Postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1) programme is the first step toward 'doctor-hood' and a vital transition between undergraduate medical education and full medical registration. Dr Suzanna Sulaiman, Programme Director (PD) of the PGY1 Programme at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) takes us behind the scenes to see how the SingHealth PGY1 programme develops PGY1s in their skills, compassion and commitment to healthcare.
Share with us the PGY1 training experience – What can PGY1s look forward to when posted to KKH?
PGY1s have opportunities to gain exposure in different disciplines such as Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery and Paediatrics. In KKH Obstetrics & Gynaecology (O&G) posting, PGY1s deal mostly with female patients and get to develop first-hand knowledge and understanding of the various conditions related to the reproductive system. The PGY1s manage patients in various stages – from teenagers to reproductive age to menopausal age. When rotated to Paediatrics, their knowledge from Internal Medicine or General Surgery can be applied to children of various ages. PGY1s may also find themselves rotated to a field that they find unexpectedly interesting; subsequently, this might influence their eventual choice of Residency.
PGY1s can look forward to comprehensive training with chances to learn about various conditions in children and women, since KKH is the largest maternity and children's hospital in Singapore.
Tell us what is unique about the SingHealth PGY1 programme.
The SingHealth PGY1 programme currently offers four-month postings (three rotations in one year). This gives PGY1s ample time to adapt to and rotate among the wards. The program is well supported by the Core Faculty and administrators, and the curriculum is monitored by SingHealth to ensure optimal training. This ensures that PGY1s get to rotate to various departments and learn more about the conditions of patients.
In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about the PGY1 programme?
The PGY1 programme may be wrongly perceived as being not 'well-supported', as PGY1s have to rotate to different institutions. Some PGY1s may feel that this does not reflect 'continuity' of the PGY1 training.
In actual fact, there is constant communication between the PDs and Associate Programme Directors (APDs) at the three different institutions—Singapore General Hospital (SGH), KKH and Changi General Hospital (CGH). This allows us to draw up a roadmap to match each PGY1's learning needs. Therefore, every PGY1 will receive relevant support throughout his or her entire training.
How has the SingHealth PGY1 programme evolved? How will it progress in the next five years?
When the programme first kicked off, the various institutions spent a lot of time crafting the right curriculum for the PGY1s. The curriculum had to be concise, relevant and of educational value. The identification of Core Faculty in each institution gave us leverage to unify the training in SingHealth.
I envisage that in five years, information such as orientation details and handbooks will be available online. This will allow the IT-savvy to access such information easily. The PGY1 programme will continue to progress with a thoughtful curriculum and further develop PGY1s' potentials.
Medical technology is a wonderful thing. However, the humanity of medicine and the human touch must still be taught through our patients as they are our best teachers.
Any advice for medical students who are interested to pursue the PGY1 programme in SingHealth?
Being a doctor can sometimes be overwhelming. However, the good foundation and support system in SingHealth gives PGY1s opportunities to learn about adaptability, good work ethics, great teamwork, and resilience.
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