The Medical School was founded in 1905 in response to the need to train doctors for Singapore. In 2005, this School, now the Faculty of Medicine in the National University of Singapore, will celebrate her 100th year. This brief review attempts to chronicle the way in which the medical course has been designed over the years to address the principal aims of undergraduate medical education. From the inception of the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School to the present, strong clinically based teaching was the key element, although there was some distinction between the foundational preclinical years and the clinical phases of training. Initially, this was necessitated by the fact that students were too poorly equipped in the sciences to have a more integrated curriculum. Over time, the structure of the course, learning objectives and teaching pedagogy and techniques became better developed. Of late, many of these elements have been revised and better articulated by the Faculty following a review. The method, frequency and emphasis of student evaluations have also changed as medical knowledge grows and the population becomes developed, with attendant disease pattern changes. The clinical relevance of the course and the need to train competent doctors remain the main mission of the Faculty of Medicine even in this age of molecular medicine and a technology-enhanced practice setting. Competency alone is, however, incomplete without good role models in the art of the practice of medicine. It is heartening to note that medical ethics and communications skills continue to be emphasised in the modern curriculum.
In 2005, the Medical Faculty of the National University of Singapore (NUS) will commemorate the 100th year of its founding. The Straits and Federal Malay States Government Medical School, as it was called, had a humble beginning, with an enrolment of only 23 students in 1905.
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