Three-week rotation in National University of Singapore

Date: November 1, 2010

School of Dentistry, College of Medicine, Student, Tzeh Muaeh Chong
Editor, General Education
Center, Chiara Benham
(1) Introduction
 A leading global university centered in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment, as well as special programs which allow students to realize their potential. Over 30,000 students from 100 countries further enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives, making campus life vibrant and exciting.

The present Faculty of Dentistry of the National University of Singapore began as a Department of Dentistry within the King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1929. It is situated at 2 locations, its own new FOD building at 11 Lower Kent Ridge Road (at the junction between Medical Drive and Lower Kent Ridge Road) and the other at the National University Hospital.

The main FOD building is within 6 minutes walking distance from NUH. It houses the teaching facilities and clinics for the undergraduate dental students and graduate residents in the fields of Prosthodontics, Orthodontics and Diploma in implantology. The new FOD building also houses the Dean’s office and admin complex together with the Academic staff offices.

The facilities at National University Hospital (NUH) provide graduate residency training in Endodontics, Periodontics and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. The faculty’s auditorium is housed at level 4 of the NUH building including the ITU office.

(2) Overall impression on NUS
For my program in NUS, there is a regulation stated that there will be no hands on experience in the clinics. I am restricted to observership only. Mainly, my postings at NUS can be divided into two parts, observation of the students in labs and clinics and of dentists in the hospitals. Students in NUS start seeing patients during their second year. There is a great difference in consultation fees between the undergraduates and the professionals. The dentistry department at NUS includes a dental center, which is for general dental, and an oral and maxillofacial surgery and general practice unit, which is for endodontic, periodontic and implantology.

When I first reached the office of Faculty of Dentistry at NUS, I reported myself to the person-in-charge, Miss Eileen Shang. She took me on a faculty tour and afterwards she introduced me to students and the nurse-in-charge of every department. Undergraduates of dentistry at NUS need to both study according to the syllabus and have an internship. In other words, everyday from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, they have to attend tutorial or PBL at faculty, go classes at the auditorium, and intern in the dentistry department of NUS. To me, the student’s lives are hectic, challenging, and interesting. Comparing CMU to the NUS’s syllabus, CMU is much more relaxing.

One more thing I like about NUS is their dress code. Students here have to project a good and appropriate professional image by being decently attired while on campus at NUS and NUH. Male have to wear long or short sleeved shirts with collars while females have to wear dresses or skirts of decent length. To me, it’s really important to build-up our professional image as early as possible.

Experience Gained from program

(1) Basic or Theories Needed for the Program

Dentistry in NUS is a four-year program. For the first year, student’s medical classes include anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, dental anatomy and histology, and cariology. For the second and third year, the course content includes operative dentistry, dental material, oral pathology, periodontic, prosthosdontic, removable partial denture, occlusion and endodontic. Starting from the second year, students have to study according to a syllabus, doing lab work, and having an internship with the hospital at the same time. For the final year, they have orthodontic, oral, and maxillofacial surgery.

My program can be divided into two parts, observation of the students in labs and clinics and also dentists in the hospitals. There was no lecture included in my attachment this time but they upon my request I had an opportunity to attend one lecture and one tutorial. Each student has their own laptop which they use to type notes while their professor is conducting the lesson. They do not need extra time after class to compile their notes because they are all done after the lecture.

After the lecture and tutorial I attended was completed, I concluded that the way the professor conducted the lesson were similar to the practice in all Asian universities.

(2) Techniques Needed During My Program
On the first day of my attachment, I went to dental center in NUS where all the general dental work took place. General dental works normally includes routine dental check-up, scaling, and some operative dentistry work. The clinic here is quite different from the hospital in our school. They have an independent room for each dental chair and the door is strictly enforced to be closed to ensure the privacy of patients. I was placed into one of the rooms and was free to ask the dentist any questions in between treatments of patient. The dentists here are always nice to share their experience during treatment.

In addition, I went to Oral and maxillofacial department, a place that I found interesting and challenging. On my first day I observed the simplest surgery,  the extraction of third molars. The dentist let the year-four interns conduct the surgery. The other day I saw the transplant of bone graft from hip to upper jaw. I watched many techniques being used and the esthetic standard of the dentist that is needed during the whole progress. I guess that is why we always define dentistry as a job that has the combination of art and science.

Furthermore, I went to the General Practice unit where the practice of endodontic, implant and periodontic took place. Since I haven’t learnt any of these subjects, there was not much I could learn. The greatest thing I experienced at NUSwas the implant process. I had never seen it before in my life. I witnessed the whole process. From the patients  signing a contract before the surgery to having the patient’s eyes covered up (to reduce the pain of the patient). I observed the whole process clearly and was really amazed with what the dentist had done.       

Problems Faced During the Program and Ways of Coping With Them

The greatest problem I faced during the attachment was the accommodation. The hostels at the school were fully booked and they had not reserved any place for me to stay, I had to find a place far away from the campus. A lot of time and money was spent on the transportation. Besides accommodation, the schedule arrangement was  a problem. The person-in-charge gave me a rough time table and I had to arrange all the time at the school by myself. Since I was not told about this before going, two days were wasted on arranging time and contacting the nurse-in-charge of every department. This was difficult for I was not familiar with the school and authority of NUS. 

However, it was a great experience overall despite some minor problems that brought some inconvenience to me.

(Chinese Version.)


The affiliated hospital in the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Photo with Dr. Zhang from the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
dental practice clinic  in National University of Singapore
dental practice clinic  in National University of Singapore