Professor Chee Yam Cheng, President of the Singapore Medical Council,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am pleased to join you for this afternoon’s Ceremony. We are gathered today to mark a significant milestone in your journey as doctors, as you take the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) Physician’s Pledge. We come together and witness each solemn commitment to uphold the values that are core to the medical profession – dedication, integrity, and respect.
2. Many members of the profession, who are here with us today, displayed these values during our fight against COVID-19. It was not easy, but they displayed professionalism, dedication, and grit. To these doctors, thank you for helping and keeping Singapore and Singaporeans safe.
3. Ladies and Gentlemen, before the taking of the pledge, I would like to share a few thoughts.
4. First, be dedicated in serving your patients, doing what it takes to support their health.
5. This means being adaptable and responding to the needs of our population. As many of you already know, Singapore is a rapidly ageing society. By 2026, one in five Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. In addition, like many developed countries, there is a rising prevalence of chronic diseases.
6. Therefore, we must not only be equipped to put out fires, but we must also prevent fires from occurring in the first place. This is why as a nation, we are shifting our focus from curative care to preventive health, through Healthier SG.
7. As medical professionals, each of you play an important role in Healthier SG. Whichever career pathway you choose to take, whether you are a family physician in the primary care sector, a hospital clinician, or a specialist. Healthier SG is a national strategy to transform our healthcare system but more importantly, it is a shift in our ways of seeing and practicing healthcare.
8. Second, constantly strive to add to your knowledge and skill, and pursue excellence. While many of you have gone through the rigor of a medical programme, never stop learning. The demographics and needs of society are changing. The medical fields you are in are constantly evolving. Pursue continuing medical education (CME) meaningfully, and it will help you keep abreast of the latest knowledge and inform your practice. I’m glad that professional bodies like the Singapore Medical Association, College of Family Physicians Singapore and the Academy of Medicine are providing courses for CME, and also continue to foster knowledge sharing and opportunities for collaboration.
9. More than a decade ago, we introduced structured postgraduate medical training through residency programmes. These programmes have undoubtedly borne fruit, equipping our system with a structure to train doctors, and enriching our doctors with invaluable knowledge and clinical expertise.
10. To sustain the quality of postgraduate medical education in Singapore, we have developed our very own accreditation framework to accredit postgraduate medical training programmes. Together with the development of local standards, these moves will further contextualise clinical training and ensure that postgraduate medical training programmes meet our high standards, training doctors to deliver quality healthcare for Singaporeans. I am pleased to announce the establishment of this framework, which is called the Accreditation of Postgraduate Medical Education Singapore (APMES).
11. As we transition to APMES, we are also introducing competency-based medical education through the implementation of Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs). These EPAs provide clear definitions of competencies that medical professionals must achieve at different stages of their training and the corresponding assessments are carefully selected for alignment to training outcomes. The aim is to foster a more learner-centred environment and facilitate timely feedback, ultimately supporting the development of trainees into stronger family physicians, hospital clinicians, and specialists.
12. Third, uphold your professionalism and integrity. The practice of medicine is not solely about acquiring knowledge and skills. It also carries a profound responsibility of ethical and responsible practice.
13. The trust that you build with your patients enables you to partner with them to improve their health and well-being. Never take this trust for granted. Strive towards excellence, serve your patients with care, and uphold high standards of professional practice and conduct. The SMC Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines are, and will continue to be your guide.
14. We will continue to support doctors in the meting out your duties with integrity. For instance, for the issue of informed consent, we convened a Workgroup to discuss the issue, and implemented its recommendations. One such recommendation was the establishment of clear legal standard on the duty to counsel, one which is both patient-centric, and informed by the opinion of a responsible body of doctors. Allowing for shared decision-making while maintaining trust between patients and physicians.
15. To better support doctors, SMC will be introducing a mandatory CME course in medical ethics from January 2024. Through the introduction of this course, we hope to support every doctor in handling ethical issues and dilemmas you face in the course of your work, with confidence and assurance.
The Pledge as Your Compass
16. Come what may in your journey ahead, the fundamental values hold true – dedication, integrity, and respect – values that are found in the Physician’s Pledge. Your commitment to uphold these values will impact you and your practice, and the well-being and lives of your patients.
17. May the solemn promises you make today be a steady compass guiding you in your career. I wish you the very best in your journey ahead. Thank you.