If the question “How to do better for our patients?” sits in your heart- you have the key attribute to be scholarly.
– Dr Ong Hwee Kuan, Principal Physiotherapist, Singapore General Hospital

Scholarly work, commonly understood as academic publications that are peer-reviewed or refereed, typically phrases a clinical issue into what, why and how.   It also outlines the logic and arguments that leads to a certain conclusion, based on collected data. 

Thanks to the various enabling factors such as changing culture, availability of expert consult, and training resources from AM•EI and AMRI, we have seen blooming growth in the scholarly work among SingHealth’s AHPs.   Using the SGH Physiotherapy department as an example, the number of peer-reviewed publications between 2010 and 2014 is four times that of the preceding nine years. The AHPs in SingHealth should also be pleased to learn that 178 abstracts were submitted for the coming SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress, a stark increase from the 68 submissions in 2012. 

It is not uncommon to hear the perception that scholarly work is only meant for PhDs in serious academic research.   Whilst this narrow perception has its truth, the boundary of scholarly work is certainly not confined within the ivory towers or for the elite few. 

In fact, the majority of the abstract submitted are not from the works of “expert professors”, but by practising clinicians with a scholarly inclination.   One may argue that an impactful scholarly work in healthcare setting is one where clinical practice informs research and in return, research transforms clinical practice.   While scholarly work is more likely produced by experts (or budding experts) in a particular field, let’s not forget that knowledge acquisition is progressive and the term scholarly also implies a curious attitude that is fondness of learning.   If the question “How to do better for our patients?” sits in your heart- you have the key attribute to be scholarly. 

The increase in volume of scholarly activities does not come from vacuum.   To draw an analogy of baking a “scholarly work cake”, we need time (the flour), manpower (the sugar), finances resource (the eggs), perseverance (the butter) and curiosity (the leaveners).   Of course the success rate would be much higher (and hopefully with lower frustration) if you are guided by a master baker. 

To continue a successful and meaningful Academic Medicine pursuit, we need a tighter and more structured system to equip and enable our AHPs.   The challenges that AHPs face in balancing clinical and scholarly activity are substantial and real.   We need to be mindful of the necessary investments and also the need to develop a system to recognise and award outstanding scholarly activity.

Join our AHPs at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress on 5-6 September to listen to Prof Mary J. Lovegrove (OBE), who will share her UK experience in the cost-benefit of Academic Medicine, and tips on how AHPs should be equipped to support the academic pursuit.

Look out for other Congress’ highlights in the next Tomorrow’s Medicine issue! Visit www.singhealthacademy.edu.sg/sdc for more information.