​Academic Clinical Programs (ACPs) are providing real benefits to the practice of Medicine. Hear it from a leader who was Academic Chair of an ACP and is now the Group Director of Academic Medicine.

This time around, as they saw the successes of ACPs, clinicians themselves are asking for more ACPs to be formed.

In May 2011, Professor Tan Kok Hian was appointed Academic Chair of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology (OBGYN) ACP, one of three pioneer ACPs formed during the early stages of the SingHealth Duke-NUS partnership. 

One of the first things he did was test the ground. A survey was conducted through the ACP faculty and staff, and the results only spurred his enthusiasm for the exciting journey ahead.

“I was happy to discover that our staff were very positive on having a learning and innovation environment in this Academic Medicine partnership, but there will be an issue if the resources are not readily available,” he shared. 

Prof Tan’s staff were not the only ones who were worried about resources.   A cluster-wide engagement yielded similar responses.   The whole concept of ACPs was new and daunting, and it was a bold step for many to go beyond familiar territory. 

Three years on and seven more ACPs formed, the buzz word is still “resources”.   Only this time around, as they saw the successes of ACPs, clinicians themselves are asking for more ACPs to be formed so that they can synergise and receive funding and infrastructural support to further develop their craft in Medicine.

Now Group Director of Academic Medicine, Prof Tan has a birds’ eye view of all ACPs.   He sees the encouraging trend and feels the strong buzz and pulse of ACPs.  “There is recognition of the value of ACPs and what clinicians, united in their specialties, can do to improve their work.  

These are synergies that allow the ACPs to grow – funding, collaborations, critical mass, research and education between SingHealth, Duke-NUS and across institutions. 

“The potential is enormous, both within and across specialties,” he added, “Especially with the launch of the Radiological Sciences (RADSC) ACP, the tenth ACP to date and arguably the most complex.”

With six departments across five institutions working together, its formation is a key milestone in the continued growth of the whole ACP framework. Prof Tan explained, “Other ACPs can harness what RADSC ACP brings and further expand what they have already done.   This is a key ACP that supports and complements many institutions. It allows more people with different strengths to rise up and build their passion in clinical care, research and/or education.”

Unlike the initial impressions, it is clearer now that not everyone is expected to do everything in Academic Medicine. Structures have been established and evolved to ensure that our academicians are optimally supported.   Staff can develop and capitalise on their strengths to contribute to improving patients’ lives in a meaningful way.

“In fact, we have developed a remarkable framework for Academic Medicine which allows sustainable funding, integrated synergy and protected time. 

“More synergies will arise from leveraging on the research and education capabilities of Duke-NUS. Effective joint institutions have been set up to move this along, together” said Prof Tan. 

With structures in place and resources well on the way, clinicians in the ACPs are in a better position to discover, integrate, apply and teach for the improvement of our patients’ care.