Wan Ling Woo graduated with a Masters in Gerontology from Singapore University of Social Sciences in 2014 and was awarded the Alice Lim Memorial Fund Silver Award. She also has a B.Sc (Hons) in Lifesciences (Concentration in Biomedical Science) from the National University of Singapore. She has been working with Yishun Health (Alexandra Health Pte Ltd) from 2009. In 2009 to 2014, she was doing operations with the Department of Geriatric Medicine, in both in and outpatient settings. In 2014, she moved to doing operations, planning, development and evaluation in the area of population health and community transformation. Currently, she is involved in various community-based programmes, including Advance Care Planning, Mini-Medical School, Share-a-Pot (a frailty prevention programme for community dwelling seniors), health and functional screening, and others. She has a special interest in understanding how to sustain behavioral changes in lifestyles within the population, and how health can be brought in innovative ways to the community.
Mini-Medical School (MMS): Building Activated Communities through Education
The MMS concept was developed in 1989 to enhance relationships between medical schools and its surrounding community. MMS in Singapore was first piloted at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in 2013. Till date, we have delivered 12 runs, averaging 250 participants per run. There are over 1,750 unique students, aged between 9 and 89.
One success factor has been in how MMS has gone back to teaching public basic science, and having clinicians share knowledge in the way they learnt it as medical students. Encouraging people to understand concepts behind diseases can achieve adaptive expertise. Feedback forms with some questions seek to elicit whether students have the intent to turn knowledge into action are distributed every run.
In “Metabolic Syndrome” (January 2017), 254 out of 256 responded that attending the programme had encouraged them to take more interest in their health. When asked to translate what they had learnt in the programme to actions in daily living for themselves and their family, many provided action-based responses. In “Epidemic!!” (May 2017), 117 out 248 students returned scripts for a Reflective Learning Assignment. Many students were able to relate the application of knowledge to
their behavior and actions. In “Good Life, Good Will, Good End” (Jan 2018), 53 out of 327 students returned scripts for an assignment “Letter to the Stars”. In this assignment, students had to create a letter or an artwork with a short narrative on the following: (i) A condolence letter, (ii) Letter to their deceased loved one, or (iii) their own eulogy. The exercise provided an avenue for the attendees to contemplate existential issues relating to life, death and dying. Recurring themes of love, gratitude and pain, confronting mortality and leaving a legacy surfaced from the letters.
A feature in adaptive expertise is the ability to apply knowledge to solve problems. We believe that MMS has, in addition to raising health literacy, the effect of activating communities to manage their own health. This understanding has provided the impetus to advocate for a culture of self-activated communities, and contribute to building a supported self-management ecosystem.