National University Health System

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The National University Health System (NUHS) (Chinese: 国立大学医学组织 ; pinyin: guŏ lì dà xue yī xue zǔ zhī; Malay: Sistem Kesihatan Universiti Kebangsaan) is an academic health science centre located in Singapore. It was established in January 2008 as a joint venture between the National University of Singapore and Singapore's MOH Holdings Pte Ltd. NUHS groups the National University Hospital (NUH) with the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health under a common governance structure in order to develop and promote academic medicine.

The NUHS focuses on combining medical education and training with extensive research to deliver research-proven clinical care to patients. In line with the collaborative focus of the NUHS, students from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health work alongside senior healthcare professionals from the NUH to develop their skills under close supervision and mentorship. Academic research carried out in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health also directly drives healthcare practices in the NUH.

History[edit]

The idea of a common governance structure first came about when Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan headed the National University Hospital. However, the idea was only revived some 20 years later after the Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Panel recommended that Singapore develop one or two strong academic medical centres to advance translational and clinical research. On 23 January 2008, the NUHS was incorporated.

Location[edit]

The corporate office of the NUHS is currently located at 1E Kent Ridge Road, NUHS Tower Block, Singapore 119228.

Health System Components[edit]

The NUHS consists of four main components:

  • The National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine was the first academic body in Singapore's history dedicated to tertiary education. It was first established on 3 July 1905 (Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School[1]) and is the oldest medical school in Singapore. In 2007, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for Life Sciences and Biomedicine placed NUS in 12th place. It was named the top university in Asia for medicine and was placed 18th globally in a new set of university rankings for medicine released on 4 May 2011 by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).
  • The NUS Faculty of Dentistry focuses on teaching, research, and practice of dentistry. The Faculty has three main departments: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Preventive Dentistry and Restorative Dentistry. The faculty began as Department of Dentistry within the King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1929. It was the first dental school to be established in a British colony in the east. In October 1949, King Edward VII College of Medicine amalgamated with Raffles College to form the University of Malaya. King Edward VII College of Medicine then became the Faculty of Medicine. On 31 August 1966, the Department of Dentistry attained Faculty status.
  • The NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health was established in October 2011. It builds upon 60 years of experience in research, teaching and practice as a Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Moving beyond the traditional domains of chronic disease aetiology and risk factors, the School emphasizes new technologies and methods to measure and monitor exposure and disease, as well as new approaches to develop and implement public health programmes and policies. With a distinctly Asian focus, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health's existing strengths include chronic disease epidemiology, statistical genomics and workplace health as well as a well-developed Master of Public Health programme.
  • The National University Hospital (NUH) is a specialist hospital and the principal teaching hospital of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

In 2004, NUH became the first Singapore hospital to receive Joint Commission International (JCI) Accreditation, an international stamp for excellent clinical practices in patient care and safety. It was also the first hospital in Singapore to receive a triple ISO certification concurrently for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems in 2002

Other Institutions[edit]

In addition to the National University Hospital and the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, the NUHS also has oversight of a few specialized medical institutions. The National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS), is a key centre for the treatment and management of complex cardiovascular diseases with focus areas on heart failure, congenital heart disease, acute coronary syndrome and vascular disease. The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore, (NCIS) offers a broad spectrum of cancer care and management that ranges from public education, screening and early diagnosis, to treatment and long-term health maintenance. The Khoo Teck Puat Advanced Surgery Training Centre (ASTC) is the first one-stop training centre in Southeast Asia to equip surgeons from the region, the Middle East, and Europe, with the latest skills.

Objectives[edit]

The NUHS' tripartite mission is the pursuit of excellence in the areas of clinical care, research and education:

Clinical Care: Besides providing tertiary education for medical students, medically trained education professionals also work as medical practitioners in the National University Hospital. The NUHS provides a total of 25 medical specialties, including 3 dental specialties. They are:

Since its formation, the NUHS has pioneered a number of medical breakthroughs. This includes performing the first gynaecologic robot-assisted cancer and endoscopic surgery in South East Asia.[2]

Research: The NUHS' research focus includes cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, neurocognition and infectious diseases. In 2008, an NUHS research team discovered RUNX3, a gatekeeper gene which prevents the uncontrolled growth of cells leading to colorectal cancers.[3] Colorectal cancer is ranked as the No. 1 killer in Singapore.

Education: One of the main aims of the NUHS is to provide education for Singapore's medical students. The NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine currently offers two full-time undergraduate programmes, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (M.B., B.S) and Bachelor of Science (Nursing), which is conducted by the Alice Lee School of Nursing Studies.

In line with its mission to combine education with research, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine students are able to conduct undergraduate research under the supervision of the School's staff. This is done through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme.

The NUHS depends heavily on external funding for most of its research projects. To date, the NUHS has won several major research grants, including the S$25m Translational and Clinical Research Flagship programmes on the study of gastric cancer as well as metabolic diseases (diabetes and obesity). The grants are funded by the National Research Foundation.

Corporate Management[edit]

Since its incorporation, the NUHS was headed by Professor Tan Chorh Chuan as Chief Executive. In December 2008, neurologist and academic Associate Professor Benjamin Ong took the helm and succeeded Professor Tan in view of the latter's appointment as President of the National University of Singapore. Internationally renowned medical oncologist and academic Professor John Wong took on the appointment of Deputy Chief Executive of the NUHS.[4]

After five years at the helm, Associate Professor Benjamin Ong stepped down as Chief Executive in January 2014 and was appointed Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health. Taking over from him as the new Chief Executive of the NUHS was its current Deputy Chief Executive, Professor John Wong. Associate Professor Yeoh Khay Guan was then appointed as Deputy Chief Executive, NUHS, while keeping his current position as the Dean of the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

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