Zhejiang University School of Medicine Students' experience sharing(详情)

Ian Chew(周毅恩), Singapore

2020-08-17   |  

My Medical School Story – 周毅恩(Ian Chew)


(Above) International Students Welcome Ceremony 

– Student Body Representative Speech 

Yesterday marked the last class I took for this semester. More significantly, it marked the completion of my third year in the MBBS program, the storied halfway milestone of a medical student’s formative education. As I look back at the many Wechat moments and conversations accumulated since school commenced back in 2017, I could not help but relive the many instances of sheer elation and excitement that has coloured my short stint at Zhejiang University.

Lessons for life

One of the most striking features of an MBBS education in Zhejiang University is the multicultural environment you step into from day one. I encountered Professors from Europe, seniors from Africa and batchmates from the Middle East. However, what I found most remarkable is this: that amidst this myriad of ethnicities and culture, there is a singleness of mindset to be the best doctor we could be.

As with other occupations, the knowledge and training received in university is of paramount importance. This importance is perhaps even more pronounced in medical training, where there is a direct impact on the life and death of our patients. And to me, this is where the education I have received really stands out.

Inside the four walls of the classroom, the rigorous curriculum has thoroughly prepared me for the future demands of a healthcare professional. With an integrated assessment model, students can obtain timely feedback from curriculum instructors on our areas of strength and weaknesses. The greater self-awareness enables us to constantly and efficiently improve specific areas of theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

In terms of clinical training, Zhejiang University has been ahead of the curve. The university pays significant attention on the application of theoretical knowledge in real-life scenarios. Thus, instead of plastinated bodies, students get to learn anatomy from the tried-and-tested method of dissecting cadavers.

Through the “Early Exposure to Clinic” module, direct clinical experience is also present from the very first year of medical school. For me, the mere mention of this course strikes a deep chord. It was during this course where I performed Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in a real-life setting for the first time.

During one of the hospital rounds, I was suddenly approached by the relative of a patient whose heart had just stopped beating. Instinctively, I performed CPR on the patient and together with a team of doctors who had rushed to the scene, we managed to rescue the patient in time.

I will never forget the sense of relieve and satisfaction I felt that day. To be able to apply one’s medical skills to heal and to save has always been my mission. Having such an experience while still in medical school is priceless. This was only possible because the university emphasized direct clinical experience from the very beginning of our training.   

Outside the classroom, the passion and professionalism of my teachers has positively shaped my understanding of China and the working world. It is not just the medical education that shines. The curriculum’s inclusion of Chinese language and culture courses has been an irreplaceable element to my learning journey in Zhejiang University.

It will be remiss of me to not mention the time when my Survey of China teacher, Ms. Yu, brought an entire box of salted mooncakes for the lesson on China’s cuisine. The mooncakes, from our teacher’s hometown, added a memorable – not to mention tasty - dimension to the regular classroom lesson.

The best lessons offered by an educational institution are often not based on the formulas or passages found in textbooks, but rather, the life lessons and values inculcated in each student. In placing equal emphasis on both individual and academic growth, Zhejiang University has truly excelled in this respect. It has and continues to provide me with not just schooling, but an education.


(Above) Early Exposure to Clinic Module,

2nd Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine

An all-rounded doctor

Conventional clichés about medical students often depict us as joyless, over-worked individuals in white lab coats. At Zhejiang University, this could hardly be further from the truth. Students are frequently encouraged to pursue their extra-curricular interests and given all possible guidance to achieve their goals.

Seeking a holistic education, I too took part in the large array of activities on offer. I was as an actor in a traditional Chinese opera which was aired on live television and am also an editor for the university’s sole English publication, Connections. Additionally, I was allowed to serve as the Teaching Assistant for a course taught at the School of International Studies.

While awards are never the primary objective of joining any activity, I was deeply humbled by the recognition and accolades that I received. In my younger years, I naively believed that entrepreneurship and innovation was solely for tech-savvy, gung-ho individuals.

However, after receiving awards in several start-up competitions: including the championship prize for a start-up competition at Alibaba Innovation Centre and the first prize at the Pugongying Business Competition, I developed a greater sense of belief in my entrepreneurial ability. These awards had enabled me to discover previously hidden skill sets and had given me a platform to develop these skills. 

For students who wish to pursue extra-curricular activities more closely aligned with their medical studies, there were also many research groups available for students to contribute to. Throughout my two research stints at the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) research group at the Qiushi Academy for Advanced Science, and the Virtual Reality Lab research group at the School of Psychology, I got the opportunity to try out cutting edge experimental techniques and learn new skills.

Despite being highly sought after in academia and media – for instance, the BCI research group had their work featured on CCTV – the professors at both labs never felt distant. And even though I was not an official post graduate student of theirs, they would always make time to personally guide and teach me. All members of the research group were treated with respect and as part of a bigger scientific family.

To me, the university’s focus on developing all-rounded doctors has prepared me for a dynamic and innovation driven future. This segues well with the current industry trends, and allows me to create and add value in my future endeavours.

(Above) Pottery Making during field trip to Jingdezhen, Jiang Xi Province


Globalization at its finest

At Zhejiang University, there aren’t just opportunities to learn and hone your skills in China. To meet the growing need for university graduates with prior international exposure, the university has signed many agreements for students to take part in joint programs with overseas universities and international organizations.

I have been fortunate to be allowed to join the local Chinese students in two such opportunities – one was a program at the United Nations International Labour Organization’s International Training Centre in Italy and the second program was at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

In both programs, I had the opportunity to supplement classroom knowledge with discussions and presentations by leading members of industry and academia. The exchange of knowledge and camaraderie forged with my overseas peers are some valuable takeaways that I will treasure. The Global Youth Leadership Academy Award that I received in Italy and the Exceptional Achievement Award I had attained during the Modern Medicine and Artificial Intelligence Program at Cambridge University were a nice bonus to me.

As anti-globalization voices grow louder in the world, I believe that it is important, now more than ever, to showcase the benefits of globalization and cross-border collaboration. And I am heartened that Zhejiang University has always championed greater transnational collaboration to improve learning outcomes and further enrich its curriculum.


(Above) Group Photo at the United Nations Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

Home is where the heart is

Though it may only have been three short years since I began my journey in Zhejiang University, the campus, the people and the way of life has become an inseparable part of me. In many ways, China and Zhejiang University has become my second home. 

And as the world battles against COVID-19, I wish China every success in containing the virus and producing a vaccine for the global community. I have every confidence that China’s medical system and medical education will continue to scale greater heights. And I look forward to returning to campus for the autumn semester, optimistic that the semester ahead will be a continuation of my meaningful and memorable story in Zhejiang University.

(Above) Academic Scholarship Ceremony


Ian Chew(周毅恩), Singapore

Current student, Class of 2017, MBBS

Win the Zhejiang University Scholarship

Team leader, Global Communication (International), Zhejiang University

Best Individual Speaker Award, International Debate Tournament (Suzhou)

Global Youth Leadership Academy Award, UN-Zhejiang University Global Engagement Program