What does one learn from a teacher? Not what is in the textbook but the personal wisdom of the teacher, says Dr Chew Beng Keng (’58), who graduated from the University of Malaya, the predecessor of the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Dr Chew, who set up the “Gordon Arthur Ransome Medal and Prizes in Internal Medicine” at NUS’ Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, learnt much from Dr Gordon Arthur Ransome, whom he knew over a period of 25 years as a teacher and as a supervisor. Dr Chew says, “Dr Ransome was a gentleman. He was ethical, very helpful and led a life that was fully dedicated to his patients.”
Dr Ransome came to Singapore in 1938 and devoted most of his life to both patients and teaching undergraduates and postgraduate doctors. One of the founders of the Academy of Medicine in Singapore, he was also Professor of Medicine in the then University of Singapore, NUS’ predecessor. Dr Ransome laid the foundations of postgraduate medical training in Singapore and many of Singapore’s famous doctors trained under him. Such was the significance of his contributions to medicine in Singapore, that the Academy created the Gordon Arthur Ransome Oration to honour his life.
“In setting up the ‘Gordon Arthur Ransome Medal and Prizes in Internal Medicine’, it is not only my hope that the younger medical students be reintroduced to Dr Ransome, but also that they will come to appreciate and honour the teachers who have made a difference in their lives.” Dr Chew strongly believes in the importance of a teacher’s role, which he says is often forgotten.
Dr Chew Beng Keng previously set up the Chew Beng Keng Bursary at NUS, which supports medical students. Born into a simple family of five children, none of his siblings studied beyond secondary school. But thanks to a life-changing gift in the form of a state scholarship, Dr Chew came to Singapore to study medicine, where he forged life-long friendships during his stay at the Dunearn Road Hostel.
Dr Chew says, “I feel very happy to be able to return what I received and I want to acknowledge those who gave to me. I give because helping these students gives me pleasure.”