SMA Charity Fund
   
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APPLY FOR THE SMA MEDICAL STUDENTS’ ASSISTANCE FUND

From our Chairperson


As doctors, we have been given a unique honour and privilege: to care, heal and cure. We have benefitted from a long tradition passed down from the senior colleagues who taught and mentored us. Let us give back to society and inspire the next generation of the profession. SMA Charity Fund (SMACF) turns four in 2017. As a young charity, we have been working hard to anchor our social causes, aiming to contribute to better healthcare, and to create work with a social impact that ripples through society. To achieve this, our focus has been to build and strengthen the cornerstone of our healthcare system – our young doctors.

The future of healthcare depends on the medical students of today. At SMACF, we remain focused on the issues affecting them in their earlier years. One of the key concerns is their rising tuition fees and, concurrently, the growing debt among students. Apart from tuition fees, many other variable costs such as that of medical textbooks and instruments, together with transportation and daily living costs, make up the true cost of a medical education.

Medical students today face a great financial burden. In Singapore,tuition fees for a medical degree range from $127,000 to $172,200 for a Singapore citizen (after government subsidy) over five years, four times more than the tuition fee for a non-medical degree. Tuition fees have also increased by 50% over the last decade. Given the rising cost of living, the financial load of medical students is multiplied, especially for those from a lower socio-economic strata. Out of necessity, these students often seek out part-time employment to help the family or reduce their study debt, at the cost of their medical studies. According to a survey carried out in 2014, many students are involved in some form of part-time work during their medical school years and 37% of the students said this part-time work had negatively impacted their medical studies. This is of great concern to us. To nurture future medical professionals, it is important that our medical students of today are able to focus on their studies without undue financial burden.

SMACF has been working with the three medical schools to ensure that help is given to students where it is most needed. Over the last three years, the percentage of our bursary recipients from families with a per capita income of less than $1,000 has increased from 11% to 13%. The most significant change was seen in the group with a per capita income of $1,000 to $1,499, which has grown from 13% to 19% of our total award recipients. Although these students also receive various financial awards, any assistance often goes straight into paying their high tuition fees, with little left for living expenses. The additional amount these students receive through our SMA Medical Students’ Assistance Fund (SMA-MSAF) bursary helps them to go the distance.

Our funds go directly to our cause. Of the amount we raise, 70% goes into helping our medical students. We want to see them develop into future generations of medical doctors who have both the ‘hardware’ and ‘heartware’, and who will impact healthcare for the benefit of all. But we can only achieve what we set out to do with your unfailing support. It is of concern that yearly donations to SMACF are decreasing. The next three years will be a critical phase for us: funds held in NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) for the SMA-MSAF bursary are projected to be depleted by financial year 2020. At the current bursary approval rate, the disbursement from the fund is about $150,000 each year. This means that SMACF requires a net operating surplus of at least $150,000 each year to ensure that it can continue to meet the needs of eligible medical students.

We appreciate your support over the past years and continue to seek your help for the challenges ahead. The future of healthcare in Singapore depends on our medical students today. As one united profession and community, we can shape the future of the medical profession through what we give today.

 

Prof Wong Tien Yin
Chairperson
SMA Charity Fund Board of Directors
31 December 2016