ABOUT THE NUSPS HOUSE SYSTEM
T he House System is a student-initiated idea brought forth by the NUS Pharmaceutical Society (NUSPS), which aims to build a sense of identity and camaraderie to the Pharmacy Department, and ultimately, to the pharmacy profession. This new House System was set up to promote interaction across various student cohorts, as well as with the academic staff.
The House activities complement the myriad of ongoing activities that they already have, ranging from those that create awareness about the pharmacy profession, to conducting health screenings for the public, serving the global community through overseas expeditions, and planning of orientation activities for incoming freshmen, among many others.
While the various sub-committees within NUSPS have a common objective to achieve its vision of “engaging, empowering and enhancing” the life of Pharmacy undergraduates, its outreach to the undergraduate population was still limited. The student leaders also realised that building a strong bond within the profession can even begin at the university undergraduate level. “Being a unique profession where our students will become our future colleagues, the House system will provide an avenue to enhance interaction and strengthen bonds among senior and junior undergraduates, as well as with their professors and lecturers,” said Dr Chng Hui Ting, one of the two faculty-in-charge who oversee the overall operation of the Houses. All pharmacy students and staff are each assigned to a specific House. Furthermore, each student will be mentored by an academic staff in the same House.
HOUSE NAMES AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE
According to Dr Kevin Yap, the other overall faculty-in-charge, the Houses are named in honour of eminent scientists or pharmacists who have made great contributions in the fields of pharmacy or biomedical sciences. Each House embodies selected virtues and values mirroring those of the prominent figures. An animal emblem that echoes these values is also adopted to enhance the students’ sense of identity.
The Houses (animal emblems), values and respective staff advisors are:
House Fleming (wolf) – empathy and compassion Staff advisors: Dr. Ong Pei Shi, A/Prof. Gigi Chiu
House Galen (ram) – avant-garde and ardour Staff advisors: Dr. Kevin Yap, A/Prof. Go Mei Lin
House Pasteur (owl) – resilience and determination Staff advisors: Dr. Yau Wai Ping, A/Prof. Rachel Ee
House Procter (lioness) – devotion and professionalism Staff advisors: Dr. Yap Kai Zhen, A/Prof. Eric Chan
House Scheele (orca) – innovation and conscientiousness Staff advisors: Dr. Chng Hui Ting, Asst. Prof. Wee Hwee Lin
In order to achieve the aims of the House System, each House is free to exercise its own creativity through the organising of various activities. Now in its second year running, a good mix of activities has been rolled out for students to inculcate and practise their House values. Some are casual and relaxed, such as barbecues, having a beach day or hiking along nature park trails. Others include nursing home visits infused with fun elements like making soy milk together with the elderly, workshop on creating awareness about saving street dogs, or a “Chill with my Prof” lunch session to get to know the professors better.
In addition, each House has a virtual presence on social media to cater towards busy students, such as those in their final year. For example, some Houses include weekly/bi-weekly features on their Facebook page, which feature interviews or personal reflections from the students and academic staff. Others have dedicated days of the week/month where members of the House are encouraged to don their House shirts to classes in order to promote their sense of identity and belonging.
STUDENTS’ REACTIONS TO THE HOUSE SYSTEM
The Pharmacy students have been very supportive of the House System either by participating in the events organised by the various House committees, or even just by the simple act of donning the House shirts on dedicated days. Many of them have appreciated the opportunities to interact with the academic staff out-of-class. Furthermore, they value the experience to learn more about life skills such as time, work and stress management in these informal settings. The inaugural Inter-House Summer and Winter events organised by NUSPS in 2016 where all five Houses came together saw a good turn-out of about 100 students and staff. The atmosphere was exuberant with friendly competition and great camaraderie. The House System has indeed provided a solid foundation on which bonds can be built and strengthened among students and staff. There is definitely a great potential for the House System to grow and provide students who enter NUS Pharmacy with a holistic university life!