By Caroline Chia, Class of 2016
The calendar writes 24th July 2012. It marks orientation day for the class of 2016 at Duke-NUS. The waitlist letter weighs heavily within my mind. With silence from the Office of Admissions, I figured that I would have to soldier on for another year and another application before I could begin to chase my dreams of pursuing medicine. Admittedly, there was an initial sense of disappointment and uncertainty; I could not help but question if I would be successful on my second attempt. However, amidst all the gloom, it was perfectly clear to me that the brick wall that lay ahead was just another test of my personal resolve and deep within me, a voice seemingly tells me that it would be surmountable with perseverance and faith. To me, the pursuit of medicine is a lifelong journey of endless learning and self-discovery which would invariably be peppered with triumphs as well as challenges. With this in mind, I took my seemingly unsuccessful maiden application in stride and weathered on.
I received an unexpected call from the Admissions Office around noon that very same day. The exact words that reverberated through my mind are now a blur – but without a doubt there was an air of excitement and congratulations within the message that unfolded. Miraculously, in what I consider as a twist of fate, it was news of my acceptance into the class of 2016.
I instantaneously found myself beaming from ear to ear. I got my offer! The thought that I can finally pursue my dreams made me both immensely ecstatic and grateful. I can say this that miracles do happen. For me, though delayed, it was nonetheless an opportune one.
As I pen this, I have spent close to one and a half months in medical school and everyday feels like a gift as I live out my dreams together with fifty-three other classmates who have started this journey of new beginnings with me.
Class of 2016
There are many aspects of the Duke-NUS educational experience which I find refreshing and would never trade for another.
The first is the concept of a flipped classroom, where our teachers live out the educational philosophy in which they do not bid us to enter their house of wisdom but rather lead us to the threshold of our minds [i] by challenging us to learn from our fellow classmates through articulating our doubts, seeking clarification amongst our peers and reasoning our thoughts before one another. In the classroom, our teachers serve to facilitate our mutual learning and intervene only when we fail to arrive at a consensus over specific perplexing concepts. Moreover, the integration of an appeal process offers us a chance to put forth our proposition when conflicting issues in knowledge arise, vividly underscoring the active two-way dialogue we have with our teachers as well as the recognition and appreciation that science and medicine as we know it is ever-changing in this age of relentlessly pursuing knowledge.
The diversity within our class make-up also adds to the excitement of being part of Duke-NUS. In a class where my peers come from a variety of different educational and cultural backgrounds, I find myself working in teams and conversing with researchers, nurses, pharmacists, healthcare administrators, and engineers, to name a few. On numerous occasions, the conversations I had traversed me into a world of science, clinical service, and healthcare policy. These exchanges were stimulating and left a lasting impression on me. Not only intellectually, the diverse cultural backgrounds also added vibrancy during social gatherings as I had the privilege to savour foreign cuisines, discuss and appreciate the social norms unique to specific cultures.
Team shot during Foundations Week
I recognize that these events that have happened thus far are only a glimpse into the richness of the medical profession. As I look forward to more memorable and enriching moments in my coming years at Duke-NUS, I hope to see more aspiring clinicians/clinician scientists joining me on this voyage of lifelong service where the practice of medicine is an art and a calling in which our hearts will be exercised equally with our heads [ii].
All the best with the applications!
[i] “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” - Kahlil Gibran
[ii] “The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head. Often the best part of your work will have nothing to do with potions and powders, but with the exercise of an influence of the strong upon the weak, of the righteous upon the wicked, of the wise upon the foolish.” - Sir William Osler