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Student Spotlight: Amelia Koe

23 Feb 2019
Amelia Koe (MD Class of 2018)

Amelia is the poster girl in our widely used 'Inspiring Hope, Impacting Lives' poster that you may have seen on our brochures and flyers

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

In 2004, I decided to spend a few years in The University of Melbourne, Australia, pursuing Bachelor of Biomedical Science. During this time, I did research in a neuroscience laboratory at the Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital. Inspired by research and my keen interest in behavioural neuroscience, I ended up spending more than a few years in Melbourne, continuing on to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience. I spent four years in translational research, investigating the mechanisms by which early life stress increases the vulnerability to developing epilepsy in adulthood. My research was conducted in rodent models of human conditions, and while contributing to the field of science, I often yearned to understand these conditions first hand in the human population and to see science in medicine with my own eyes. Nearing graduation, I decided that a medical degree was something I wanted to embark on next. I applied right after graduation, entering Duke-NUS a year later in 2014.

What made you apply to Duke-NUS?

As a graduate-entry programme, Duke-NUS was one of the few options available for people like me who chose medicine only later in life. In addition, with my background in research, I was drawn to the emphasis Duke-NUS put on research, and felt that it was something the school valued. A plus point was that my family was back in Singapore, and having spent close to ten years away from them, it was probably time to come home – I am, afterall, a Singaporean at heart!

You were the poster girl for our ‘Inspiring Hope, Impacting Lives’ poster, does the tagline ring true to your experience thus far as a medical student?

For sure! If medical school has taught me anything, it is that medicine goes far beyond an illness and its treatment. Many times, it’s about communicating with that one patient who has given up hope on their illness, or educating and inspiring that other patient to change their lifestyle. As part of our curriculum, we each identified a patient to follow-up with after discharge from hospital to help them with control of their chronic illness. I had the chance of getting to know a lady with chronic lower limb lymphoedema and thus had difficulty moving around, but who also had poorly-controlled diabetes. Over 8 months, I visited her in her home to learn more about her problems and together we came up with exercises she could do despite her immobility and advised on small changes to her diet and lifestyle, in the hopes of controlling her diabetes. Listening to my group mate’s experiences as well, it reinforced the fact that a lot about medicine is about the small things we do, and I’d like to think we each inspired hope and impacted someone’s life those 8 months.

You must be in the midst of your research in 3rd year, would you share a bit about what you’re working on?

Because I entered Duke-NUS with a PhD, I was fortunate to have the option of doing more electives in place of a research project for 3rd year. This gave me the opportunity to explore more electives that I had an interest in while gaining more clinical time.

Would you share a great experience or opportunity you’ve had at Duke-NUS?

Even though it has been two years, Camp Simba is the one experience that will probably stick with me for a long time. The camp is a 3-day-2-night stint, organised for children from families afflicted with cancer. I had the good fortune of being head facilitator, and together with over 40 medical students from Duke-NUS and YLLSoM, we made the impossible task of taking 62 children around Singapore possible. The children got to expend their energy at Sentosa, Wild Wild Wet, and even got to party it up at a student-run carnival! The best thing about Camp Simba is the long-lasting bonds formed with the kids – even after the camp, we had reunions at Adventure Cove and Universal Studios Singapore over the next year, so it was really nice to keep in contact and catch up with the kids we got to know during the camp.


Amelia with the Camp Simba 2015 committee

Want to know more? Contact Amelia at