Admissions Blog

As part of our "4 Years at Duke-NUS" series, we have invited a group of students to share their respective reflections as the curriculum year comes to an end and they move into the next academic year. Our first contributor is Hong King, a current MS1 student. Read on as he shares his experience in the first year of medical school.

I started the year feeling excited about learning the medical knowledge and clinical reasoning that would guide me towards becoming a competent clinician. On the other hand, I was a bit more ambivalent about working in teams because I imagined that the effort needed to make teams work could outweigh the potential benefits. In retrospect, I was in fact most thankful for the team experience because it gave me multiple opportunities to learn a little bit more about myself, and hopefully change for the better.

One of the incidents that made me reflect a lot happened during the routine TeamLEAD sessions, when my team of seven had to come to a consensus on a MCQ question. I remember being fairly certain about my answer, and I was trying my best to convince my teammates about the logic behind my choice. When I started repeating myself after a while, I realised that I had run out of ideas to convince my teammates. In my (irrational) attempt to make my teammates understand me, I resorted to raising my voice at a teammate. I was shocked at myself.

I apologised to my teammates, and tried to make sense of what had happened. It turned out that my teammate and I had started out on a completely different set of assumptions. This was hardly rocket science, and I ought to have realised that. I reflected a bit more and realised that I had gotten used to winning arguments using my own logic, especially from the two years of work prior to coming to this school, where the people I worked with usually shared the same set of starting assumptions. I needed to change.

Crucially, this incident also made me realise why I was not great at showing empathy to (standardised) patients during Practice Course. I had a habit of saying things according to my own logic, but now I started to learn to trace patients' emotions and thought processes so that I could respond to them more appropriately. It has been an insightful humbling experience that will aid me in many ways in the future.

With a certain level of self-awareness, active reflection, and openness to feedback, I believe all of us can garner a fair share of learning through experiences like these. I am truly glad that I have had a chance to improve myself, and am hopeful to learn more about myself and polish skills that will serve me in the years to come.

By Wu Hong King, Class of 2017