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 fourth contributor is  Dr Joshua Chua (Class of 2014). Read on as he shares his experience in the fouth year of medical school.

Advice for the Fourth Year

So now you’re in your final year; you’re striding into wards with confidence exuding, casually waving at professors and hitting questions out of the park like a boss… well at least some of your classmates seem like they are..

Fourth year of medical school can be quite an exciting and positive year, on one hand, there is quite a bit of stress over residency applications, on the other hand, its the part of your medical school education where you get to be more relaxed and have more control over your time.

While it might seem that the amount of available time is relatively abundant, it would be good to prioritize on a few things

Invest in your career

One of the most important exercise of a fourth year student is her application to residency.

Don’t forget to continually make your interest known to the departments you are applying to. Drop by to have chats and coffee with faculty in those departments.  It’s also probably one of your last few chances to go into OT and follow senior consultants at clinics before housemanship responsibilities keep you permanently in the wards. So learn as much as you can while you have access to your tutors. While in your sub-internships, do be proactive. What you learn here can help smoothen the path into your post graduate year one. - do not discount the possibility that you may get thrown to handle 20-30 patients by yourself on your first day! (Yes. That’s a real possibility.. trust me…)

And when preparing for Step 2, though there may not be a lot of stress to perform well, do try to internalize the information as you may not get such a dedicated time to study in the future.

At the same time, do not neglect your academic pursuits. It may be a while before you get a chance to pursue much research in your houseman year. So take full advantage of the research conference scholarships - send your abstracts and present at meetings if you have not already done so. And this goes without saying, it would be an excellent excuse to take the opportunity to travel at your conference’s destination. Go ahead, you deserve it!

Invest in your juniors

As a senior, you now have the responsibility of ensuring your juniors carry the good reputation of the school you’ve cultivated in your past three years. Or if it was damaged by a dumb comment you made during rounds, its probably time to repair that. So as a 4th year student in the wards, do remember what it was like when you first hit the wards and take time out to orientate and teach the juniors in your team. You might find that it is incredibly rewarding and that it helps reinforce your learning.

As a 4th year student, you are also a precious commodity in various community health screenings and events, it’ll be a great time to volunteer of even lead some of theses events.

Invest in yourself

Lastly, this is by far the most important - when you start your first year of work, it will be incredibly busy and exhausting, you will have hardly anytime to take care of yourself and your interest. So this is the time to maximise your time on things that matter to you : Friends, Family, Hobbies, Community work. Things that you used to take for granted as a student can suddenly become a rare commodity in your HO year. For example, your weekend morning activities like church, or sports will most likely be eaten up by every other weekend rounds. And on Saturday nights, your friends become too easily replaceable by the embracing warm hug of your pillow.

So this is your opportunity to block time from your schedule to hang out with family and relatives, to spend late nights with your friends and take up that knitting class you’ve secretly wanted to attend…or not

And don’t forget to plan your graduation trip early - this would be your last chance for a while where you can be in a carefree state for about 1 whole month - so plan it early so that you can utilize every single day of that vacation till the last second you are chained to the hospital.

Have a great final year and remember to make every moment count!

Remember to plan your grad trip eary and see the world!

By Dr Joshua Chua, Class of 2014