ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

A bit about me

Hi there! I'm Aaron, a first year student in the Duke-NUS MD programme. I graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical and Biomolecular) in 2015 and joined Duke-NUS right after.

An Engineer's Journey to Medicine

Graduating from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in 2015 with a Bachelor of Engineering

Since I was a kid, I had always been intrigued by the idea of being a doctor; a professional who is able to provide comfort, assurance and love for the sick. I decided on an engineering degree for my undergraduate studies because I did not know if I was ready to do Medicine then, and engineering had a good mix of my interest in the sciences and mathematics. I enjoyed what I studied in my undergraduate degree but the idea of Medicine always lingered at the back of my mind.

How I got interested in Medicine

There are a couple of reasons that led to my decision to do Medicine. During my undergraduate days, I enjoyed doing community work to help the needy and the sick. It was during those days when I realized how much joy I could give by interacting with the elderly, and saw the impact of forging connections with those in need of our time and help.

At the annual Action for Aids (AFA) charity dinner with my volunteer buddies

There were some who questioned me “Why not do social work? Why not work and donate to charities each year to help the needy?” I understood Medicine to be a career where I could be of help to others AND satisfy my appetite for medical knowledge. I had an inspirational mentor from NTU who guided me along and showed me the gaps that remained in Medicine and how research can help support the development of better treatment. As I matured during my undergraduate days, I found that I was ready to embark on the journey to Medicine.

Applying to medical school

I had sufficient help from seniors who were already enrolled in Duke-NUS, as well as the admissions team at Duke-NUS. They gave me advice on the key areas I should focus on in my application. I also had a senior who constantly reminded me of the most crucial part of pursuing medical education - Why study medicine? Is this really what I want in life? I focused my application around this central idea. I also thought about the key attributes that made a good physician. I love interacting with people from the community and could see myself pursuing a career in community medicine and outpatient care in the years to come.

white coat ceremony

Our Class of 2019 at the White Coat Ceremony

An engineer studying Medicine

I have always liked the idea of visualizing the human body as a dynamic chemical plant, with each organ representing a different unit operation. Often when I study the pathology of an organ, I tend to zoom out and look at the body from a bigger perspective, to see how a particular pathology can affect other systems in our body. I suppose this ability to visualize the body as an integrated system of different units has made studying medicine more interesting for me. It seems to be an effective way of learning and that’s one aspect of engineering that I’ve brought into medicine. Because engineers are trained to look at things from a different perspective, having engineers in class injects different ideas into our TeamLEAD discussions.

teamlead

TeamLEAD session in progress

Now that I am in my first year of the MD programme, I realize there are certain topics that my classmates from other disciplines may be stronger at. However, I believe that as long as I compensate with more time and effort, I will be able to catch up easily. 

Who says there’s no fun in medical school? At a rock-climbing event organized by MD students

Despite our tight schedule, medical school has also been enjoyable and fun. We have classmates from many different backgrounds and it makes student life much more interesting. My class is so musically talented that it is possible to start a Duke-NUS version of The Voice!

christmas party 2015

Celebrating together at the annual Christmas party organized by the Year 1s

What's most important is your motivation to pursue Medicine

I firmly believe that the most important thing to consider is your reason for wanting to do Medicine. Medical school is an intense journey and there will be moments of doubt, where you find yourself wondering why you put yourself through torture when you could have had a more comfortable life with the qualifications you already have. During these moments, it is your motivation for pursuing medicine that will pull you through. In my case, I am reminded of my purpose in Medicine whenever I interact with patients during my weekly community service at the Communicable Disease Centre. Having the opportunity to interact with the patients each week reinforces my belief that the human touch is more impactful than just drugs alone.

I am open to connecting with those interested to know more about Admissions so feel free to email me to ask any questions you may have at aarontan@u.duke.nus.edu