Admissions Blog

Liwen Lee (MD Class of 2020)

At the Duke-NUS White Coat Ceremony in 2016 

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I studied at the University of Edinburgh for my undergraduate degree (in Medical Sciences) and graduated in the summer of 2016, a few weeks later I started my term in Duke-NUS!

So what got you interested in Medicine?

I was a part of St John Ambulance when I was in secondary school, where I not only learnt some medical knowledge but also the value of service. I realised I was super excited learning about the human body/medical conditions and I relished every opportunity given to me to serve as a First Aider. I knew then that I wanted to bring this one step further to pursue Medicine.

So how did you find out about Duke-NUS?

I probably first learnt about Duke-NUS in the newspaper, when its opening was first announced. As I found out more about the school's innovative teaching methods, curriculum and research focus, I felt aligned with the school's mission, which I found to be very dynamic and forward thinking. It also helped that the school has some pretty cool YouTube videos. I attended an Open House, where I once again felt the mission of the school come to life in the form of talks and interaction with faculty. That solidified my decision to apply to Duke-NUS, and I really encourage people who want to apply to attend one to decide for yourself.

What was it like coming back after 4 years in Edinburgh?

After just 4 months in the MD programme, I can say that the curriculum is tough. Super tough. I heard from seniors previously about how rigorous this programme was but I think it never adequately prepares you until it hits you. And being in Singapore again after 4 years meant that I had to say bye-bye to the generous work-life balance I used to have in Edinburgh. It's really not about time-management, but priority-management.

Would you share a memorable experience you’ve had at Duke-NUS so far?

There are so many that come to mind, even though I'm only a few months in, so I shall have to give a list. Classes are more engaging than any you'd have in a usual undergraduate course and we've had inspiring people share perspectives and the struggles they have as patients/doctors. We're the only school in Singapore to have cadaveric dissection classes and the seniors also organised a suturing workshop for us in October! The Year 1s have been involved in a health screening opportunity to serve and practice interacting with patients (also hone your mandarin/dialect speaking skills). Because we're such a small school, there is so much support from faculty, staff and seniors for student-led initiatives, including a school-wide Thanksgiving Event that my class helped to organise. All that and so much more in a span of a few months!

Liwen and her classmates participating in the CDAC Health Screening 

What are your aspirations for the future?

To truly put the needs of my patients first and to always remain a caring and compassionate doctor.

Any advice for prospective students?

My friend recently asked me if it was worth it (after noticing how much I had to study, how tiring it was, how I had to say no to so many social events, less family time, etc) but I can say that it is worth every single second of the experience. Honestly. And my advice to prospective students would be to consider carefully if this path is for you, to challenge your motivations for being a doctor, attend events and speak to students/faculty/current doctors. And if you're not fazed by the rigour of Medicine and in fact feel more motivated to take on the challenges ahead, then my advice is to work hard, keep trying and don't let anything or anyone (yourself included) stand in the way of achieving what you've set your heart out to accomplish. All the best!

Still want to know more? Contact Liwen at