ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

Sophie Zhou, MD Class of 2018 

sophie student spotlight

Sophie (front on the right) and her Team 10 buddies

Tell us about your background.

I completed my undergraduate degree back in China, Sichuan University, majoring in biomedical science. During my final year research project, I was mentored by a renowned clinician scientist who was a hematologist by training. He was an excellent and nurturing mentor who taught me to pursue scientific questions which could bring impact to patients’ lives. With years of experience in clinical practice and patient care, he frequently provided constructive input to my work, giving me his unique perspective on the clinical relevance of my research. With his encouragement and recommendation, I went on to do a PhD thesis on the pathogenesis of asthma in Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at National University of Singapore.

How did you come to know about the Duke-NUS MD programme and what made you apply?

With the next admissions cycle almost upon us, final year MD student Qimeng Gao shares some of the common pitfalls in applying to medical school to help our admissions blog readers. Qimeng, from the Duke-NUS MD Class of 2018, is a student reviewer in our MD admissions process and currently pursuing research projects related to transplant immunology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. 

pitfall applying to medical school

Before joining Duke-NUS Medical School, Lim Ka Keat, a 3rd year PhD student in the Integrated Biology and Medicine (IBM) programme, worked for a number of years as a project manager in a research center in Kuala Lumpur. Although he developed an interest in drug discovery research during his undergraduate days as a Pharmacy student, it was his work experience of managing research projects on prescription and medication utilization that opened his eyes to the big picture of healthcare and health systems, and inspired him to explore the area of health policy.

With the encouragement of very supportive bosses, colleagues, pharmacy lecturers and his family, he first undertook a Masters in health policy and health economics in London. Thereafter, he decided to pursue his interest further, and applied to do a PhD here at Duke-NUS Medical School. We interview him to learn more about his research and its relevance to our part of the world.

ka keat phd integrated biology and medicine

Ka Keat presenting his research work

How did you come to know about the Duke-NUS IBM programme?

Tomasz Jakub Merta, a Polish graduate from New York University Shanghai, attended our inaugural run of the Prehealth Experiential Programme (PrEP) last year, eventually applied to the Duke-NUS MD programme, and will join our class this year. We interview him to learn more about his PrEP experience.

Visit https://www.duke-nus.edu.sg/admissions/prep to learn more and apply.

Tomasz (2nd from left) and his groupmate during a TeamLEAD session in PrEP

Tell us about your background and how you ended up in Singapore, coming from Poland and then China. 

I decided to become a doctor instead of a soccer player at the end of junior high school. The idea of studying abroad arose in my mind as an opportunity to explore the world, especially since I hadn’t been able to travel much before. Even then, I never expected that I would come to Asia. I was applying to universities in the US, New York University in particular, when I learnt about the newly-established NYU campus in Shanghai. I decided to apply, and ended up receiving an offer. Following the admitted students’ weekend in Shanghai I fell in love with the city and knew I had to stay.

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Clinicians of the future will not only need to practice medicine, but also play a role in improving the practice of medicine. As a graduate-entry medical school, Duke-NUS trains clinicians who come to medical school with a foundation in an undergraduate discipline such as science, engineering and social sciences. This adds valuable diversity into medical practice in Singapore, and introduces fresh perspectives on overcoming challenges in healthcare.

Second year Duke-NUS medical student, Sabina Sayeed, is one example of a future clinician who is a keen educator. Even before joining Duke-NUS, Sabina took up numerous teaching and advisory positions at her alma mater, Wellesley College, where she mentored peers in her residential hall, provided career advice to other students, and served as a supplemental instructor in an introductory biology course. Outside of school, she also participated in community health initiatives at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, and the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. We interview her to learn more.

Tell us about your background. What led you to pursue Medicine? 

We speak to a group of MD students to learn more about a health screen they conducted last year.

By: Jonathan Caleb Quek, Bhavya Allena, Patrisha C. Lazatin and Aditya Subramaniam

screening migrant workers duke-nus

Screening migrant workers

Tell us more about the health screen your college is involved in.

Mediserve is a health screen for migrant workers held on 13 May 2017 in Tai Seng Community Centre. We, then first year medical students from Benjamin Sheares College, organised the screen in partnership with HealthServe and Paya Lebar Methodist Church. Our seniors guided us in the planning process and oversaw the consultations that we had with the patients.

Apart from the help from our college masters, Prof Paul Michael Yen and Dr Yong Wei Sean, we were also fortunate enough to work with the HealthServe team and two volunteer doctors from Paya Lebar Methodist Church, Dr Yvonne Loh, a regular volunteer doctor at the HealthServe Geylang clinic, and Dr Tang Choon Leong - who incidentally used to be a Benjamin Sheares College master.

Why serve migrant workers?

Clinicians of the future will not only need to practice medicine, but also play a role in improving the practice of medicine. As a graduate-entry medical school, Duke-NUS trains clinicians who come to medical school with a foundation in an undergraduate discipline such as engineering and social sciences. This adds valuable diversity into medical practice in Singapore, and introduces fresh perspectives on overcoming challenges in healthcare.

Third year Duke-NUS medical student, Anthony Li, is one example of a future clinician who is constantly exploring innovation in medicine and medical education. Apart from being the current head of the MedTECH Student Interest Group at Duke-NUS Medical School, he also explores app development in his spare time and has created an online app that allows his peers to post and share their reflections during their clerkships year. We interview him to learn more.

You studied Electrical Engineering in university. What led you to pursue Medicine?

I graduated from NUS Electrical Engineering in 2013. After working at A*STAR and MOE for 2 years in grant administration and software engineering roles, I decided to pursue my ambition of becoming a doctor.

Yan Xiaoxi, Entering Class of 2017, PhD in Integrated Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (IBB)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

Hello, I am Xiaoxi from Duke-NUS PhD Entering Class of 2017, under the PhD in Integrated Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (Biostatistics concentration) programme. Prior to joining Duke-NUS, I spend 6 years in the UK studying and working. I completed an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences and Medical Physics at University College London (UCL), during which I had the opportunity to do a biostatistics internship at UCL Institute of Child Health. The internship allowed me to work on epidemiological data where I experienced first-hand the importance and wide application of statistics in the health and biomedical field. That was when my interest in statistics deepened and I went on to do a Master’s degree in Statistics at UCL.

After graduating, I worked as a statistician in the R&D unit of a London-based health tech start-up company, where I delved into the digital health industry, initiated and led a large-scale research project. I then decided to apply to a PhD programme in order to improve and gain more skills in statistics research.

How did you come to know about the Duke-NUS PhD IBB programme and what made you apply?

On average, our students enter the MD programme at age 25, with just 5.5% of them already holding a PhD. Ong Lay See, 31, from the MD Class of 2021, took a path less travelled to medicine. Before joining the Duke-NUS MD programme, she completed a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Psychology, and a PhD degree in Psychology.

The path to medicine is seldom easy, and familial support can play a huge role in one's journey. Lay See was fortunate to have her parents' and husband's full support in her pursuit of medicine. At her white coat ceremony, we spoke to her family members to learn more about their perspectives.

duke-nus admissions blog

Lay See (5th from left) with her family

Admissions: How do you feel about your daughter pursuing Medicine now?

Lay See’s Mum: We are extremely happy and proud of her. We’ve never pressured her to study any particular subject as we’ve always believed in allowing our children freedom of choice. She did well at university and we’re very happy that she is now pursuing her deep interest in medicine and fulfilling her aspirations. Coming from a social science background, it was not easy for her and she had to sacrifice time to gain exposure in medically-related fields.

Katherine Nay Yaung, Entering class of 2016, MD-PhD

katherine nay yaung

with family

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

Before starting school at Duke-NUS, I graduated from NUS with a BSc (Honours) in Life Sciences (Specialisation in Biomedical Science). I started to toy with the idea of doing medicine in secondary school when I was first exposed to scientific research. Since then, I’ve dabbled in many areas such as microbiology, infectious diseases and neurobiology. Throughout the years, I’ve had many nurturing mentors and colleagues who have inspired me to continue pursuing research. Along the way, I had a few volunteering stints with various organizations, which piqued my interest in healthcare. I came to the realization that medicine would be a perfect blend of these various interests and I’m glad to be able to pursue it.

Have your medical interests changed since becoming a student at Duke-NUS?

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