ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

The most important question

Why do you want to be a doctor? Think about that question really hard because it’s going to come up for the rest of your life. It’s going to be on your application essays to medical school, on your interviews, on your dinner table with your parents; it’s going to be a question that you’re asked for the rest of your life from the moment you decide to enter medical school or even do an undergraduate pre-medical degree, as I did.

There is no one answer to this question and through the years, my answer changed drastically. I knew from the age of seven that I wanted to be a doctor and most of my life has been shaped by that decision. But it wasn’t until university that I finally figured out the true reason why I wanted to be a doctor.

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?

Mervyn Chan (MD-PhD Student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I was in the pioneer batch of my undergraduate course - Sport Science and Management which started in 2009. Exercise was my hobby and the thought of being able to learn more about a field I loved prompted me to join the course. It was there that I learnt about basic human anatomy, exercise physiology and biomechanics which provided a foundation for the first year of medical school curriculum. Not that I knew I was going to pursue medicine at that point in time. It was a great 4 years spent doing the things I loved. However, 4th year came and it was time to face reality again.

My final year in the course was when I really thought hard about what I wanted to do post-graduation. Did I want to go into sport science research? Did I want to pursue public health? Did I want to do something in allied health? It was during my 4th year internship stint at Health Promotion Board, where I spent 6 months learning about health policy and public health, when I knew I wanted to work in healthcare instead of elite sports.

First year medical student Tan Chin Chuen splits his time between medical school and rigorous training in his sport - canoeing. An oustanding sportsman, Chin Chuen won a silver medal at the 2015 SEA Games, where he and his teammate finished 2nd in the C2 200m canoeing finals. At the time of this post, we also learnt that Chin Chuen has just received the NUS President's Sports Award 2016. Congratulations Chin Chuen!

We interviewed Chin Chuen to find out more about his experience in sprint canoeing and how he came to join Duke-NUS Medical School. 

chin chuen sea games

Chin Chuen and his silver medal from the 2015 SEA Games

What is sprint canoeing and how did you get started in the sport?

CC: In sprint canoeing, paddlers compete on flatwater bodies in various distances - 200m, 500m and 1000m. The canoe is a light, narrow open boat that is propelled by one, two or four paddlers from a kneeling position. Unlike kayakers who use double-bladed paddles, we use a single-bladed paddle exclusively on one side of the boat. Hence, one of the biggest challenges I face competing is keeping straight within the lanes.

Hi! First off, if you’re reading this page in preparation of applicant day, congratulations on getting an interview! I’m Sam, currently in 2nd year and going through clinical rotations. I majored in Physics in the University of British Columbia and now I’m back in Singapore to pursue medicine. Here are some tips for applicant day that I’d like to share, categorized to pre-applicant day, applicant day and post-applicant day.

class of 2019 md

A few of us in our white coats 

Pre-Applicant Day:

I’m currently finishing my Masters of Science in Global Health at Duke University, in what is an extended third year of research during my Duke-NUS MD. Right now in preparation to transition back to Duke-NUS Medical School, I have a renewed sense of self and goals. With that spirit I will join Team Healthy Kids to run the upcoming New York City Marathon this November. Your encouragement and support - whether financial, vocal, social media, or even a commitment to run – will go a long way towards this mission that is very near and dear to me. Please take a minute to visit the following link below:

https://www.crowdrise.com/ActionforHealthyKidsnyc2016/fundraiser/kuoben

Growing up in a family of physicians in Taiwan and the United States, medicine as a career choice ironically wasn’t always my first nor my second choice. But after a long journey of different experiences, the calling and desire to become a doctor became clear. Anticipating the long road ahead, I knew if I wanted to see this through, I had to enjoy the journey. How do I now synthesise my experiences, background, and my passion to chart a path that I am truly excited about? This reflection letter came about and gave me the clarity and the peace of mind that I needed.

ben kuo

Deciding to pursue medicine as a career is not a decision anyone takes—or should take, for that matter—without careful consideration. This is especially true if you are considering diving into medicine as a post-graduate student (read: old[er] person). And, perhaps, this may be an even more difficult decision to make if you come from a non-traditional (i.e. non-premed) background. My name is Haikel, a second year medical student, and I hope to provide you with some insight into why, and how, I went from psychology to medicine, and how it has helped me so far, so that it may possibly help you make a more informed choice (too long?—skip to the last paragraph).

Curiosity Killed the Cat

haikel dance

My favourite co-curricular activity, pre-university, at least, was Indian Dance; it is now sleep.

haikel community service

My other favourite co-curricular activity was volunteering; one of the many projects we organised as High Five Youth was this roadshow to educate youth on dementia.

Year Two

After a year of TeamLEAD sessions in the classroom, the second year Dukies will be released into the real world. It might seem exciting to some and scary to others, but it is definitely an experience that is unique to the life of a medical student. One way to think about this experience might be to compare it with the concept in the olden days of an apprentice, where the young disciple learns first-hand from his master how things are done, and at times even tries his hand at some tasks.

Modern day learning is more structured. The ward learning experience is broadly divided into six specialties, each lasting four to eight weeks, called clerkships. The schedule differs slightly across different clerkships but generally speaking, the student attends and even participates in morning rounds, specialist clinics, and specialized procedures, if any. This is supplemented with specialised teaching sessions in the wards, like bedside tutorials. Through these, the student should be able to pick up skills in examining and communicating with a patient, to read signs and obtain necessary information to make diagnoses and plans for the patient.

Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships

chan wee lee

Having fun while learning

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I went up to Oxford in 2004 to read Biochemistry. While I was a student at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, I had several incredible tutors who were leaders in the fields of biophysics and structural biology. In my four years there, I was greatly influenced by their work and developed a strong interest in understanding the structures and functions of biological molecules. Upon graduation, I was keen to further my training in this field, and one of my tutors recommended me to a friend of hers, Professor Randy Read, at the Department of Haematology in Cambridge. It was in Professor Read’s laboratory that I pursued a PhD, where I learned to use X-ray crystallography to elucidate protein structures to angstrom resolution.

Medical Education Financial Aid

Financing a medical education can be challenging and is a huge factor that many MD applicants have to consider. Our school helps students tap on various resources to meet financial needs, including bursaries and merit scholarships. We interviewed an MD student from the Class of 2019, who shared how he finances his medical studies.

What sort of financial aid did you receive when you applied to Duke-NUS Medical School?

As a beneficiary of the School’s financial aid, I am extremely thankful for its generous support. In my first year, I received a Duke-NUS bursary that covered about 75% of my school fees. That helped to reduce the financial burden of attending medical school. I also took a Tuition Fee Loan (TFL) from a local bank that was made possible by MOE and NUS. The maximum TFL that can be taken is 90% of what a Singapore Citizen pays in tuition fees.

How did you finance the remainder of your fees?

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