ADMISSIONS BLOG

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 second contributor is Shu Fang, a current MS2 student. Read on as she shares her experience in the second year of medical school.

Today (15-Aug-2014) marks the end of our 48-week clerkship in Year 2.

We will run our last final lap next week before we can duly call ourselves MS3 instead of “old MS2” - that is, after finishing CPX2, CBSE and CCSE!

However, let’s not think about those upcoming exams for now. It is a good opportunity for me to take a hiatus and reflect back on the ups and downs for the past 1 year and for you to have a glimpse of the life of a 2nd year medical student in Duke-NUS!

Although I am not quite sure why I was invited to write this blog, I hope I can accurately reflect what my classmates and I had gone through for the last 1 year.

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 first contributor is Hong King, a current MS1 student. Read on as he shares his experience in the first year of medical school.

World Autism Awareness was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly, which declared 2 April as ‘World Autism Awareness Day’ (WAAD).

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism for short, is a pervasive disorder that is characterised by a triad of impairment: social interaction, language and communication, and perspective taking and inflexibility. Not everybody with autism spectrum disorder has the same difficulties. Some people may have autism that is mild while others may have autism that is more severe. Two people with autism spectrum disorder may not act alike or have the same skills.

ASD affects tens of millions of people in the world.

Here in Singapore, World Autism Awareness Week (WAAW) was first inaugurated in 2011 by students from Benjamin Sheares College, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. WAAW was held from 2nd April to 6th April this year. Working closely with our distinguished partners from Autism Association Singapore (AAS), Autism Resource Center, Singapore (ARC), Saint Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC) and Rainbow Center, we celebrated WAAW this year by holding the annual “Light It Up Blue!” campaign on 2nd April, roadshow at ION Orchard on 4th April, followed by the Healthcare Seminar for medical professionals the following day.

When we were inducted into the Duke-NUS’ Benjamin Sheares College, we were excited to take on the task of promoting Autism Awareness. It was a real privilege to be part of this worthy cause as many of us had been touched by people with autism – either personally or professionally. We recognized the importance of raising awareness about autism throughout society and to draw attention to the need for social understanding and acceptance of individuals with autism.

Working with Duke-NUS’ main autism partners, Saint Andrews Autism Centre, Autism Association of Singapore, Autism Resource Centre and Rainbow Centre, our Sheares’ seniors together with colleagues from Duke-NUS, KK Hospital and other organizations, we began to learn more about autism by visiting various Autism Centres and inviting speakers to talk about autism. It is always a challenge to inherit a cause that has been upheld admirably by our seniors. They worked hard to execute the regular annual events such as the ION Orchard roadshow, the “Light It Blue” Campaign and the Healthcare Seminar in previous years. This year, we were challenged to continue this tradition while we sought to further increase public awareness.

On May 28th 2014, Associate Professor Denny Lie met with interested students to discuss sports medicine, his biomedical engineering research projects, and gave a hands-on workshop on arthroscopic surgery. A senior consultant for the SGH Orthopaedic Sports Service, Prof. Lie also holds a Ph.D. from the Imperial College of London in biomechanics and serves as the Deputy Orthopaedics Coordinator for the Duke-NUS Musculoskeletal Core Clerkship.

Growing up, I never thought about the constant moving as a gift. In fact, I hated it. I hated it so much that while children my age begged and wished for the newest playstation or gameboy, I begged and wished that I could return to Singapore. Moving was and still is hard. Making new friends, awkward introductions, foreign languages, and even more foreign cultures, were just a few of the many traumatic things that assailed my everyday.

The first six months were the hardest. Thinking back to my time in Bahrain – a small country in the middle east and my first move – elicits images of sand dunes, short dusty buildings, noisy souks, five a day salat projected over the neighboring mosque’s loudspeakers, and the horror that was British School: my Singaporean pronunciations of oil = oii, that = dat, and lack of prepositions were merry subjects among peers. I was uprooted from the only place I knew and thrown into an all too different world where the closest semblance to home was the lousy Chinese restaurant 15 minutes drive away. Taking that Boeing 747 out of Changi Airpot and into Bahrain International brought about many more changes than I could have ever imagined.

To me the New Year period is a time of reflection, for the experiences of the year behind us, and how we choose to move forward from that. In reviewing my experience of medical school so far there are three areas of life that come to mind and I can frame these as three challenges to keep in mind moving into the new year.

Time management skills are an important skill in a medical career, and we must learn these starting from when we enter the profession as students. My challenge for this area is not just to cover assigned reading, but to go beyond this. To find things that interest us and follow up on those, to keep in mind that the things we are learning provide a basis for clinical practice and to look for those links. While picking up additional textbooks might not be that feasible, there are review books that provide quick insights into utility such as the first aid USMLE and boards series, and books highlighting clinical cases that we can apply our burgeoning knowledge to.

Experientia docet in Latin means 'Experience is the best teacher’  
By: Yuka Suzuki, PhD Class of 2013

I am a first-year student at the Duke-NUS PhD Program in Integrated Biology and Medicine (IBM), with a primary interest in cancer genomics. Known as a foodie, I always look for the best food places, in particular Japanese food.

My second love is science, and so I chose to do a PhD in science. However, running computer scripts and churning out huge datasets was something I had never envisioned previously. Once I failed a computer programming class so badly I vowed never to touch a computer terminal again. However, I found myself getting re-acquainted with computational biology as I worked on my master’s dissertation in epigenomics at the University College of London (UCL). This was where I studied how epigenetics could lead to cancer in humans using a technology called next-generation sequencing and where I got my first taste of genomics. 

Joining Duke-NUS was serendipitous because after graduation I still didn’t know what I wanted to specialize in. Next generation sequencing was my first thought. 

If you ever had a doubt about what the word “commitment” means, you should try to ask one of the MD/PhD students – that is of course if you could find them: are they in the laboratory, the vivarium, the Academia, the wards, or the classroom…?

After 2 years of medical school and almost 4 years of full-time graduate studies I now find myself writing about the biggest commitment I have ever made in life. If I could illustrate this concept by calling the past six years a marriage, then it has been quite a fruitful one, resulting in not only scientific discoveries in the field of molecular neuroscience but also in fostering a beautiful collaboration between scientists at Duke-NUS Neurosciences & Behavioural Disorders Signature Research Program and clinicians at the Singapore General Hospital and Bright Vision Hospital.

As a Duke-NUS MD student I have been guided by some of the best faculty on how to be a good doctor and now as a PhD student I have been very fortunate to be taken under the wing of an excellent mentor, Dr. Antonius Van Dongen, who has shown me what it truly means to be a scientist. And I am not special: ask any of the other of our ever-growing list of MD/PhDs what they do for a living and you will most likely get the same answer.

Hello, I am Benjamin Farah, currently in my 3rd year of my PhD at Duke-NUS, under Dr. Paul Yen in the CVMD program. With my PQE (PhD qualifying exam) behind me, I've moved further on into my thesis research, as well as working on writing up some of my earlier projects for publication.

My PhD here at Duke-NUS has been a wonderful program so far. Although I had been out of a lab for a while when I started, it felt good to get back in the swing of research, and work on solving some interesting problems. My clinical year (2nd year of MD) taught me many things, but one thing that stood out is how there is still much unknown about many diseases, and how there is still much that needs to be done to improve treatment. I only hope that during my thesis research I can advance our knowledge, and be a (small) part of a huge effort to improve patients' lives.

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