Admissions Blog

The Cookie Project is a peer teaching initiative started in 2016 by the graduating Class of 2016, to help our junior classes be better equipped in their clinical skills - from bedside tutorials on targeted history taking, physical examination and oral presentation to didactic lectures on topics such as X-Ray and ECG interpretation. This became our final “farewell” gift to our school!

How the project came about 
The idea came about during the long and tedious process of preparing for CPX4, our final MD exam. We were fortunate to have good junior doctors (alumni from both Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Duke-NUS), and senior doctors who took time off their rest hours to give us bedside tutorials. We also had very nice patients who willingly let us examine them so that we could pass our exams and graduate as doctors.

After passing CPX4, I thought we should not let the good effort end there. We had a window period of about 2 months before graduation and this was a period where we were at our peak proficiency in our medical school journey. Instead of letting our clinical skills atrophy without further benefitting anyone, a group of us decided that we should pay it forward and organise small group teaching sessions for our juniors.

I embarked on a 6-week long trip to the US for an overseas away elective in Abdominal Transplant Surgery in Duke University Medical Center. I also fortunately planned and had the privilege on going for a major international scientific meeting, the annual ASCO GI Cancers Symposium in San Francisco, California. I started the trip touring the east coast's New York City, Boston and Washington DC for a couple of weeks prior to the commencement of the elective as it was my first time in the USA! I thoroughly enjoyed the Big Apple, spending New Year's eve counting down to 2016 at Times Square, visiting famous medical medical landmarks and national monuments in the nation's capital. I also had to eke out some time from the elective for my International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) exam and the USMLE Step 2CS (Clinical Skills) Exam! The most memorable though was the chance to fly out in a private jet on a trans-state organ procurement surgery followed by the opportunity for scrub up for multiple surgeries to implant these harvested organs. I must say that it was certainly a rewarding and eye-opening 6 weeks, probably the most enriching time of my life!

Here are some snapshots of my amazing time in the US:

1. Traveling and Exploring NYC, Boston, Washington DC before the commencement of my elective at Duke

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

In March 2015, while I was conducting my research studies at Duke University (Durham, NC), I joined a team of Duke students and faculty leaders to travel 3,000 miles southwest of Durham to the small town of Las Mercedes, Honduras.

The mission of the trip was to improve access to healthcare in rural areas of Honduras.

The team adjusted to the elevation of the mountain town that sits 5,000 feet above sea level.

At the travel clinic, we were getting comfortable speaking Spanish, and were able to develop a connection with our patients.

We conducted home visits to develop better cross-cultural understanding.

Is it possible for a medical student to balance medical school with extra-curricular work and activities? To answer that, allow me to share an experience of mine.

A bird's eye view of the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science

I have been serving as a boarding counsellor in the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science since 2011 in its boarding school. Back then, I was a final year NUS undergraduate. I had decided to apply for the position as I found the opportunity to make a positive difference as well as free accommodation an attractive win-win option. As a boarding counsellor, my responsibilities include mentoring a cluster of 18 mostly international teenage students and facilitating and organizing various boarding school events.

A picture with some of my students during a laser tag fun outing

The first time I heard about Duke-NUS was when I was having brunch with our senior, Kavisha Singh (now an internal medicine resident at Duke, Durham), at the Collins dining hall in CMC. She had just been accepted, and that was when I found out about the wonderful opportunity to study medicine, especially for international students who may have a harder time getting into medical schools in the US, not to mention their exorbitant tuition fees. Also for me, it was a great opportunity to move back to Asia, after having been away for more than a decade while growing up. When I finally received my acceptance email, I was thrilled to start a new chapter of my life in Singapore.

The curriculum at Duke-NUS is quite hectic, as it follows the 1-year pre-clinical, 2-years clinical, and 1-year research as per Duke Durham, so most of the time it feels like information is just whooshing by with hardly any time to consolidate. Yet the school makes it bearable by having their signature TeamLEAD, whereby students get into groups of 6-7 students to discuss and learn together. Not only does this build the base for the following years of clinical reasoning, but also encourages teamwork and a foundation for lasting friendships.


Kenneth Chin (Year 3 MD student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

After graduating with a BSc. Hons (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) from the University of Melbourne, I returned to Singapore to complete my National Service as a Platoon Commander in the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) and 4th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (4SIR). Thereafter, I worked for a year in A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute in the Stem Cells lab, before I was accepted to Duke-NUS and commenced my medical education.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I have two hobbies that are close to my heart but yet very different in nature: Medical Illustration and Pistol Shooting.

medical illustration

Kenneth’s medical illustrations

Would you share a great experience or opportunity you’ve had at Duke-NUS?

I find the learning very enriching as we study and work together in small teams. Because of the diverse backgrounds of the students here, we are able to see issues from different perspectives. This often helps us generate new ideas to tackle the issues.

By Tan Shih Jia, Janice , Class of 2016

World Autism Awareness Day falls on April 2. Every year since 2008, autism organizations around the globe has marked this day to celebrate and be involved in helping to raise awareness about autism spectrum disorders.

This occasion was first celebrated in Singapore in 2011 through the initiative of students from Benjamin Sheares College, in collaboration with the different autism centers. Marked by resounding success, the event was held again the following year. This year, for the first time, we held it as World Autism Awareness Week (WAAW) which lasted from 2nd to 8th April! Working closely with our distinguished partners from Autism Association Singapore (AAS), Autism Resource Center, Singapore (ARC), Saint Andrew’s Autism Centre and Rainbow center, we celebrated this year by holding a roadshow at ION Orchard on the 5th April, followed by seminar series at Pathlight School the following day.

By Lee Man Xin, Class of 2016

Q: Introduce your name, course of study and what you did in your undergraduate studies.

A: Hey there! My name is Lee Man Xin and I am a first year medical student here at Duke-NUS’s MD program. I graduated with a B.Sc. in Biomedical Science from Nayang Technological University, here in Singapore.

Q: What inspired you to embark on a career in medicine?

A: Medicine has always been a part of my life. My mother works as a nurse and she has been an inspiring figure – it is hard not to when as a child you witness her helping strangers in need. My clinical attachment and translational research experience at the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) further cemented by decision and before long I sat for the MCAT and here I am.

During my third year undergrad I had the opportunity to work with Dr Louis Tong and his team at SERI and that cemented my interest in medicine as a career.

By Willcyn Tang, Class of 2016

Q: Introduce your name, course of study and what you did in your undergraduate studies.

A: Hello, I am Willcyn from the Duke-NUS PhD class of 2016.

I spent my undergraduate years studying biological sciences at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. During this period, I joined one of the research labs in NTU that studies the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases using fruit fly as a model organism. From this research exposure, I learnt how knowledge on experimental-based sciences, especially genetics and molecular biology, could be applied to improve current therapeutic approaches against incurable diseases that debilitate our society. This experience, indeed, provokes my interest to embark on a career in biomedical research.

Q: Tell us what your passion in research is and how you made the decision to pursue a PhD?

Our Student Bio video of the day featuring Ho Shu Fang from the Class of 2016!

Shu Fang shares her story on why she decided to pursue medicine even though she came from an entirely different background: business.

Watch the video here: