ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

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.

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?

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

Before coming to Duke-NUS, I did my undergraduate studies in NUS and majored in Pharmacy. During my third year of studies, I did a 6-week hospital attachment and that experience shifted my sights to a possible medical career. After I graduated, I trained as a pre-registration pharmacist in National University Hospital (NUH) for 9 months and subsequently took some time off to develop my sporting interests before starting in Duke-NUS.

White Coat Ceremony Day

White coat ceremony day with my parents

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I love playing sports. It’s all fun, friends and exercise wrapped into one. Most of the time, I play touch rugby and last year, I went to the Touch World Cup 2015 that was held in Australia. It was an awe-inspiring and humbling experience to play against the best teams in the world. Being active helps keep me balanced and sane so I still play in leagues games on Saturdays whenever I can.

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

A bit about me

Hi there! I'm Aaron, a first year student in the Duke-NUS MD programme. I graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical and Biomolecular) in 2015 and joined Duke-NUS right after.

An Engineer's Journey to Medicine

Graduating from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in 2015 with a Bachelor of Engineering

Since I was a kid, I had always been intrigued by the idea of being a doctor; a professional who is able to provide comfort, assurance and love for the sick. I decided on an engineering degree for my undergraduate studies because I did not know if I was ready to do Medicine then, and engineering had a good mix of my interest in the sciences and mathematics. I enjoyed what I studied in my undergraduate degree but the idea of Medicine always lingered at the back of my mind.

How I got interested in Medicine

There are a couple of reasons that led to my decision to do Medicine. During my undergraduate days, I enjoyed doing community work to help the needy and the sick. It was during those days when I realized how much joy I could give by interacting with the elderly, and saw the impact of forging connections with those in need of our time and help.

Danny Tng (Year 1 MD Student)

Student Spotlight

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I did my Bachelors in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. In my final year of Bachelors, I had the opportunity to participate in cancer related research. It was then that I had the dream of contributing to healthcare though research. I decided to stay on for 3 more years at NTU to do my PhD, working on micromachines and nanomedicines for cancer treatment in Prof Yong Ken-Tye’s group. Concurrently, I also had the opportunity to work as a researcher for the NTU x National Healthcare Group (NHG) collaboration project with Adj Prof Tan Cher Heng. During that time I had the privilege of working with many researchers as well as clinician scientists who shared the same dream as me. It was then that I had the aspiration to become a clinician scientist in order to care for patients as well as to have the ability to do research which can directly contribute to taking better care of them in the future.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

Vanessa Cheong (Year 1 MD student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I spent 4 memorable years studying Pharmacy in London School of Pharmacy (now merged under University College London) in the city of London, United Kingdom before graduating with an MPharm degree in 2013. After completing my 1 year pre-registration training at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and various institutions, I worked as a pharmacist in IMH's general psychiatric, rehabilitation and the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) ward before joining the Duke-NUS MD program last year in 2015.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I enjoy creative and artistic pursuits in general, especially art and music. I draw and do digital art in photoshop, sing and perform occasionally. I also love the Japanese language and culture and will be happy to have more opportunities to practise the language! My other hobbies include reading, travelling and photography.

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

A little about me

Two years ago, I graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I’m now a wide-eyed, enthusiastic first year medical student. In the two years between graduation and matriculation, I conducted research in sleep and circadian rhythms with Dr. Joshua Gooley at Duke-NUS. Having known I have wanted to pursue a medicine for quite some time, most people ask me why I didn’t join medical school directly. Why take two years off to do research? I needed a break is what I usually answer. Jokes aside, honestly, instead of going to medicine immediately, I wanted to have an extended opportunity to do research. I have always believed research to be the mother of medicine; so to have unfiltered time to conduct research before pursuing medicine was important for me.

Graduating from Duke University


How I spent my 2 years

Introducing…

Haikel Lim (Year 1 MD student)

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

I graduated with a BSocSci(Hons) from National University of Singapore (NUS), where I read psychology and was part of the University Scholars Programme. Because I was incredibly interested in the spectrum of psychological research, my junior undergraduate years were spent as a volunteer research assistant/minion for a number of amazing mentors both locally and overseas (shoutout to Prof Crystal Park, Dr June Gruber, and Dr Patricia Chen!), and my senior undergraduate years were spent under the tutelage of A/P Konstadina Griva at NUS, where we worked on understanding the issues and barriers facing dialysis and diabetic patients. I spent the next two years after graduation as a full-time research associate for the inspiring A/P Rathi Mahendran and Prof Kua Ee Heok at National University Health System (NUHS), where we strengthened the clinical research arm of the Psychosocial Oncology Service. While at NUHS, I also pursued a part-time research MSc with NUS focused on psychological medicine and biostatistics, before joining Duke-NUS to commence my medical education.