ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

Amelia Koe (MD Class of 2018)

Amelia is the poster girl in our widely used 'Inspiring Hope, Impacting Lives' poster that you may have seen on our brochures and flyers

Tell us about your path to Duke-NUS.

In 2004, I decided to spend a few years in The University of Melbourne, Australia, pursuing Bachelor of Biomedical Science. During this time, I did research in a neuroscience laboratory at the Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne Hospital. Inspired by research and my keen interest in behavioural neuroscience, I ended up spending more than a few years in Melbourne, continuing on to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience. I spent four years in translational research, investigating the mechanisms by which early life stress increases the vulnerability to developing epilepsy in adulthood. My research was conducted in rodent models of human conditions, and while contributing to the field of science, I often yearned to understand these conditions first hand in the human population and to see science in medicine with my own eyes. Nearing graduation, I decided that a medical degree was something I wanted to embark on next. I applied right after graduation, entering Duke-NUS a year later in 2014.

What made you apply to Duke-NUS?

Academic performance and other accomplishments presented in your CV are not the only things that matter when applying to medical school. Recommendation letters are a crucial part of your application, especially if your referees know you well professionally and are able to vouch for your character.

Upbeat interviewed two of our medical students who are also student file reviewers* to share their advice on what makes a good recommendation letter.

Student A graduated with a BSc in Pharmacy from National University of Singapore before joining our MD Class of 2018.
Student B graduated with a BSc in Biochemistry from Washington State University and an MSc in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University before joining our MD Class of 2017.

What makes a good recommendation letter?

Research in the Duke-NUS MD Programme:

I am Xue Ling, a born-and-bred Singaporean who did my undergraduate studies in Molecular Cell Biology and Economics at UC Berkeley. My four years in Berkeley were a huge eye-opener; it first exposed me to world-class research and passionate scientists and professors who were both knowledgeable in their fields, and dedicated to teaching. Fast forward to today, I am now a final year Duke-NUS student who just completed my research project on ultrasonography of the trigger finger.

As part of the Duke-NUS curriculum, our third year of medical school comprises 9 months of research that concludes with a thesis submission. These 9 months enable us to delve further into a scientific field we are interested in, and equip us with valuable skills for future research undertakings as doctors.

Choosing a research topic:

Most of my classmates and I chose research areas that were related to a specialty we were interested in. We also asked our seniors for advice on mentors and research topics, which ranged from mouse model work on signaling pathways in pancreatic cancer, to a comparison of imaging modalities on renal perfusion.

More about my research:

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.

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.

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