Admissions Blog

The writer, Tan Chin Yee, is an MD-PhD candidate who joined Duke-NUS Medical School in 2015. He completed his first 2 years in the MD programme and is about to begin his PhD research abroad, in Duke University, Durham, NC.

I’d like to start off, perhaps disappointingly, by saying that there is no correct way to write a personal statement. In preparing for medical school and graduate school applications, I’ve consulted online resources [1, 2, 3] which provide guiding questions and even dos and don’ts of writing personal statements. I’ve also glanced through books of compiled personal statements (all scrutinized and allocated grades by an expert panel, mind you). To some extent, these resources are useful if you are just getting started. You might need a rough idea of the morphology and style of a personal statement, and these serve as useful starting material to help get your creative process going. However, be mindful that they are at best adjuvants. Remember that the personal statement is supposed to be personal, hence the mission here is to tell, in a matter of 1-2 pages and in your own words, your story from aspiration to application.

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.