Duke-NUS attracts freshmen from different paths

Duke-NUS freshmen from the Class of 2023 at their White Coat Ceremony on 2 August

Heeding their hearts’ calling to become doctors, they left established careers to join Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS). Bank vice president Lim Chun Chai, civil servant Sivanesh Sivarajan and journalist Hoe Pei Shan are among 78 others who form the School’s 13th batch of students. As Singapore’s only graduate medical school, the cohort also includes 17 Master’s degree holders and two PhD graduates.

At 39, former OCBC Bank Singapore vice president Mr Lim is the most mature student to matriculate at Duke-NUS. Despite his degrees in engineering and finance, and a decade-long career in banking, Mr Lim decided to take the plunge this year and pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. “It was a decision that I have been pondering over for years. I decided to make the leap as I wanted to do something for the greater good of the community,” he shared.


From right: Mr Lim with Duke-NUS Dean Prof Thomas Coffman at the White Coat Ceremony

This sentiment of wanting to serve the community is shared by Mr Sivarajan, a former civil servant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His career took him to live in several countries and involved policy work. While he found his job enriching, he felt there was more that he wanted to achieve. “When I was younger, becoming a doctor was not on my mind. I was focused on making money and climbing up the corporate ladder. As I grew older, I began to gain confidence in my ability and rigour, which could help me to treat patients,” he explained.

Becoming a doctor was on the mind of Ms Hoe, the former investigative journalist. Her interest in medicine began during her time as a national gymnast, when she felt she could contribute to sports medicine. This belief developed further during her six-year career as a reporter that brought her to disaster-hit areas and on international aid missions with the Red Cross. “My first-hand experiences showed me that many more healthcare professionals were needed to make a bigger impact. I believe that I can make a difference by studying medicine,” she said.

With their unconventional careers and rich academic experiences, these freshmen will bring depth and fresh perspectives to the medical community they will serve. “I am confident that the diverse backgrounds of our students will continue to add unique value to our healthcare ecosystem. We will continue to nurture high quality clinicians who will serve Singaporeans and the needs of Singapore with compassion and distinction,” said Professor Ian Curran, Vice-Dean of Education at Duke-NUS.