Medicine heals the body, music heals the mind. Graduating medical student Nishanth Thiagarajan hopes to achieve both with his unwavering dedication to medicine and Carnatic vocals. He is the first Singaporean to be selected the Best Male Vocal Carnatic Singer at the prestigious Spirit of Youth Festival in Chennai, India, in 2014, and has also been an NUS Medicine Dean’s Lister for three consecutive years.
Nishanth has had a natural inclination to music since he was a child. He began learning Carnatic vocals at the age of six, started performing internationally at the age of 14 and completed an eight-year diploma course in Indian Classical Music at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) at the age of 17. He has won multiple awards including the title award of Sangeetha Visharad, the highest award for his diploma, and first prize in the Carnatic Vocal Open category at the National Indian Music Festival organised by the National Arts Council of Singapore in 2014.
With medicine, Nishanth exhibits the same level of commitment and discipline. He believes that practicing medicine would give him the opportunity to serve the community while constantly doing something new, challenging and dynamic. “In medicine, every effort has a real and personal impact on someone’s life, and I owe it to myself and those I treat, to give my best in their care,” he said.
Despite music and medicine taking up a large part of his time, Nishanth continued to be actively involved in many school activities. He was the overall leader for a nationwide study on fall prevention among senior residents in 2017, a committee member of the International Relations Directorate of the NUS Medical Society from 2015 to 2016, and part of the organising committee for the Asian Medical Students’ Conference in 2014.
The key to Nishanth’s achievements is no secret. It is an ongoing exercise of tenacity and good time management. There were times he had to wake up at wee hours of the morning just to fit in time to practice his music before school.
He is also grateful for the strong support he received in NUS, which kept him going.
Nishanth is currently doing his housemanship training at the Department of Internal Medicine in Singapore General Hospital, and will graduate from NUS on 15 July with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery.
However, Nishanth has no intention to put his music endeavours on hold for his medical career. He hopes to put up more international performances and even produce his first album.
“Music has provided me with a creative outlet and aside from providing a wonderful form of stress relief, music has also enabled me to be more motivated and innovative in my approach to studies and now, work,” Nishanth shared.