Multi-talented young doctor from NUS Medicine wins Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford

Dr Ching Ann Hui from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) Class of 2022 has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship this year, joining 100 scholars from around the world to pursue fully-sponsored postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in October 2023.

The Rhodes Scholarship, which was established in 1903, is the world’s preeminent and oldest graduate fellowship. Every year, one outstanding applicant in Singapore will be selected for the scholarship. Recipients of the scholarship are young people with proven academic excellence who also show exceptional character, leadership, the energy to use their talents to the full and a commitment to solving humanity’s challenges.

“The Rhodes Scholarship seeks to identify individuals who will fight ‘the world’s fight’. Ann Hui has demonstrated through her medical education a commitment to helping not just her patients, but also looking to the wider social and political context of challenges that they face. From migrant workers to underprivileged communities within Singapore, she has applied herself in theory and in practice,” said Professor Simon Chesterman, Chair of the Selection Committee.

He added, “A prize-winning student at NUS Medicine, she has also engaged in outreach to share about these issues to the wider community, including through the podcast she launched three years ago with fellow medical students.”

Ann Hui was selected from among 10 finalists by a committee comprising experts and leaders of diverse fields and professions.

“I feel very, very grateful to be receiving this scholarship, given the fierce competition. As a junior doctor, I want to build a more compassionate healthcare system, and increase efforts to engage marginalised communities by centring their lived experiences,” Ann Hui shared.

 Creating a space for shared connection

Interested in anthropology and writing, Ann Hui co-founded health podcast Third Spacing in 2019, which takes its name from the medical term for the movement of fluid between cells and vessels, to facilitate the sharing of experiences, knowledge and conversations with the aim of improving the medical practice and patient care.

In each fortnightly 30-minute episode, team members will speak to a professor or subject expert about topics such as medical education, and draw from social contexts to understand illnesses. Third Spacing now has more than 50 episodes, covering a broad range of topics such as the role of medical humanities in the hospital, sexual health and challenges faced by the transgender community, challenges of medical education, and what can doctors learn from patients.  

Capturing life’s moments

On top of being an outstanding student and passionate young doctor, Ann Hui is also an avid photographer. After taking up photography at a young age of nine, she eventually developed a flair for street and documentary photography. When her grandfather was diagnosed with the final stages of liver cancer in early 2014, she took as many photos of him as she could during her family’s fortnightly trip to Johor to visit him. Her grandfather passed away in May 2014, just months after his diagnosis.

In 2016, Ann Hui included a tender shot of her father feeding her grandfather a spoonful of fish soup in her submission for the City Developments Limited Singapore Young Photographer Award competition, along with five other photos that included shots of people she encountered on the streets. The submission won her the top prize for the junior category in the competition.

Come October 2023, Ann Hui plans to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Medical Anthropology in Oxford. She will also join the global community of Rhodes Scholars in many fields and careers, united by a commitment to having a positive impact on the world.

And this bright, young doctor aims to draw on her diverse strengths to deliver better care for patients. “I hope to pursue writing and research while pursuing further clinical training to integrate knowledges in the social sciences with clinical practice,” she shared.