Beginning this academic year, Yale-NUS students are able to take part in the new “Liberal Arts and Medicine Pathway” — a program the college jointly created with the Duke-NUS Medical School, the only graduate-entry medical school in Singapore.

Prospective students can apply to take part in the pathway by indicating their interest in a supplemental essay on their Yale-NUS application. If admitted to the program, they will also gain conditional admission to the Duke-NUS Medical School. Students on the pathway will receive their undergraduate degree in any major from Yale-NUS and will participate in an immersion program at Duke-NUS while working toward a bachelor’s degree. Students will then go on to study at the Duke-NUS Medical School, provided that they maintain a high GPA, successfully complete the MCAT and show “evidence of meaningful clinical/medical experiences,” according to Duke-NUS’s website.

“For me, the really exciting thing about the Yale-NUS partnership is that it gives us the opportunity to put the art back into medicine — the philosophical dimensions, the humanities dimension, the humanitarian dimension, the legal and psychological dimensions,” said Ian Curran, Duke-NUS vice dean of education. “It’s a really exciting opportunity to get two elite institutions to work together to produce a unique output, which I think is going to be a real value-add to the Singaporean healthcare system.”

The Duke-NUS immersion program for admitted students will include advising sessions with Duke-NUS faculty, a clinical observership with Duke-NUS alumni, a premedical module, medical specialties workshops and participation in the PreHealth Experiential Program that will give students insights into the Singaporean medical landscape and graduate-entry medical programs. At the end of their third year of study at Yale-NUS, students on the pathway will formally apply for admission to Duke-NUS’s doctor of medicine program.

According to Hoon Eng Khoo, Yale-NUS associate professor of science and adviser to the pathway program, the pathway “advance[s] strategic interests” of both institutions, while offering students “a structured, deliberate pathway to pursue medicine and liberal arts.”

Khoo noted that as the sole graduate-entry medical school in the country, Duke-NUS seeks applicants from a variety of backgrounds — something a liberal arts school such as Yale-NUS can provide. In the past, Yale-NUS has organized clinical and medical experiences for students interested in pursuing medicine as a career, but only in an “ad-hoc manner,” she said.

Khoo said that despite the pathway’s creation, Yale-NUS will continue to “fully support” and advise students interested in applying to doctor of medicine programs who are not on the pathway. She added that any Yale-NUS student can apply to take modules and programs offered by Duke-NUS when already in college, though only those on the pathway are guaranteed admission.

“We believe that students on the pathway will have a better understanding of the requirements and the professional rigor of being a medical doctor as they participate in the immersion program offered by Duke-NUS,” Khoo said. “Thus, they will be clearer about their own commitment by their senior year when they will make the decision to apply to the M.D. program.”

Chua Yun Da, a student on the pathway, said that he will be able to “quite accurately” decide whether medicine is truly his calling after exploring various disciplines and other interests during his undergraduate career at Yale-NUS.

Curran said that in addition to Duke-NUS working with Yale-NUS undergraduates on the pathway, he would like to see faculty from Yale-NUS get involved with teaching graduates at Duke-NUS. He would especially like to see that happen in areas such as ethics, law and psychology, he added.

“We’re all enriched by working together and across traditional disciplinary boundaries, because that’s where innovation happens,” Curran said. “It happens at intersections, it happens at boundaries, and it creates a sort of pioneering, free song of creativity which we’re working to promote in our school, so we’re delighted to have a relationship with Yale-NUS, and we’re really encouraged with the reception we have to date and the future quality of this relationship and the impact it will have.”

Students participating in the pathway told the News that they are looking forward to studying medicine at Duke-NUS, but are glad they will study at a liberal arts college first.

Amirul Hakim Bin Abdul Hamid, a student in the pathway, said that the pathway fulfills his needs as he is “someone who wants to try many new and exciting things and at the same time is interested in studying medicine in the future.”

Julia Tatarynowicz, another student on the pathway, said that while she did apply to undergraduate-entry medical schools, she thinks that it is too early for 17- and 18-year-olds to come into contact with large numbers of patients “without the relevant people skills.”

“I believe that through the liberal arts, I will learn to interact with a variety of individuals and get to know different cultures and traditions better — skills I would maybe not develop as quickly if I went straight to medical school,” Tatarynowicz said.

Duke-NUS was established in 2005.

Asha Prihar |

Asha Prihar served as managing editor of the News during the 2019-20 academic year. Before that, she covered community service, Yale's professional schools and undergraduate student life as a staff reporter. She is a senior in Silliman College studying political science.