Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing (second from right) and Duke University Chancellor Professor Eugene Washington (right) congratulate graduands from Duke-NUS’ Class of 2022 as they wait for the Graduation Ceremony to begin.

SINGAPORE, 28 May 2022 – Today, Duke-NUS Medical School—Singapore’s only graduate-entry medical school—celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2022, comprising 66 students. For the first time in two years, the graduates, their families and invited guests joined Guest-of-Honour Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, to attend the ceremony in person.

“The strong collaboration between Duke and NUS has benefited cohorts of medical students from diverse educational backgrounds, equipping them to realise their aspirations of becoming competent clinicians to take care of our community or serve as clinician-scientists in the healthcare and biomedicine sectors. We will continue to explore such international partnerships to enrich our higher education landscape,” said Mr Chan.

As champions of Duke-NUS’ ‘Clinician First, Clinician Plus’ educational approach, the 53 Doctor of Medicine Programme (MD) graduates from the Class of 2022 were selected through a stringent admissions process—which requires them to excel in the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a knowledge and aptitude test administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges—to propel them to pursue their dream of studying medicine at the School.

Selecting students from different backgrounds—including some of the diverse backgrounds of the current cohort, such as law, finance and engineering—enables Duke-NUS to nurture multi-faceted clinicians with an innate ability to grow into clinician-scientists, innovators, educators, entrepreneurs and leaders who better the world through innovative solutions and world-class care of patients.

“Each year, Duke-NUS takes in a diverse group of promising medical students who graduate into outstanding clinicians four years later—‘Clinicians First’,” said Professor Thomas M Coffman, Dean of Duke-NUS. “But today’s graduation is only the first step in their careers. From this starting point, they are primed to potentially grow into innovators, scientists, leaders and entrepreneurs—what we have called ‘Clinician Plus’—incorporating these new facets of their professional identities while embracing key Duke-NUS values, such as courage and compassion.”

In addition to awarding MD degrees, jointly awarded by Duke University and the National University of Singapore (NUS), the School also recognised graduating students who excelled academically and for their community service and leadership abilities. These awards included the Singapore Medical Association’s Lee Foundation Achievement Prize and the Academy of Medicine’s Singapore Medal for Outstanding Leadership.

Dr Crystal Lee clinched the most awards this year, earning not only the SingHealth Seah Cheng Siang Gold Medal in Medicine award but also the SingHealth Prize in Paediatrics and Duke-NUS Achievement Prize: Step 2CK. Dr Lee aspired to become a psychiatrist but was unable to pursue her dream because of the financial commitment. She was, however, able to realise her dream at Duke-NUS when she was awarded the Ngee Ann Kongsi Scholarship as part of the School’s Student Financial Aid initiatives available for students who demonstrate outstanding academic performance.

“I’m thankful that the School has provision for scholarships and bursaries for students like me to have the opportunity to become a doctor,” said Dr Lee, a Ngee Ann Kongsi Scholar. “Seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many lives across the world, not just physically but also mentally, I’m excited to contribute to healing the world alongside my fellow graduates.”

At the start of their journeys, these students recited the Hippocratic Oath when they donned their white coats in for the first time in their lives in Year 1. During the graduation ceremony, they recited it for the second time as graduates when they marked this traditional milestone alongside the 8th cohort of 13 PhD and three MD-PhD1 graduates—the largest batch of PhD students to have graduated from Duke-NUS in a year.

Among the PhD graduates is Dr Xie Feng, who started his doctoral studies in Health Data Science in 2017. He said, “The Centre for Quantitative Medicine at the School, where I did my PhD, has a great learning environment and a lot of courses related to data science that enriched my skills.” His long-term goal is to develop effective data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to extract scalable knowledge from electronic health records to improve patient outcomes and optimise health services.

Graduating in the MD-PhD programme, Dr Matae Ahn took an unconventional route by becoming a Research Fellow after obtaining his PhD before going back to complete his final MD year in 2021. Dr Matae said, “During Year 2 as an MD student, I decided to pursue my PhD studies under Professor Wang Linfa via our MD-PhD programme because I was inspired by Prof Wang’s impactful bat research. I truly believe in the indispensable role of research in enhancing medicine and felt that rigorous research training would be important to contribute significantly. I appreciate the great support from my mentor Prof Wang and the School to continue with translational research after the completion of my PhD before returning to Year 4 of the MD programme.”

Dr Priscilla Wee, forging a unique career pathway, left her promising career as a lawyer to join Duke-NUS and become a physician. She won the AM-ETHOS Medical Student Fellowship award for her research paper on patient-reported outcome measures for patients with diabetes mellitus. “I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives through healthcare and Duke-NUS—being a graduate medical school in Singapore—provided me the opportunity to do so,” said Dr Wee. At the graduation dinner the night before, Dr Wee also earned the SingHealth Prize in Family Medicine.

During his keynote address, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Chief Health Scientist and Executive Director, Office of Healthcare Transformation, Ministry of Health, commended the graduates for completing their rigorous Duke-NUS education amid the many disruptions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic before welcoming them warmly as the newest colleagues in the growing healthcare and biomedical research family.

Professor Ian Curran, Vice-Dean for Education, said, “It’s been a while since we have been able to graduate an entire cohort in person, making today’s ceremony particularly heartwarming and celebratory. This graduating cohort has demonstrated amazing resilience, determination and grit as the pandemic unfolded around them. They have excelled academically, clinically and professionally. The School wishes them every success in their future careers and looks forward to welcoming them as our alumni. We have every confidence, that going forward, they will transform medicine and improve lives in Singapore and beyond.”

Dr Matae Ahn, Dr Timothy Tay Kai Cheng and Dr Jiang Yuheng from Class of 2022

Note: 1MD-PhD students/graduates are sometimes included when talking about MD students/graduates in general. In total, the School graduated 66 students, comprising 50 MD recipients, 3 MD-PhD recipients and 13 PhD recipients.