A decade ago, Dr Soong Junwei and Dr Ron Ng made history when they became the first polytechnic graduates to gain direct entry to the medical school at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The pair from Ngee Ann Polytechnic have since graduated from NUS' Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and, now 30, are training to be specialists in different fields.

Dr Ng, who is in his third year of training as an internal medicine resident, said: "At that time it was a new thing for polytechnic students to apply to NUS medical school."

Both Dr Ng and Dr Soong, who are practising at the Singapore General Hospital, had applied in 2007 to study medicine at NUS under a discretionary admissions scheme that was new back then.

"When I first saw that I had been admitted, I logged out and in again - I didn't believe it. Locally there had been no precedent," said Dr Ng, who studied biomedical laboratory technology in polytechnic.

"More poly students are going to study medicine locally, but it's still not mainstream," he added. "But it's encouraging that they can do what they aspire to do."

Dr Soong, in his second year as an orthopaedic surgery resident, said he realised he wanted to be a doctor in his last year studying biotechnology in polytechnic.

"In my course I saw how basic research translates into clinical work for patients... I also realised I wanted to be closer to patients," he said.

Life as doctors can be challenging but they have no regrets choosing this path.

Dr Soong said: "There is a sense of responsibility as we take care of patients. But the good thing in medicine is that you don't work alone - your seniors, consultants are there and you can always ask for advice."

Said Dr Ng: "It can get busy, but you know you're doing something right for your patients, and that's how you derive job satisfaction.

"I've never once asked myself why I am in this job."