2011 Duke NUS Med Admissions Q&A with Dean Stenberg and Jeanette Lai

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2011 Duke NUS Med Admissions Q&A with Dean Stenberg and Jeanette Lai

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Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:00:06 PM)
First I want to welcome you to Accepted.com’s Duke NUS Medical School Admissions Q&A for 2011 applicants. I also want to welcome Dr. Craig Stenberg, Associate Dean of Admissions & Student Affairs and Ms. Jeanette Lai, Manager of Student Recruitment at Duke NUS to our chat this evening.

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:00:19 PM)
Thank you, Linda!

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:00:22 PM)
We are pleased to be here, Linda.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:01:10 PM)
Dean Stenberg and Jeanette, why was Duke-NUS set up in Singapore? Why a joint program between NUS and Duke?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:01:41 PM)
Good question. It was established to train clinician scientists. Singapore is moving rapidly to become an internationally leading biomedical research hub.  Duke and NUS have both been training medical students for many years. This joint program allows Singapore the benefits of the Duke curriculum and Duke the benefits of a first-class Asian university.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:03:05 PM)
Jeanette: There are many unique features of the Duke-NUS program -- can you share with us what they are?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:03:17 PM)
Sure. I would love to. The first unique feature of the program is that it's the only program outside of the US with which Duke has collaborated. The 2nd unique feature is that we follow Duke School of Medicine's curriculum, with faculty coming in from Duke. A 3rd unique feature is that we teach our students using a very innovative instructional methodology - Team LEAD. Team LEAD is a team based learning approach and students are constantly interacting with faculty and one another, not just sitting in a classroom listening to lectures. In addition, we accept international students and financial aid is offered to all accepted applicants regardless of nationality! That sums up the key highlights of our program, Linda.

Ray (Apr 22, 2010 8:04:05 PM)
Dr. Stenberg, what is the possibility for an applicant to get off Duke's waitlist and into the program? What would you recommend a waitlisted student to do in order to have a better chance to get into the program, if Duke is truly the student's dream school and first choice?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:05:19 PM)
Hi Ray. If a student is waitlisted, then they are clearly competitive. Unfortunately, we cannot take every top candidate. In order to get off the wait list, another candidate needs to change their plan to attend Duke-NUS. If we are not able to take a waitlisted candidate, we strongly encourage them to apply for next year's intake.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:06:01 PM)
Dean, what is the advantage of the Duke NUS program to US students?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:07:53 PM)
Hi Linda. For US students without ties to Asia, Duke-NUS is probably not going to be top on their radar screen. The US has many terrific choices. However, we are a great choice for students keen to become clinician scientists and interested in being part of the amazing growth that is taking place in Asia.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:08:09 PM)
Thanks Jeanette. There is an MD program and an MD/PhD program at Duke NUS. Could you tell us more about each of these programs?

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:08:38 PM)
Dean, what is studying in Singapore like?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:08:40 PM)
Linda, I will talk more about the MD program. The MD program is a 4 year program that follows the Duke's curriculum.

  • 1st yr - Basic Sciences
  • 2nd yr - Clinical Rotation
  • 3rd yr - Research
  • 4th yr - Clinical Rotations and Electives
As for the MD/PhD program - the only difference is in the 3rd year, whereby the student will take X yrs to complete his/her PhD and then resume the 4th yr of the MD program when the PhD component has completed

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:08:59 PM)
Hi Linda. We are especially pleased to announce the opening of our MD/PhD program. For this coming year, we offer direct admission to it. The Duke-NUS experience is truly unique. We have students from 17 different countries. We deliver the Duke curriculum using a team based learning approach we call TeamLEAD. Student prepare for TeamLEAD by reviewing a number of materials including videos of Duke SOM faculty lectures, book chapters, and journal articles. Our first year students work in teams answering questions posed by the faculty. It's really exciting. No one falls asleep, as often happens during lectures. The best way to learn about TeamLEAD is to participate in a TeamLEAD session during an Applicant Day. Prospective applicants are also welcome to visit our school and see for themselves what the excitement is all about.

Ray (Apr 22, 2010 8:09:20 PM)
Dr. Stenberg, can an applicant send updated information? Is the waitlist ranked?

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:10:32 PM)
Jeanette, don't most medical schools take most of the first two years to cover the science basics? Do your students have more of a background in basic science?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:11:23 PM)
Yes, that is true for most medical schools that basic sciences are covered in 2 yrs. Though most of our students do come in with background in science, we do have students who are from engineering or anthropology degrees who are doing well in school. This can be attributed to the way we teach. Team LEAD is based on team based learning, and students are constantly learning from 1 another; the sharing of different perspectives help our students in better understanding problems.

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:11:41 PM)
Hi Ray. The applicant is always welcome to submit new information. Yes, the waiting list is ranked.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:14:32 PM)
Jeanette, could you describe the Duke NUS admissions process? Am I correct that you do not use the AMCAS in the application?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:14:48 PM)
Yes, that is true we are not on the AMCAS system.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:15:10 PM)
Dean, could you tell us a little about the financial aid that Duke NUS offers?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:15:12 PM)
Applicants will need to do a couple of steps to apply to our school:

  1. Register and complete our online application.
  2. Send in 3-5 reference letters.
  3. Submit your MCAT scores.
  4. Submit your latest transcripts
We do accept the pre-health advisors' package that is often put together for pre-med students in the US.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:15:44 PM)
That's a lot of letters of rec. Do you have Applicant Days only on campus or is that a traveling possibility?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:16:21 PM)
We have a full array of financial aid programs including loans, need based aid (bursaries), and merit scholarships. Applicants do not need to apply for scholarships. Our Admissions process is need blind, so awards of aid are not linked to the acceptance process.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:17:04 PM)
Jeanette do students interview for Duke NUS? Do you advise students to visit before choosing to attend Duke NUS?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:17:11 PM)
Linda, the reference letters requirement is actually quite similar to the AMCAS process.

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:17:33 PM)
Linda, we hold applicant days at Duke-NUS, at Duke in the US, and in other locations depending upon the volume of applications. This past year we had additional applicant days in San Francisco and Boston.

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:17:36 PM)
Thanks Linda for that interesting question. Students will only interview for Duke-NUS when they have been shortlisted for an interview (Applicant Day).

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:18:35 PM)
What happens during an Applicant Day?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:18:49 PM)
We do get students who are based in Singapore coming for our regular campus tours and most of the time, they are wowed by our amazing new building, so we would like to think that makes them more motivated to apply. :) We do have our Deans visiting US schools during spring and fall, so that is when US based students can get to know more about the school too.

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:19:18 PM)
We strongly encourage prospective applicants to come for an Applicant Day so they can really experience TeamLEAD and interact with faculty and students. However, in rare instances when it is not possible for an applicant to attend an Applicant Day, we can conduct interviews via video Skype.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:19:58 PM)
Is there a post medical school residency requirement in Singapore for Duke NUS students?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:20:22 PM)
On Applicant Day, applicants will receive pre-reading materials prior to the day. When they come in the morning, they have an ice breaker session, which is followed by a simulated TeamLEAD.  The applicants are split into different teams, discuss the pre-reading materials, and interact with our panel of deans. This typically takes about 1.5 hours,  after which there is a break and 1 group of applicants will have their interviews while the other group will do an on the spot essay. There are 2 interviews, each lasting approx 20 minutes - by 2 different interviewers. Then there is a break for lunch, where our current students and faculty will mingle with the students. The 2nd half of the day is reversed for those who did the essay.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:23:04 PM)
What is a typical essay question?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:24:30 PM)
Most of our students will complete residency training in Singapore. The Ministry of Health here is working closely with ACGME-I to establish US style residencies. The first residencies are about the start (in May). Our first batch of graduates will begin their residency training in July of 2011. MOH has clarified that it will be possible for some top students to complete their residencies abroad. There is a history in Singapore of top medical graduates getting training at the residency and/or fellowship level in the US and UK.

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:24:52 PM)
The on the spot essay is usually non-medical related and it varies from a creative type question to other more non-conventional ones.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:26:18 PM)
Jeanette, are students invited to Applicant Day after you review their application, or can they attend even if they have not yet submitted an application?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:26:39 PM)
Students are invited after we have reviewed their application. :)

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:27:05 PM)
Dean, so are Duke NUS students committed to staying in Singapore after completing their four years at NUS? Or is that only if they receive funding for their education?

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:27:53 PM)
Is the interview a decisive factor or does the admissions committee review all information after Applicant Day and then decide whether to extend an offer of admission?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:28:11 PM)
The interview is not the deciding factor. The applicant's file is taken into review by the Admission Committee and each file is reviewed comprehensively before a decision is made. So factors like outstanding voluntary experience or research experience are just as important as grades and how well an applicant does in the interview

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:29:29 PM)
Hi Linda. We are seeking students who want to contribute to the development of this exciting biotechnology hub. Students coming to Duke-NUS need to be committed to staying in Singapore for at least 10 years and, hopefully, will want to pursue careers here.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:30:25 PM)
Jeanette, what are the average MCAT scores of students accepted to Duke NUS?

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:30:34 PM)
Thanks Dean.

Ray (Apr 22, 2010 8:30:43 PM)
Dean: Is there a limited space for each race? For male and female?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:31:04 PM)
We are not able to reveal the average scores for now, but we can provide a competitive score range and that would be a score of 30 and above.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:31:40 PM)
Jeanette: Why would the school be appealing to an international student?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:31:42 PM)
Hi Ray. We do not have quotas for males or females or for races. We are looking to create a very culturally and intellectually diverse school.

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:31:50 PM)
Great question, Linda. For international students who are based in the US, there are several challenges for them getting admission into a US med school. Hence, if international students want to pursue a US style med education, Duke-NUS is just about the only school outside of the US that follows a top med school's curriculum and is open to international applicants. 

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:32:10 PM)
Dean: When should an applicant apply Early Admissions to Duke NUS?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:32:42 PM)
All materials need to be in by September 1. Earlier is always better.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:34:08 PM)
Dean: How do you view graduates of post-bac programs relative to applicants applying straight from undergrad programs?

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:35:36 PM)
Jeanette: What is the one thing a 2011 applicant can do now to improve his or her chance of acceptance, assuming good grades and MCAT?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:36:10 PM)
We are open to either. It depends upon the applicant and their potential. We are quite open to admitting students with advanced degrees and are especially keen to increase the number of PhD's in future classes.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:36:39 PM)
Dean: What are the three most important qualities you want to see in an application?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:37:02 PM)
2 things: A passion for medical research and significant medical volunteer work. These 2 factors would help a candidate to really stand out.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:37:38 PM)
Back to clinician scientists, which I think was Dean Stenberg's first comment.

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:38:12 PM)
Passion for Medicine as a calling, a Servant Leadership style, a commitment to lifelong learning and contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:38:55 PM)
Do you have tips for non-traditional applicants?

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:39:11 PM)
With regards to non-traditional applicants, they would need to demonstrate why they are interested in pursuing a path in medicine and medical research. Their non-traditional background could be to their advantage if their grades have demonstrated that they are capable of excelling in science--it shows diversity in the student. Diversity in cultural and academic background is important in the classroom as it offers such interesting point of views and makes learning very exciting. If a student is from a liberal arts background (Lit, Drama etc)... we will welcome your application. :)

Ray (Apr 22, 2010 8:39:12 PM)
Dean, what's the normal process from interview to final decision?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:40:20 PM)
Hi Ray. After the Applicant Day (interviews), the applicants' files are carefully reviewed by the admissions team and members of the Admissions Committee. The Committee meets periodically during Admissions season. After the Committee makes a recommendation, it is reviewed by our Executive Admissions Committee which is composed of senior leaders from Duke and NUS. Then, our Dean reviews the decision. Finally the Academic and Research Sub-Committee of our Governing Board reviews the decisions. As you can see, we have put in place a very thorough process.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:40:58 PM)
You have both alluded to this, but I want to ask directly; is it important for an applicant to have clinical experience or at least exposure?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:41:11 PM)
Hi Linda. We have taken some extraordinary candidates who primarily had research experience. However, this is very rare. We want students who have seriously considered medicine as a calling and a career. Without shadowing and other medical volunteerism, it's very hard for anyone to be in a position to decide whether they truly want to become a member of this profession.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:42:34 PM)
Dean: How do you choose among qualified applicants?

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:44:08 PM)
Hi Linda. We use a holistic approach to admissions. Candidates' files are read by a number of people including members of the admissions committee. The Committee weighs a number of factors and has a very important and challenging job, since we receive applications from students from all over the world whose academic backgrounds are quite varied.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:44:53 PM)
Thank you all for participating today. Special thanks to Dean Stenberg and Jeanette for taking the time this evening to chat with us. For more information on Duke NUS, please visit their website or email them at info@duke-nus.edu.sg. If you would like to be added to our pre-med  announcement list, sign up today. Please check our website for details and exact time. Good luck with your applications! Have a good evening/morning!

JeanetteLaiDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:45:06 PM)
It has been our pleasure, Linda. Thanks for your time.

Linda Abraham (Apr 22, 2010 8:45:51 PM)
You're most welcome. Thanks again for coming. Thanks Ray for joining us!

CraigStenbergDukeNUS (Apr 22, 2010 8:46:02 PM)
Thanks Ray. Thanks Linda. We appreciate a chance to talk about Duke-NUS.

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