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Hello All!

 

   This past summer I spent a few months living in Singapore. I was delighted to find out about the Duke-NUS graduate medical program which is a partnership between Duke University and the National University of Singapore, located in Singapore. After doing some research, the huge draw to this school is that they guarantee you a residency. In fact, you must do a residency in Singapore because they have a requirement of 5 years return of service from the day you graduate.

 

   A little about myself, I am in my 3rd Canadian application cycle, and it will likely be my last. I have applied to 12 Canadian schools as well as Duke-NUS. I was just offered an interview at Duke, and I will attend the interview. I am on the non-trad track, have a completed PhD with lots of research and publications, and about 1 year of work experience post-PhD.

 

   I am just curious to know if anyone is currently attending or has attended this school? I know tuition is quite expensive, but compared to other countries and with the favourable exchange rate it seems to be the cheapest option. On top of that, you have the guaranteed residency spot. For me, it seems to be the best option for studying aboard. I would likely stay in Singapore, so getting back into Canada/US isn't a must. They do however, have students write the USMLE steps, so I imagine somewhere down the line it would be possible to go to the US (especially with the Duke part of Duke-NUS).

 

   I would appreciate anyone's thoughts or comments! Thank you in advance.

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Are you sure you are required to do the residency in singapore(gauranteed is nice though)? I thought some of their students did residency in the US also.. i would look into that. That seems confusing, as there wouldn't be a point in having their students take the USMLE steps if they didnt intend on allowing them to apply for residency in the US.

Also, note that if you did do the singapore residency, it would be extremely difficult to come back to Canada/US for work- unless it was in more of a clinical researcher capacity- whereby you aren't seeing patients etc.

Have you not applied to any US MD or DO schools? It seems like there is a good fit for you and DUKE-NUS though, but just make sure you are comfortable with the thought of never practicing in North America, if you did do the singapore residency. Also, make sure how "gauranteed" it is too.

EDIT: Though I am unaware of how the ACGME-I(international) standard works, so perhaps then maybe the singapore residencies fall into some loophole..?

A lot of questions to ask before you go! And good luck on your interview - it does seem like a solid option for yourself :)
 

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You're guaranteed ACGME-I residency which, while being of "equivalent standards", isn't equivalent to an ACGME residency.

One good thing about ACGME-I residency is that you're eligible to apply to fellowships in USA. But i doubt you can practice with a fellowship.

In any case, if you're comfortable staying in Singapore, Duke-NUS seems like a wonderful option. 

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Thank you both for your comments, I appreciate your input.

 

  It seems from their own website, they discourage residencies outside of Singapore,

 

We recommend (and hope) that candidates applying to Duke-NUS are committed to completing their residency training in Singapore. That said, students interested in pursuing postgraduate training overseas may ask the MOH to review their applications. MOH considers, on a case-by-case basis, if an opportunity is created that cannot otherwise be acquired in Singapore.

 

 I am very interested in research, so coming back to North America under that stream would also be a great option for me. I was under the impression fellowships are mostly for research purposes, is that a correct assumption?

 

 I am a little naive about post-residency employment. If I completed my medical education at Duke-NUS, completed a residency (the ACGME-I) in Singapore and also completed all of the USMLE steps, could you apply for medical jobs in the US? Or would you never even be considered? During my PhD studies I knew a Spanish cardiologist with a Spanish MD and residency training who wrote the USMLE steps and then practiced in Boston - or is Europe "on par" with the American system?

 

  I appreciate your guidance in questions to ask - I will definitely bring these up when I go to the interview at Duke.

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Are you sure you are required to do the residency in singapore(gauranteed is nice though)? I thought some of their students did residency in the US also.. i would look into that. That seems confusing, as there wouldn't be a point in having their students take the USMLE steps if they didnt intend on allowing them to apply for residency in the US.

 

Also, note that if you did do the singapore residency, it would be extremely difficult to come back to Canada/US for work- unless it was in more of a clinical researcher capacity- whereby you aren't seeing patients etc.

 

Have you not applied to any US MD or DO schools? It seems like there is a good fit for you and DUKE-NUS though, but just make sure you are comfortable with the thought of never practicing in North America, if you did do the singapore residency. Also, make sure how "gauranteed" it is too.

 

EDIT: Though I am unaware of how the ACGME-I(international) standard works, so perhaps then maybe the singapore residencies fall into some loophole..?

 

A lot of questions to ask before you go! And good luck on your interview - it does seem like a solid option for yourself :)

 

 

   I wish the US schools were an option, but the crazy debt load just isn't something I can handle at the moment. I know the Singapore route isn't cheap either, but it is about half the cost of US tuition (up to $100,000 CAD in US vs. $54,000 CAD in Singapore, also favourable Singapore - CAD exchange rate). Also, in my personal situation, my partner is able to find work in Singapore (with attraction incentives as well, including an apartment), but working in the US as a Canadian without a green card has proven very tricky and unreliable. Its unfortunate how much cost has to figure into a realistic approach to following your dreams!

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Thank you both for your comments, I appreciate your input.

 

  It seems from their own website, they discourage residencies outside of Singapore,

 

We recommend (and hope) that candidates applying to Duke-NUS are committed to completing their residency training in Singapore. That said, students interested in pursuing postgraduate training overseas may ask the MOH to review their applications. MOH considers, on a case-by-case basis, if an opportunity is created that cannot otherwise be acquired in Singapore.

 

 I am very interested in research, so coming back to North America under that stream would also be a great option for me. I was under the impression fellowships are mostly for research purposes, is that a correct assumption?

 

 I am a little naive about post-residency employment. If I completed my medical education at Duke-NUS, completed a residency (the ACGME-I) in Singapore and also completed all of the USMLE steps, could you apply for medical jobs in the US? Or would you never even be considered? During my PhD studies I knew a Spanish cardiologist with a Spanish MD and residency training who wrote the USMLE steps and then practiced in Boston - or is Europe "on par" with the American system?

 

  I appreciate your guidance in questions to ask - I will definitely bring these up when I go to the interview at Duke.

No. I do not think you would be able to be licensed in the US with a singapore residency. But like i said, the ACGME-I thing is a bit new and i dont understand it well.  

 

As for the spanish cardiologist, unless they did their residency training in the US, there is no way their spanish training was what allowed them to practice in the US as a cardiologist - unless of course they are practicing in a non-clinical setting.  Or that this was a long time ago perhaps when policies were more laxed? I don't know, but everything I know points to them having to have redone their residency in the US, or are practicing in a non-clinical setting.

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Thank you both for your comments, I appreciate your input.

 

  It seems from their own website, they discourage residencies outside of Singapore,

 

We recommend (and hope) that candidates applying to Duke-NUS are committed to completing their residency training in Singapore. That said, students interested in pursuing postgraduate training overseas may ask the MOH to review their applications. MOH considers, on a case-by-case basis, if an opportunity is created that cannot otherwise be acquired in Singapore.

 

 I am very interested in research, so coming back to North America under that stream would also be a great option for me. I was under the impression fellowships are mostly for research purposes, is that a correct assumption?

 

 I am a little naive about post-residency employment. If I completed my medical education at Duke-NUS, completed a residency (the ACGME-I) in Singapore and also completed all of the USMLE steps, could you apply for medical jobs in the US? Or would you never even be considered? During my PhD studies I knew a Spanish cardiologist with a Spanish MD and residency training who wrote the USMLE steps and then practiced in Boston - or is Europe "on par" with the American system?

 

  I appreciate your guidance in questions to ask - I will definitely bring these up when I go to the interview at Duke.

 

Fellowships can be clinical or research. A lot of residencies have clinical fellowships which essentially is further training in a subspecialized field. For example if you did a residency in general surgery, you could do a fellowship in breast surgery or trauma surgery. 

 

I'm not too sure on Duke-NUS and whether or not you would be allowed to work in the states. That is something you should explore while you are at the interview or between now and accepting the offer. 

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   I wish the US schools were an option, but the crazy debt load just isn't something I can handle at the moment. I know the Singapore route isn't cheap either, but it is about half the cost of US tuition (up to $100,000 CAD in US vs. $54,000 CAD in Singapore, also favourable Singapore - CAD exchange rate). Also, in my personal situation, my partner is able to find work in Singapore (with attraction incentives as well, including an apartment), but working in the US as a Canadian without a green card has proven very tricky and unreliable. Its unfortunate how much cost has to figure into a realistic approach to following your dreams!

54,000CAD/year for tuition alone in singapore or total cost per year?

 

There are a few US schools that would give scholarships and bursaries to lower the costs, thinking iveys etc.

 

I don't think you ever mentioned your stats also? There are some USDO programs that are 45KUSD/year tuition, and very good programs to boot (KCU in Kansas and MU-COM in Indiana) that could be options.

 

At any rate thats not the point of this thread, I would just encourage you to look more into singapores residency options and all that.

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54,000CAD/year for tuition alone in singapore or total cost per year?

 

There are a few US schools that would give scholarships and bursaries to lower the costs, thinking iveys etc.

 

I don't think you ever mentioned your stats also? There are some USDO programs that are 45KUSD/year tuition, and very good programs to boot (KCU in Kansas and MU-COM in Indiana) that could be options.

 

At any rate thats not the point of this thread, I would just encourage you to look more into singapores residency options and all that.

 

The $54,000 CAD/year is just tuition alone. Of course the cost of living would inflate that figure.

 

The top-tier US schools would be out of reach for me. I understand the low-tier schools don't seem to offer these financial incentives. 

 

 For what its worth, my stats are as follows: 

 

    Undergrad GPA - 3.2 (yup! Not helpful in anyway)

    Grad GPA          - 3.85 (not that it matters)

    MCAT                - 126(Psych)/127(CARS)/128(PS)/131(Bio) = 512

    Publications       - 3 first authors and 6 total (not sure how relevant that is), also many presentations at international conferences (AHA, HRS, etc ...)

    ECs                    - quite a few, tons of volunteer, some topping over 200 hours over many years.

    Awards               - fairly typical, just entrance award scholarships

 

  To be honest, the only reason I didn't apply to the USDO/MD programs this year was because by the time I finished my MCAT (I wrote it end of August) and finished (Oct/Nov) all of my Canadian applications (higher priority) it was wayyyy too late in the cycle to start applications. I could conceivably start applying in the spring for US schools, but with my low stats I'm not sure a low tier US school would be worth the hassle. I am extremely flexible as to where I would live, so southeast Asia doesn't sound bad to me! I also really appreciate the strong emphasis Singapore seems to put into research. An entire year of your MD education is a research rotation!

 

    I appreciate how many different routes one can take toward the MD, but having all of these options makes the decision process that much more complicated. I wanted to thank you all for your input, it is very valuable as it is sometimes hard to find "real" answers to questions from admissions staff/university representatives. 

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As long as you're comfortable with the idea of likely not returning to practice as a clinician in Canada or the US, then I think you have found a good fit for yourself.

Also, make sure you are able to get a bank LOC that is large enough to attend DUKE-NUS...or rather, that you have the funds necessary in some form or another to actually make it feasible.

I should add, that i think you would have a good shot at KCU and MU-COM (DO programs) and a few other of the more reasonably priced USDO programs - but like you alluded too, the cost would be more (USD to CAD exchange is bad now) so it would cost more than DUKE-NUS. However, it would gaurantee you then the option of working in Canada/US.  

I say, attend your DUKE-NUS interview, get some more answers, and then decide after once you get accepted.  Only you will know :) 

 

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  • 5 months later...

I just wanted to update this thread for anyone that might be interested in this route.

 

  I attended the Duke-NUS interview (or "applicants day" as they call it) at Duke University in North Carolina in early January. This interview was more American style than Canadian (i.e. no MMI or panel style interviews). The interview day started at 9 am and we finished around 5 pm. There were only 7 students total that were interviewed on my day, but I heard they were doing interviews the next day as well and assume they also interviewed 7 students. As you can imagine, most of the interviews are done in Singapore, so I have no idea how many people they interviewed overall.

 

  I actually really enjoyed the applicants day. There was a presentation about the school, about their ties to Duke, about their learning style (team lead), and then we did some team-lead activities (with the other interviewees). We had lunch and were able to talk to current students who were actually doing research rotations at Duke. Duke-NUS's entire second year is devoted to research and research alone. If you have a PhD you are actually exempt from this year. This condenses your program into 3 years. In the afternoon we had 2 interviews; one with a current faculty member and one with a student (about 20 mins each).

 

   The program seems very competent, new, and very non-traditional. They showed their stats on who is accepted, and as you can imagine very few North Americans are accepted. It was explained that the 5 year return of service contract tends to scare North Americans away, so the fact that few apply could be why few are accepted.

 

   The cost to apply to Duke-NUS was free. Of course I had to mail in my transcripts, and for me, I had to have my undergrad transcript "translated" by WES (this was actually quite expensive, but if you are from certain schools I don't think you have to do this). Of course, you have to cover your own costs to attend the interview.

 

   Unfortunately after all of this, I was rejected from Duke-NUS via a letter (through snail mail!) at the end of April. I was actually quite upset as this was a path I was genuinely excited to start down. I don't know if I was rejected based on stats, based on interview, or based on my limited connection to Singapore (I only lived there for a few months). The good news is that I was accepted to UBC and will start there in the fall. If I wasn't accepted into Canada, I think I would have re-applied to Duke-NUS.

 

   Overall, I just want to say, Duke-NUS seems like an awesome option if you are comfortable with living in SE Asia for a minimum of 9 years. Tuition is about $56,000 Singapore dollars per year, and you are actually locked into this rate when you start, so they can't change it half way through. You are guaranteed a residency in the country and will be employable when you finish. I would definitely recommend looking into this school further if it sound appealing to you. I would be happy to answer any questions, feel free to PM me!

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I just wanted to update this thread for anyone that might be interested in this route.

 

  I attended the Duke-NUS interview (or "applicants day" as they call it) at Duke University in North Carolina in early January. This interview was more American style than Canadian (i.e. no MMI or panel style interviews). The interview day started at 9 am and we finished around 5 pm. There were only 7 students total that were interviewed on my day, but I heard they were doing interviews the next day as well and assume they also interviewed 7 students. As you can imagine, most of the interviews are done in Singapore, so I have no idea how many people they interviewed overall.

 

  I actually really enjoyed the applicants day. There was a presentation about the school, about their ties to Duke, about their learning style (team lead), and then we did some team-lead activities (with the other interviewees). We had lunch and were able to talk to current students who were actually doing research rotations at Duke. Duke-NUS's entire second year is devoted to research and research alone. If you have a PhD you are actually exempt from this year. This condenses your program into 3 years. In the afternoon we had 2 interviews; one with a current faculty member and one with a student (about 20 mins each).

 

   The program seems very competent, new, and very non-traditional. They showed their stats on who is accepted, and as you can imagine very few North Americans are accepted. It was explained that the 5 year return of service contract tends to scare North Americans away, so the fact that few apply could be why few are accepted.

 

   The cost to apply to Duke-NUS was free. Of course I had to mail in my transcripts, and for me, I had to have my undergrad transcript "translated" by WES (this was actually quite expensive, but if you are from certain schools I don't think you have to do this). Of course, you have to cover your own costs to attend the interview.

 

   Unfortunately after all of this, I was rejected from Duke-NUS via a letter (through snail mail!) at the end of April. I was actually quite upset as this was a path I was genuinely excited to start down. I don't know if I was rejected based on stats, based on interview, or based on my limited connection to Singapore (I only lived there for a few months). The good news is that I was accepted to UBC and will start there in the fall. If I wasn't accepted into Canada, I think I would have re-applied to Duke-NUS.

 

   Overall, I just want to say, Duke-NUS seems like an awesome option if you are comfortable with living in SE Asia for a minimum of 9 years. Tuition is about $56,000 Singapore dollars per year, and you are actually locked into this rate when you start, so they can't change it half way through. You are guaranteed a residency in the country and will be employable when you finish. I would definitely recommend looking into this school further if it sound appealing to you. I would be happy to answer any questions, feel free to PM me!

 

Duke-NUS is a great school, both medical schools are very well regarded. 

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