FAQ

When I talk to someone (particularly for the first time), I am often asked certain questions when the other party learns more about me. For both parties’ benefit (so as not to consistently repeat myself; ensuring that regardless of the identity of the questioner, everyone gets the same consistent and accurate response), I have decided to publish my official and up-to-date response to certain questions I normally get over here.

I hope to include more question-answer sets here as time passes. Naturally, I may also have to update my response as time passes. To assure you of the response’s relevance, I have included an indicator at the bottom of each answer to show when the answer was last edited.


Alphabetical index of questions

Tip: Use Ctrl+F or Command-F (for Mac users) to jump to the relevant question. If anyone can teach me how to set up hyperlinks on the questions in this alphabetical index where readers can immediately jump to the relevant response upon clicking the hyperlink, I would be most grateful…

Why did you transfer from Flinders to NUS?
Why the interest in family medicine/general practice?
Why the interest in ophthalmology?


Why did you transfer from Flinders to NUS?
That’s a good question, and one that I’m asked a lot, given the unique path that I’ve taken. I was actually first aware of the possibility of a transfer only in March 2020 when due to COVID, NUS YLLSoM (in conjunction with MOH) decided to establish more slots to accept more transfer students than usual. Before COVID, there would typically only be a few transfer students every year. However, with COVID, approximately 30 people transferred into Year 2 alone, and the school even decided to accept its inaugural batch of five transfer students into Year 3 for AY 20/21. I’m not sure how sustainable this is for the long-term, but what happened in 2020 happened. I applied for a transfer in 2020 for the first time but was unsuccessful for various reasons. I decided to apply again in 2021, and secured the offer to officially continue my medical studies in NUS in AY 21/22.

I decided to transfer back for multiple reasons:

1) relative huge reduction in costs (studying medicine as an international student is incredibly expensive); this would greatly alleviate the financial burden on my parents who had been graciously supporting my overseas education
2) reducing uncertainty associated with the decision regarding where I would practise in the future
3) appreciate being back in my country as a citizen (there are many benefits of being a citizen; this is in contrast with being a foreigner on a student visa in another country)
4) not having to deal with time zone differences; it certainly doesn’t help that Adelaide is in a strange time zone – along a half-hour mark. Depending on the time of the year, it is either 1.5 or 2.5 hours ahead of Singapore. You’d feel this annoyance when scheduling online meetings with people back in Singapore. I must say that this is still a lot better than having to live in the UK or the US though. The time zone differences over there make it tougher to keep in touch with people back in Singapore.

I miss the weather and culture at Adelaide though.

Above answer last edited: 11 Sep 2022

Why the interest in family medicine/general practice?
Family medicine/general practice is the bedrock of the healthcare system in Singapore. Working as a GP is attractive because of the relatively forgiving working hours (compared to that of the hospital), and the decent pay. The extent of work-life balance which a field offers is something that many people consider when they harp on the path they wish to take; thus, for this reason, family medicine is something I find alluring. Nevertheless, I am not ruling other options prematurely, lest my supervisors and senior doctors feel that another field is more apt for me given my particular idiosyncrasies, individual attitude, and aptitude.

Above answer last edited: 30 August 2022

Why the interest in ophthalmology?
Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. I find the eye and its adnexal structures fascinating; for such a relatively small region of the body, there is so much to it. Did you know that ophthalmology has around 8-12 subspecialties (depending on which list is used)? According to the list of clinical subspecialties of ophthalmology put forth by SNEC (Singapore National Eye Centre), there are 11 of them:

  • Cataract & Comprehensive Ophthalmology
  • Corneal & External Eye Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Medical Retina
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Ocular inflammation & Immunology
  • Oculoplastic
  • Ophthalmic Pathology
  • Paediatric Ophthalmology & Adult Strabismus
  • Refractive Surgery
  • Surgical Retina

As someone who has myopia and has a rather bittersweet relationship with my glasses, I value the sense of sight a lot – probably even more than people blessed with natural 6/6 vision. I share more about my glasses and my journey with myopia in this blog post that I had published previously. Did you know that among the traditional senses, sight is regarded as the most valuable one? Dealing with myopia has contributed to my fascination with how our eyes and its adnexal structures work. Naturally, I wish to learn what I can about it – the anatomy and physiology of the globe and its adnexal structures. I also want to learn about how the visual system can function abnormally, and what can be done to restore people’s vision as much as possible. As such, it is quite natural to want to pursue admission into an ophthalmology training programme as that will put me in a position where I’d naturally be able to learn more about the visual system.

In addition to my fascination with the workings of the visual system in human beings, there are some characteristics of a career in ophthalmology which I find quite attractive:

  • Cool technology/gadgets
  • Good work-life balance (there are relatively few ophthalmic conditions which demand emergent management)
  • Operations are often quick, and allow for huge improvements in the quality of life of patients
  • Good compensation
  • Good mix of surgery and non-surgical management

Nevertheless, despite all that I’ve said above, I’m also acutely aware of the fact that ophthalmology is a rather competitive specialty. Only time will tell where I’ll ultimately find myself. While I can say I lean towards ophthalmology now, it’s quite hard to predict the future. As the years pass, my priorities may change due to unforeseen life circumstances, and this may cause me to go down an entirely different path instead. Who knows what would happen?

I suppose this element of unpredictability of life is also what makes life so interesting, isn’t it? How boring it would be if you knew with full certainty how everything would play out every single day from now till the day of your death.

Above answer last edited: 30 August 2022