Archive for April, 2008

NUS Faculty of Medicine Undergraduate Interview Tips

That’s right. J., in his limited capacity as a newly graduated, haven’t-started-work, no-longer-as-idealistic-or-fresh-faced-as-first-entered-med-school house officer, is going to offer tips on what to say in the interviews to enter the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. He’s not going to talk on ‘duh’ tips like “wear a tie! look neat! don’t wear a miniskirt! speak well!” because that’s just pointless.

No wait, he is. Be sincere. Be honest. At the least, be great at pretending you are. And think, for crying out loud. Remember, at the medical interviews, everyone’s bleedin’ Mother Theresa.

Practise at own risk (AOR). Interview season’s coming!

Addendum: J.’s med school buddy has pointed out that in answering such questions, you should always address the science and the art. For instance, in the first question below, the care for patients and treating the sick is the art, and the cerebral understanding of the situation of a doctor is the science.

Let’s get a few things out of the way first. Watch Grey’s Anatomy. Watch House. Watch Channel 8 medical dramas. Now throw all that out the window. Let’s talk about some potential types of questions.

  1. Why do you want to do medicine? What makes you so sure?

    Allow J. to rephrase this question for you. “Are you a naive or pretentious bastard?” No, seriously. Let’s look at the ultimate cliché: because I want to SAVE LIVES. (pffft)

    Now, unless you’ve spent 3 months doing medical work in 3rd world countries and seen first hand the versatility and importance of doctors in improving the lives of folks, or have been working as a volunteer in hospices and am thus inspired to be a palliative physician AND have the eloquence to say that AND have proof of it… this statement is more likely than not going to make your interviewers roll their eyes.

    Someone once told J. when he was a bright-eyed CSFC student that doctors only cure about 20% of patients, and control disease for slightly more, and just relieve symptoms for a larger percentage. So the curing thing really falls short.

    So what to answer? The truth. There’s no single quality of a doctor, but a combination of everything. A big part of why you want to become a doctor because a medical professional is in a prime position to allay/prevent suffering, but you’d be lying if the combination of social respect, intellectual challenge and a comfortable but not luxurious living didn’t contribute.

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Nepal Trek Day 6: Deurali – MBC – ABC

MBC = Macchapucchre Base Camp
ABC = Annapurna Base Camp

It was a lovely way to start the morning. Waking up at 0500hrs, I stepped out into the brisk, chilly morning air to watch the sky above the mountains slowly light up, illuminating the surrounding snow-covered peaks.

Packing up, we had a good breakfast of milk tea and oat porridge with apple / gurung bread + egg. It seems as though I’m the only person in our group who likes oat porrige. Some claim it’s bland and tastes like cardboard. Ah well.

We hurried in our jackets through the snow-covered avalanche area. The icy trail was well-trodden but still slippery and on more than one occasion, my feet slipped out from under me.

Tip: If you fall backwards, don’t try to brace your fall with your hands. It’s a recipe for wrist injury. Instead, relax and let your comfortable day bag absorb the brunt of the impact. Enjoy the view of the sky, make some snow angels then get up before you get wet from the snow.

I followed closely on one guide’s tail and we arrived at MBC at 0930hrs, roughly 2.5hrs after we had left Deurali. It had an good trek with variable terrain up and down with snow, mud, rock to walk on.

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Nepal Trek Day 5: Bamboo – Dovan – Himalaya – Deurali

Tip: Multiple places in Nepal can have the same name, one example on the Annapurna trails being Deurali. There’s a Deurali between Ghorepani and Tadapani, and a Deurali between Dovan and Machaputre Base Camp. Don’t get confused.

Moving from Bamboo, it began with an upslope, followed shortly after my a downslope before moving down to cross the river. Then it was more climbing up and down muddy trails before crossing the river once more. This requirement may have been partially due to the avalanches and/or landslides that occasionally (rarely) damage the trail sufficient to warrant a detour.

We passed by Dovan early (more on that in a later post), and continued on for a long period of time to reach Himalaya where we had lunch. There was an interesting black dog that appears to have been traumatised by Nepalis previously, she would bark on and on whenever a basket (such as those carried on a headstrap) appeared.

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Movie: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

We interrupt our Nepal Trip series for a more mundane blog post (not that the Nepal series is very nice or anything) on J.’s first movie outing in months and months and months.

There are two completely bullshit movies currently showing at the cinemas: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and Superhero Movie. You can either waste money to waste 1 hour (yes, it’s that short, thankfully) of your life lowering your IQ by 10 points by watching Superhero Movie or have a relaxing laugh at the movies. Guess which option J. and friends chose?

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Nepal Trek Day 4: Chomrong – Sinuwa – Bamboo

Woke up at 0600hrs and it was raining, windy, misty and cold. After a late breakfast at 0800hrs, we packed our things and retired to the rooms to await the passing of the rain, finally leaving around 1015hrs in a drizzle, clad in waterproof jackets and a poncho (me, and usually we all just wear T-shirts). The picture shows what I had for breakfast – Gurung bread, also known as Tibetan bread. It tastes like a gigantic hum chim beng (those from Singapore will understand), and is a form of fried sweet bread eaten with anything from cheese to honey.

After one seriously long kneecap-busting downhill, to be christened the [not-so-]evil steps of Chomrong by a fellow member, where we passed through the long, long village of Chomrong (pictured).

The weather started to clear, and after one upslope climb. We reached Sinuwa where we took a picture with the gorgeous view before lunch at the Sherpa lodge.

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Nepal Trek Day 3: Ghandruk – Kinrong – Chomrong

We woke up early in the morning to go and see the best view around in Ghandruk at the helipad at around 0700hrs. Look at that… Pictures hardly do it justice.

After breakfast, we set off towards Kinrong. It was a stretch of flat land, followed by lots of dowhill, clambering down slightly slippery slopes, using our sticks and grabbing at rocks/tree roots for support. It was along this stretch that we passed by a group from the SPF. It was a boost to learn that after the day before’s gruelling climb, it would be a short trek this day with 3 hours to Kinrong followed by 2 hours to Chomrong.

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Nepal Trek Day 2: Pothana – Landruk – Ghandruk

The initial plan was to take it slow and go from Pothana to Landruk. However, the morning before we< set off, on hearing that it would take us only about 2.5-3 hours to reach Landruk, we offered to continue moving on to Ghandruk (Ghandrung on some maps) in the afternoon.

That morning, we found out that the porters Rek & Yek had cut sticks for us to use as walking poles. It would prove to be a godsend later on, serving as a third limb when our two lower limbs would no longer respond adequately.

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