The (not-so-definitive) guide to applying for NUS Med/YLLSoM & NTU/LKCSoM

Faith’s Med School series: Getting into Med School | Is Med for me? | Life as an M1 | Life as an M2

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been looking around for more info on whether your grades will make the cut for local med, or what the application timeline is like. I remember being in your shoes last year, equally lost and worried as to whether I would be able to make it to a local medical school, and googling for tips didn’t really dig up any results. So, I’ve written this post to shed some light on the application process for NUS & NTU, as well as to give y’all some useless tips on how to prepare your portfolio and the subsequent Focused Skills Assessment + Situational Judgement Test.

Below are some of the topics I’ll be covering in this post:

  • Timeline for NUS
  • Grade requirements
  • NUS Application + Portfolio + EIS
  • NUS: FSA + SJT
  • NTU Application
  • NTU: MMI
  • Admission outcome & the waitlist
  • Is Medicine for you?

Timeline for NUS

Early March A-level results release
Mid March Submit application
End March Shortlisting for the interview + preparation of portfolio
Mid – End April NUS Selection (FSA + SJT)

NTU Selection (MMI)

Early May Notice of acceptance!!
May – End July Accepted/rejected + waitlist

Sorry but I can’t really remember the timeline for NTU, but if you follow the NUS timeline, you won’t miss any of the NTU deadlines either, cos both have extremely similar application processes. And you can’t apply for NTU unless you took the BMAT last November.


Grades

What I appreciate about the new admission system is that grades are only used to filter who makes it to the interviews. Around 3000 people apply, and they’ll shortlist the top 800 or so for the interview stage. Once you’ve been shortlisted, your grades are disregarded and someone who scored 87.5 is as likely to get in as someone with 90 + 2 H3 Distinctions; admission is decided based on how well one performs during the FSA & SJT, which is a much fairer selection process.

  • Don’t quote me on this, but your UAS score probably has to be > 87.5 to get a definite interview call-up via the normal route. It varies from year to year, but if you have 1 H1 or 1 H2 B with otherwise straight As, you’re pretty safe.
  • Even with 1 H1 and 1 H2 B, if you have an A in H1 Chinese or O-level Higher Chinese, you can add 0.25 to your UAS score to bring it up to 87.75, which is usually a safe score unless your batch performed exceptionally well.
  • If you UAS score is below that, or you’re reapplying, you can try the Exceptional Individual Scheme, it admits around 10% of our batch (30+ people). If you do a lot of volunteer work or are a star sports player, you stand a decent chance getting accepted by this route.
  • Not sure about IB, but 43 and above should get you to the interview stage?

Portfolio for NUS

  • Testimonial – It’s the piece(s) of paper given by your school on results day, and you’ll have to get it certified as a true copy at your school’s general office or sth.
  • 2 letters of recommendation – Everyone is going to be rushing their teachers to write good stuff about them in the post A-level flurry, so to make your referee/teacher’s life easier, you can prepare a copy of your CV for them so that they can list some of your achievements and good traits in their letter of recommendation. Write a nice explanatory email to them, saying that you’re requesting for them to write a recommendation for you to apply to med, and make sure you include every little detail in the email and proofread it, because it’s unprofessional to forget to attach stuff or mention important details, as if their inboxes aren’t already flooded by all your other friends applying to uni. Keep track of the deadlines by which you need your referees to submit the letters of recommendation, and gently remind them when the deadline looms, because if they forget, your application goes bust.
  • 1 resume – Follow the guidelines given on the NUS application portal; you’re generally limited to 1 A4 and a certain font size, so if you have too many achievements to fit into one page, make sure you list the most important ones first; don’t include trivial things like ‘Class chairperson’ if you have sth more important like ‘Can do 10 cartwheels’ volunteer work. Personally, I categorised the items on my resume by the domain they fell under, like ‘Community’, ‘Leadership, ‘Academics’, etc.
  • 1 personal statement – You should start working on this right after getting your A level results, because it’s something that takes time to write and has to come from the heart. It’s as much about selling yourself as it is soul-searching the reasons that motivate you to pursue a calling like Medicine. There’s a 1 page word limit and font regulations (Times New Roman + font size 11, if I recall correctly??) Write about yourself and the things that you’ve done that relate to the profession of a doctor (volunteering, leadership, research, etc.); be prepared to be asked questions from your own personal statement and make sure you can elaborate on everything you write in there. Plus, if you wait for them to call you up for the interviews before starting to work on it, you’ll need to get it ready within a week, which may cause sudden death is highly unadvisable.

EIS (NUS Med)

If you’re worried that your UAS score isn’t high enough to make the cut for the interview round, then you could try applying via EIS, which you can read more about here. I can’t provide you with much information on this scheme since I didn’t enter via EIS, but quite a number of batchmates were admitted via this scheme, so this is a viable route if you’re outstanding in other fields and just missed the UAS cutoff by a small margin.

FSA

Disclaimer: I’m not allowed to explicitly mention what goes on in the FSA and SJT, because they made us sign a non-disclosure form, but I’ll try my best to give a rough overview so that y’all will have an idea of what to expect.

  • The Focused Skills Assessment comprises multiple short interview stations that seem more like a fun game show than a scary interview. They aim to test skills that medical students should have in a friendly/low-stress setting.
  • You’ll be assigned to a group of 5 or 6 after registration, and they’ll be the people you’ll be going through the FSA with, and some might become your batchmates. Make friends with them and just chill until it’s time for the FSA to start!
  • There were a total of 5 stations for my year (2016), with a few minutes of prep time before entering the room, with each station lasting 5 minutes. You enter a room and complete the tasks/talk to your interviewer, and once the time for each station is up, a buzzer will sound. You leave the room and wait outside the adjacent room for the next station.
  • I can’t say what each station aims to test, but it’s very obvious what trait they’re looking for once you read the task (while waiting outside the room/station). Just stay calm and do your best; even if you think you’ve messed up, correct yourself and continue on in a composed manner. Don’t scream like a dying chicken or panic excessively, that would probably not work out in your favour cos doctors need to be able to stay calm under pressure.
  • Just remember that your interviewers (who happen to be doctors/ faculty deans) want to get to know you as a person, so be yourself and don’t panic!!! They’re not out to kill you or ask you killer questions, they really do try to make you feel as at ease as possible, which is really nice of them imo.

SJT

  • You don’t need to study for this, but you can if you are kiasu af want to.
  • You’ll be given multiple case studies/situations, and some possible actions that can be taken in response to the situation. You have to judge if the actions are appropriate/inappropriate, but it’s all MCQ so don’t worry.
  • The SJT is very basic, just stick to your everyday morals and you should do okay. Going with your gut instinct is probably the best way to do the SJT, because the more you psychoanalyse the question, the more uncertain you’ll get.
  • If you wanna prep, just google around for free SJT resources for a rough idea of what the questions will look like on the day itself. Having sat for the UKCAT, I found the NUS SJT very similar to the UKCAT SJT section, so check that out if you wanna. 🙂
  • Don’t bother comparing answers with your friends, no one really knows what the ‘correct answer’ is so you’ll only freak yourself out more if you think too much about the SJT after it’s over.

NTU Application

  • Only those who took the BMAT can apply to NTU, which means there’s considerably less competition, and the applicants are actually serious about med.
  • The word limit for the NTU PS is only 300 words (!!!), which means you have to slash most of your NUS personal statement to make the magical 300 word limit. Start work on it early and get your friends/seniors to give you feedback (the more critical they are, the better).

NTU Interview/MMI

  • The MMI (multiple mini interviews) is similar to the FSA, but with more stations. There were 8 stations, and each was 3 minutes long.
  • Our parents were invited to attend the pre-MMI briefing with us, where they explained the differences between NUS & NTU med and why we should pick LKC over YLL (lol @ the rivalry).
  • The atmosphere was also very relaxed, and they plied us with food before starting the interviews!!

Admission outcome & the waitlist

  • As mentioned in the timeline, the first wave of results will be released in early May via an online portal (used for all SG uni applications). Our results were released on 5th May, but some of my friends got theirs a few days/weeks later.
  • Your online portal will show you which courses you’ve been accepted into. If it shows your 2nd/3rd choice instead of Med, then you know you’ve been rejected or at least put on the waitlist.
  • If you didn’t get accepted in the first round, you’ll be on a waiting list. There’s still hope of getting accepted into NUS/NTU when those higher up on the waitlist reject their offers. The waitlist takes a few months to clear, cos some people can’t decide whether they wanna go overseas or take their NUS/NTU place. As long as they don’t reject their offer, the waiting list doesn’t move.
  • The NTU waitlist moved a lot, because a fair number were accepted by both NUS & NTU. Almost everyone picked NUS > NTU, so the NTU list kept moving and a lot more people were suddenly accepted.
  • Some batchmates were accepted as late as mid-July, because some guys couldn’t defer NS, so the space was freed up for them. Don’t give up hope! (until term starts in Aug; by then it’s really too late)

If you have any burning questions that you want to ask me privately,  just fill out the contact form and I’ll get back to you whenever I can (email replies will probably be slower than if you comment here publicly).

2018 edit: Due to the overwhelming number of emails I’ve been receiving, most of which ask similar questions, I’m removing the contact form. So, if you have any questions for me, just leave them in the comment section below, so I can answer it publicly for everyone’s benefit. Do read through the other comments to see if I’ve already answered your query! 🙂

Faith’s Med School series: Getting into Med School | Is Med for me? | Life as an M1 | Life as an M2

xoxo, Faith

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54 thoughts on “The (not-so-definitive) guide to applying for NUS Med/YLLSoM & NTU/LKCSoM

  1. Hi there, just wanted to find out if my chances are significantly reduced because my H2 B is for my chem. I have heard that chem is quite an important factor, but thankfully I did manage to get As for my others subjects, should I still put medicine as my first choice?

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    1. I was in your shoes too haha (B in chem), but thankfully they don’t care which subject you got an A or B in, they only consider your overall UAS score when shortlisting the 800 candidates for the interview round. 🙂 Your UAS score is safe, and definitely high enough to put med as your first choice!

      If you’re worried, you can always apply via EIS, which I did because I was kiasu and worried that my UAS score was too low to make the cut via the normal route. But many people who I met at the FSA/interview also had 1 H2 or 1 H1 B (with A’s for everything else), so we all entered by the normal route. Those with 1 H2 B + 1 H1 B would have needed to apply via EIS, but since your grades are better than that, you can rest easy 🙂

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    1. Hi Zhang Min 🙂 I’m not 100% sure, but yeah I think they’re the same. The 2 letters of recommendation are submitted directly by your referees via the online application portal; just follow the instructions on the NUS portal and everything should be fine! 🙂

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      1. Yep, just follow the dress code given in the letter/email; it’s office wear (pants for both girls and guys)!

        I don’t rmb bringing any documents, cos I /think/ we submitted them online via the application portal (can’t rly rmb). But I rmb bringing the letter (inviting you for the interview) which they mailed to my home. Just follow the instructions, idk if the process will change this year. 🙂

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  2. Hey, I got 1 H2 B + 1 H1B with a uas of 87.75. Is that a safe score as mentioned in ur blog or would I have to submit an EIS application? Also what are the chances of an 87.75 pointer entering medicine?

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    1. I got the exact same UAS score and got in (thank goodness I took H1 Chinese haha), and there’re a lot of people with the same UAS or even lower who made it in. 87.75 is safe for almost every year; it depends on your batch’s A lvl performance though. 🙂 Anyway, I played it safe by applying through EIS, and you should do so too!

      I eventually went by the normal route. For my batch, 87.75 was the safe cutoff, cos some with 87.5 didn’t get shortlisted. I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it haha, so I was really relieved to get the call-up. All the best and if you get called up for the interviews, contact me again and I’ll help you as much as I can! 😀

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  3. Hi faith, thanks for sharing these info with me. Just found out you are a fellow kpop fan too hehe ^_^ Actually I have another concern >< Will it be okay if I submit the same personal statement for medicine portfolio for nus scholarship?(If i get shortlisted)

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    1. Hi ZM, haha it’s always great to find other kpop fans! 🙂 Hmm I don’t really know about the NUS scholarship, but I suppose that you can submit the same PS, unless the requirements state otherwise. Let me know if you get shortlisted/accepted, would be lovely to see you around in school!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that 😦 What’s your 2nd choice and are you gonna accept it? I don’t know of anyone who appealed and succeeded, but don’t give up hope yet; the waiting list might move over the next few months, and if you’re ranked high enough, there’s a small chance you might still get accepted!

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      2. Hi Faith, my second choice is pharmacy. I think I am likely to accept it,to be safe. If I appeal for medicine, my rank on the wait-list will still be the same right?

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      3. Sorry for the late reply, was overseas the past few weeks! TBH I’m not sure how the appeal system works for med, but there’s no harm in appealing. Anyways, I’m sure you’ll do great in pharm, and hope to see you around campus someday! 😀

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    2. Hi there, may I ask how were you informed of NUS medicine rejection? Were you given your second choice straight away or? I’ve yet to receive any news and its nerve wrecking as hell!! 😦

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      1. ah i see. All the best for your future endeavours, I do hope you’ll find a way to pursue Medicine if that’s truly your calling! 🙂

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  4. Hi faith may I know whether there is anyway to prepare for the interviews? E.g read up on medical ethics, recent healthcare issues

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    1. Hello!

      Nope, there’s no academic preparation needed for the NUS interview. 🙂 They’re unlikely to ask about healthcare policies or medical ethics for the NUS interview, and no one I know was asked those kind of questions.

      Feel free to ask me more questions if you do get shortlisted! 🙂 All the best!

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  5. Hi Faith! In about how many days after the application closing date will shortlisted candidates get notified for interviews?

    Thanks!

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  6. Hi Faith, I’ve been shortlisted for FSA in a few days time. Would they ask us about our views on controversial issues like euthanasia/gene therapy etc.? The technical stuffs :/ And also, may I just check, there is only one assessor per station yea? Thank you so much 🙂

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    1. oh and and, i forgot to ask haha, you mentioned in the above post that we will be grouped into groups of 5 to 6; what about the station where they ask us about our personal statement? I understand that there will be a group task station to evaluate our teamwork, but what about stations examining individual characteristics? Will we still go in together as a group? Thank you 🙂

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      1. There’s only 1 station that isn’t individually assessed, which you will complete with your team. The other 5/6 stations are as per normal interviews, which is 1 assessor to 1 interviewee. 🙂

        And nope they won’t ask about medical ethics, because they don’t expect you to know how to handle it yet (that’s why we have ethics modules from M1 all the way to M5, it’s to teach us how to handle tricky ethical situations)! Don’t worry, the interview is 100% non-academic, so just stay calm and give off your best on the interview day.

        All the best and hope to see you in Aug!

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  7. Hi Faith, I’ve just received the offer from NUS Medicine. Thank you so much for answering my questions regarding FSA! 🙂 See you around soon!

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  8. Hi Faith, thank you sharing all this info!!! It s really useful!!! Anyway do u have any advice on how to prepare for the fsa? ( i m rly bad at interviews:( )
    Also, waiting for ur update for life as m2!!!

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    1. Sorry for the late reply, Jane!

      FSA isn’t as formal as a real interview, and it’s more about how you react to different situations, so just be yourself and don’t overprepare! Just be clear about why you want to do Med, and be able to elaborate on any given item on your CV cos they might ask you about that in one of the stations. Being nervous will affect your performance and prevent them from seeing your true self, so just try your best to stay calm and do your best! 🙂

      My “Life as an M2” post will be up in March, so be sure to keep an eye on my blog till then! ^_^

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    1. Hi there, I guess I would advise you to be consistent with your revision for all the subjects and don’t leave any topics till last minute, cos cramming doesn’t yield good results and only creates more stress (which will also affect your performance during exams). Make sure to get consultations with your teachers if you need help with a specific topic, they are more than willing to help and asking them to explain things can help save a lot of confusion and time! Or you could ask your friends for help for minor problems; everyone is there to help and support you in achieving good results!

      Make sure to get enough sleep, cos you’ll be able to learn more quickly and retain information better if you’re not sleep deprived! And I know it’s very cliched, but your A level results don’t define you, so while you want to do well, don’t be too hard on yourself even if you underperform, it will all work out in the end. 🙂

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  9. Hi Faith! Assuming one gets a UAS score of 87.75, and ranks Medicine as second choice, would they potentially not get shortlisted for FSA & SJT, because they didn’t rank it as first choice despite a non-perfect score? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Coco, I had a friend who put Dentistry as her first choice and Med as second, and she was called up both interviews. As long as you make the cutoff point (varies from year to year), you’ll be called up for the interview regardless of whether it’s your 1st or 2nd choice! ^_^ All the best with your application!

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      1. I see! But if one applies via EIS because s/he didn’t make the cutoff point, ranking Medicine as first choice is crucial I assume? Thanks again! 🙂

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      2. Haha I’m not sure about that, no idea if the profs in charge of the admission interviews are aware of what rank we put Medicine as, though almost everyone I know put it as 1st. (Only my friend who wanted Dentistry put Med as her 2nd choice.)

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  10. Hello Faith! Is it possible for a student already pursuing a university course at present to apply to YYLSoM? Do you know of anyone in your cohort or above/below you who successfully transferred into YYLSoM or gained admission after having made headway into another degree beforehand? I’m a Year 2 student at another uni who is considering applying. Thank you!

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    1. Yep I know of a 2nd year Nursing student who reapplied and managed to get in (he’s now a 1st year), but I think you have to withdraw from your current course first. And you’ll be ‘resetting’ your progress in uni, cos you’ll be admitted alongside all the younger kids as a 1st year; they don’t allow transfers.

      Not too sure how to advise you cos I’m unfamiliar with it, maybe you could check the admission website or contact the school to find out more, since yours is an exceptional case. 🙂

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      1. Ahh I see! Thanks for your advice 🙂 I don’t think I’ll be applying bc it’d be such a waste to withdraw (three semesters of hard study down the drain) and it’s a huge risk (compelling reason(s) must undoubtedly be shown for admission on such special basis). Also, my current course is completely unrelated to Medicine, unlike the Nursing student you mentioned. Do you think it would be possible to apply to YYLSoM after having obtained a degree?

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      2. YLLSoM is strictly for undergraduates, so if you’re still interested in Medicine after graduation, I’d advise applying to Duke-NUS or overseas postgrad schools. Postgrad schools are still very competitive, so if you’re in an unrelated course, be sure to make sure you start preparing a portfolio that reflects an interest in med (though idk anything about postgrad schools so you should read up about that path by yourself, sorry I can’t help!)

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    1. Haha no one really asked about each others’ UAS or IB scores once we got into med school, so I don’t really know what the lowest is. Those who enter via EIS are likely to have lower scores (but still high in comparison to most A lvl candidates), and the lowest score I’ve heard was someone who got B’s in 2 H2 subjects and A’s in everything else.

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  11. Hi Faith!

    Do you know of any friends who are private candidates and entered Med school? Do private candidates get discriminated against for repeating A levels? Recently I have gotten my A levels results and had a sudden realisation that I really, really, want to get into Med school when I saw that my results weren’t desiring. As such I am actually planning to retake A levels and really put in 101% efforts into it but at the same time I am worried that Med schools will not desire someone who doesn’t do well at first try.

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    1. Hi bloop, sorry but I don’t know of any private candidates so I can’t advise you on this. And I’m not sure if it’ll be reflected on your A lvl cert that it’s your 2nd attempt, so I really can’t offer you any help, sorry! ><

      Perhaps if your financial situation allows for it, you could apply to IMU, a good medical uni in KL (which offers bridging to UK/Aus medical schools)! Do check it out and contact me again if you'd like to know more about IMU. 🙂

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    1. Haha almost everyone who gets to choose btwn NUS and NTU picks NUS, mainly cos it has a more established curriculum, a shorter academic year (8-9 months vs 11 months) and the cohort is larger (i.e more friends!).

      It ultimately depends on which teaching style you prefer (you can find more info on that on the respective school’s websites), and which med school your close friends were accepted into. I chose YLL cos a lot of my friends were headed there as well. 🙂

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  12. Hi faith! If one applies via EIS but makes the cut-off UAP for that year, do they need to resubmit everything again? (Referees etc) Thanks!

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    1. Sure, I’ll ask my friend in Dentistry! PM me your email on my FB page, I’ll pass it on to her and get her to contact you if she’s free to help. 🙂

      Edit: My friend suggested doing internships at dental clinics to decide if the job is aligned with your interests, as well as practice for the manual dexterity test. Lmk if you would like additional info!

      Like

  13. Hi,
    When, where and how to start doing internship or attachments or volunteer works in JC to start building portfolio and also to see if medicine is the one that is suitable for him/her? Can you share your personal experience with regard to that? Does it affect the success rate of application a lot?
    Thanks.

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    1. Hi Pris, thanks for your question!

      1) Volunteering: It’s never too early to start, don’t volunteer for the sake of CIP hours or portfolio, make sure you find a organisation/cause that you’re passionate about so that it’ll be fun and meaningful for you!
      2) Internships: You can apply for NUH’s job shadowing programme, where you’ll be attached to a doctor for 3 days. You could also work part time at a GP clinic (as a receptionist) or shadow a GP (maybe you could ask your family doctor).
      3) Does it guarantee success: I know of people who got in despite having done 0 volunteering, as well as ppl who were rejected after years of volunteer work. Of course doing CIP shows a certain level of commitment, kindness and selflessness, which is what they’re looking out for, so it will definitely strengthen your application (but it doesn’t guarantee admission). Remember, quality >> quantity!

      An internship or a short-term shadowing really isn’t enough to make an informed decision as to whether medicine if your calling. Trust me, it gets very tiring when you have to work 12-hour days for a few years straight, while your non-doctor friends have a better work-life balance. But it’s a very fulfilling job, so to me, it’s more than worth the sacrifice and exhaustion! 🙂

      Like

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