Personal Statement

Name: Lee Jie Lin Jaslyn Candidate index number: C11276

My interest in Medicine stems from a love of biology. While I have been fascinated since a young age by not just the human body but all manner of life, I especially liked learning about the human systems – I was captivated by how the body is intricate and delicate, yet at the same time resilient and amazingly adaptable. This discovery lit in me a desire to learn more about diseases and injuries, and how the body copes with them. Reading a special report in The Straits Times about clinical pathologists and their work further piqued my interest and dispelled my childish notion of doctors as authoritative figures in white coats examining patients and prescribing medicine. My mind was opened to the breadth of possibilities in Medicine, and I was eager to see for myself what being in the medical community really entailed. My chance came when I went on the Talent Attachment and Grooming programme with the ENT department at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Through observing surgery and consultations from a doctor’s standpoint, I have perhaps come a little closer to the true form of medical practice. I was struck immediately by the way the doctors and medical staff complimented each other as they strived to put patients at ease during endoscopy or hearing and balance tests, and by their sense of purpose and professionalism as they communicated with patients during consultation. Though I saw for myself the hectic, mentally and physically demanding life of a doctor, I also felt the doctors’ sense of accomplishment as they narrowed down on the diagnosis for each patient, and pride and satisfaction when patients returned after surgery with their surgical wounds beautifully healed. I enjoyed interacting with the patients as every individual had unique circumstances and presented a new challenge to communicate with and examine. Today, their faces and worries still leave a deep impression on me – a man with a lump at his throat declining surgery due to financial concerns, a soft-spoken lady with damaged eardrums; they fuel my desire to be part of a medical team, working with competence and drive to alleviate their suffering or at the very least shed light on their ailments. My encounters as a volunteer have helped cement my desire to read Medicine. As an organising team member of the “Pebble Painting, Arts for Health@SGH” project which enabled patients to spend their waiting time meaningfully and enlivened the hospital with the arts, I was honoured to be able to provide a listening ear for patients and their families, which allowed me to see from their perspective and empathise better with their frustration and resignation about the hospital stay or visit. In Bangalore, India, I assisted the building of a new lunch shed and met and taught English to children from a slum school. The trip exposed me to the poor standards of living in third world countries and made me more sensitive to people. I volunteered to tutor underprivileged students in the LIFE Programme, relying on my patience and optimism to guide them in their studies, and in return found much gratification in seeing them take away something from my teaching. These experiences further strengthened my belief that communication is crucial to Medicine and that patients will be my motivating factor throughout my studies and work. Other endeavours have nurtured qualities that I trust will prove indispensable in my pursuit of becoming a good doctor. I am privileged to have been granted several opportunities in research, including a 6-month attachment with the Bioprocessing Technology Institute, A*STAR. There, I learnt to work at experiments meticulously, logically and with integrity, and relished the challenge of problem-solving and troubleshooting. Undoubtedly as it is with Medicine, I saw how theoretical knowledge is essential in honing crucial skills that must be learnt on the job or through experience. My sense of commitment enabled me to give my best for 9 years with the choir, 6 years with the study of Japanese and 15 years playing the Electone, and my positive attitude and mental strength helped me to bounce back from setbacks faced in all three. Exchanging views with students during immersion trips to Japan has given me a world view and broadened my perspectives. I have thus come far from my initial, simple interest towards the human body. I now see Medicine as an amalgamation of my passions in biology, research, education and human interaction. More importantly, its multi-faceted nature as a science, a service and a lifelong craft makes it an excellent avenue for personal development, and its many setbacks and sacrifices come in exchange for poignant lessons about humanity and humility and also a sense of truly giving back to society unrivalled by any other profession. Medicine is an extremely meaningful and fulfilling path that I would sincerely like to undertake in life.

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