NUS Medicine vs NTU Medicine - which school is better?

This query comes from a student:

Hi there,

I am currently a JC2 student offering H2 BCME and H3 Pharmaceutical Chemistry. I plan to apply to study medicine locally, however I have heard accounts by acquaintances that NUS's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine is far more prestigious and harder to qualify for compared to NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, notwithstanding the fact it is more established /reputable because it has been around for far longer. Might I know your take on this? Which school in your opinion offers a more rigorous curriculum with possibly greater opportunities for exposure to the healthcare industry career-wise upon graduating? Thanks in advance.

The Response:


We note your interest in medicine.

First of all, is your definition of "more prestigious", rooted primarily in terms of the image projected by an institution, such as a stronger advertising brand name and reputation insofar as the general public is concerned? Or does it take guidance with respect to the proportion of graduates with sound work ethics and technical competence? Some schools are also ranked based on the number of science journal papers they has published lest you aren't aware.

Just FYI, a significant proportion of my Biology students are reading medicine in both local and overseas universities. Interestingly what caught my attention was that a student with apparently non-perfect 'A' Level grades was admitted into NUS Medicine, while another student with straight As and a distinction in H3 Chemistry (who by the way also a national sports representative) ended up in NTU Medicine. Both these students of mine attempted their 'A' levels around the same time.

You've asked very good questions on curriculum and healthcare opportunities that many wish to know too. But I'm afraid answering such key questions via this platform is politically sensitive to various parties involved. Moreover, suitability of a medicine school is more dependent on the fit between school and student, and much less of the school's perceived "ranking". For instance, a positive learning experience depends much on whether your expectations and experiences are aligned with those of the medical school’s style of teaching and choice of ethical medical treatment options articulated in its curriculum.

The following are my personal opinions of a good medicine candidate, as highlighted in one of my earlier responses via this platform:

I salute people who are committed to pursuing medicine as their careers. These are folks who have the fortitude to put in grueling 100-hour workweeks, yet are still able to remain consciously alert over 24-hour stretches as and when required of them whilst on duty; endure endless hurtful complaints from patients and pressurizing demands heaped upon them by higher levels of management (most graduates start out as lowly medical officers). Not to mention they may not be able to adequately match their counterparts in many other industries remuneration-wise given the amount of effort and talent invested.

It is unfortunate that both media and society have warped the mindsets of too many students in overly romanticizing the practising of medicine, only for these unwitting aspirants to later discover for themselves nothing is really what it seems.

Conversely, those who desire to remain in the healthcare industry for the long haul do so because they (1) are extremely motivated to help others in need, (2) are emotionally robust and resilient, and (3) can reconcile the medical establishment's practices with their own ethical principles.

Having said all the above, bear in mind that the greatest regret one can possibly have is perhaps never having taken the plunge to follow one's dreams; regardless we encourage you to conduct more extensive research on prospective courses. Do also consider applying for internships with prospective medicine schools which may help you arrive at a more informed decision in the coming future - remember whatever you eventually choose to study affects not just yourself, but your family as well.

Take care of your health and god bless.Cheers.

Duncan Ang

(Senior Councilor: May 2013 - December 2020)

Answered On 8 May 2019