The current chairman of the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) contributed an article to today’s Straits Times.
The gist of Dr Wong Chiang Yin’s article is that heartlanders, i.e. those who stay in HDB flats, are under-represented in the medical profession.
While 80% of all Singaporeans stay in HDB apartments, only about 45% to 50% of doctors live in the heartlands. And this has been the situation for the past 12 years, as observed by Dr Wong.
The SMA chairman cited the following possible reasons for the disparity: long period of study, high tuition fees (currently at $17,520/yr), lack of study loans (or the awareness thereof), richer students perform better in school, and poorer students performing badly in interviews.
I’d like to add one more point: the rich can also send their kids to overseas medical schools when they fail to get a place in NUS, thus boosting the rich-over-poor ratio. Just look at the “celebrity” doctors (i.e. those who always appear in the media) – many of them were educated overseas.