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I AM Academic Medicine SingHealth Excellence Awards

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me + Spotlight

me + Living

30 Take5 : Dr Toh Han Chong

SingHealth Excellence Awards 16 Visionary Leader


17 Champion of Change

01 Dr Mimi Yow — The First Steps

19 Distinguished Educator

02 On the Cover : Pioneers of Medicine

20 Distinguished Mentor

18 People Leader

21 Distinguished Researcher 03

Clinician Scientist Awards


24 Dr Tina Wong

me + Group

25 A/Prof Marcus Ong Academic

26 Dental research in NDC


I AM Academic Medicine 28 IT in SingHealth

03 I AM Caring



04 I AM Teaching 05 I AM Innovating

me + Horizon

15 Attracting talents 22 International faces at SingHealth

34 Work-life balance

Special Report Duke-NUS Pioneer Batch 06 Duke-NUS report card 10 Dukies on campus

36 Announcement & contests

Pepper Global Alvin Ee Richard Soh Michael Koek

SingHealth Editorial Team Tan-Huang Shuo Mei Amelia Champion Katheryn Maung Arthur Wong Stephanie Jade Arlindita Rozlin bte Othman

75B Pagoda Street Singapore 059234 Tel: +65 6221 1286 Photography for cover and home feature: A Pixels Photography Pte Ltd Copywriters: Monica Lim and Debbie Chia

me+SingHealth or me+SH (pronounced /mesh/) represents who we are in SingHealth—as intertwining threads conveying synergy and complementing one another to form a beautiful fabric. me+SH links you to the action in all of SingHealth and around the healthcare industry.


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Members of the SingHealth Group

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Guest Editor

THE FIRST STEPS “The first steps you take on any journey Won’t get you where you want to go. But without those first steps And the many more that follow, You would always be standing right where you are, Looking towards the future and wondering What it would really be like To see the world the way you always dreamed it could be.” Nick Santana (author)


ioneers are sighted with visions that sense a direction into the future. The pioneering spirit defies the order of things, to take that first step to dare to do things differently. But what is more important is the renewal of the desire to constantly take those first steps.

Location: Machu Picchu, Peru

DR MIMI YOW Senior Consultant, Department of Orthodontics Co-director, Orthodontic Residency Program Chairperson, SingHealth-Duke-NUS Oktoberfest (2008-10)

Traditions spawn campus cohesion. Camaraderie and a spirit of the campus are fostered and slowly woven by the warp and weft into its social fabric; our own SingHealth and Duke-NUS collaboration in Oktoberfest evokes this spirit. Formal or informal gatherings are potent crucibles on campus, to spark off and blaze new trails, to push the frontiers of medicine into the future and beyond. When hospital staff, faculty, residents and students get a chance to know one another, it engages a diversity of minds and expertise. By bouncing wild ideas off each other, the curious and the creative will find answers to many medical mysteries. Competence in healthcare demands more than theories, facts and skills. It requires a translation of hard sciences to the heart of medicine. Medical practice has much to do with having a heart in the right place and a passion in purpose to restore health and the well-being of patients. There is healing when hearts and minds connect in compassion, and communicate with concern. There is no panacea to replace the human touch in healing. To practise is a privilege and this privilege is the torch passed on to the cohort of pioneers in medicine, the first graduates of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. As with all pioneers, much expectation is heaped upon them: to use their heads, hands and hearts to light a new dawn and to forge a new era in medicine. We look forward to many pioneering footsteps that will inspire the trampling of new paths ahead.

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A/Prof Loo recounts his encounter with Liming and her classmates. “We were in the Intensive Care Unit discussing about medications, then Liming went on to describe in great details the dose, indication, and side effects of the drugs. I was wowed! “Someone then whispered that Liming was a pharmacist before she took up medicine!” A/Prof Loo wishes that “this graduating batch would excel in whatever field they choose to do and in the end surpass us, their teachers.”

Read more about A/Prof Loo’s love for teaching in page 4.

ONG LIMING Pioneer graduating batch student, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School “Four years in Duke-NUS has allowed me to find my desired career path. It also developed my reasoning and thinking skills, which are very useful in my career in medicine” Liming described A/Prof Loo as a very encouraging mentor that never fails to highlight practicality and emphasise patient care when he teaches.

Ms Ong Liming, A/Prof Loo Chian Min


PIONEERS OF MEDICINE: DUKE-NUS’ FIRST BATCH OF GRADUATES The partnership between Duke-NUS and SingHealth will bear its first fruits this May, as the first batch of students graduate and start their careers as doctors. A/PROF LOO CHIAN MIN Adjunct Associate Professor, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School “A pioneer is someone who does something different and makes a difference to others. A pioneer has the courage to face the challenge and know that he will succeed.”

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A/Prof Loo, along with other clinicians from SingHealth institutions, are the teaching faculty that guide students in their clinical rounds and facilitate classes in Duke-NUS.

Not limited to the science of medicine, Liming has also learned much through voluntary services she organised as Community Service President during her time in Duke-NUS. Studying medicine brings together what she enjoys most together — people and science. After graduating, Liming will be doing her residency in Pediatrics in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “I am really excited to be graduating soon and having my own patients to care for!”

Find out more about the Duke-NUS students’ journey in pages 10-13.

Teaching the students bring about “very diverse points of views because the students come from different backgrounds.”

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hey say it takes one to know one, and in Dr Esther Chuwa’s case it can’t be more true.

Having to cope with her mother’s diagnosis of cancer at the young age of 17, Dr Chuwa is in the perfect position to help her patients.

But a doctor has to treat more than the body. Dr Chuwa is also concerned with the minds and spirits of her patients. That is why she actively advocates improving the psychosocial aspects of breast cancer patients through a structured, evidence-based breast cancer support group.

She works at the Breast Unit of KKH as a breast surgeon, shouldering the responsibility of delivering the bad news and then treating women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Set up in 2008, Alpine Blossoms is a support group with various stages of care for patients from diagnosis, through treatment and even beyond recovery.

“It’s easier for me being a female because I can hold their hand, talk to them and listen to their response. Then I reassure them that we are capable of treating them well despite it being breast cancer,” relates Dr Chuwa.

Realising that the most vulnerable time for breast cancer survivors is after they complete their treatment, Alpine Blossoms provides a series of programmes so that patients do not feel like they’ve been left alone.

After delivering the unfortunate news, the next step for her is to educate the patient on their illness.

Not just scraping the surface of psychological support, Alpine Blossoms also implements information support with educational programmes and workshops.

“Having experienced it first hand, it helps me emphatise with my patients and their families. That’s why I spend a lot of time explaining what cancer care entails. “I’m all for patient education, and I think they need to know what they’re in for. I want them to be provided with the right information and be empowered to make the right decisions for their treatment to prevent recurrence,” she affirmed.

As to how important this support is to her patients, Dr Chuwa puts it simply, ‘how well you live as a cancer survivor is probably as important as how long you’re going to live’.

Academic Medicine

Caring Dr Esther Chuwa Consultant, Breast Unit, KKH

The I AM series profiles SingHealth staff who are key drivers of Academic Medicine — those who through their outstanding contributions help define tomorrow’s Medicine.

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/Prof Loo Chian Min is a very busy man. In two days he’s seen numerous patients, undergone two photoshoots, one interview, several meetings, and a whole lot of emails on his Blackberry. But from the hurried footsteps and packed schedules comes an equally energetic fervor for medical education.

A/Prof Loo to embark on teaching the pioneer batch of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School students in 2006, who graduates this year (read about them in pages 6-14). He is naught but proud of his pioneer batch.

As many doctors before him, A/Prof Loo places great importance on teaching.

“I am glad to say that the faculty has done well and we would want all the students to be our residents because we have a lot of confidence and are very happy with them.

It was 1990. A then Dr Loo, fresh out of medical school, was faced with a patient who had just collapsed. It was also his first day on call.

“This is also something that will spur the faculty on and hopefully produce future batches that will surpass the first.”

The patient’s blood pressure was dropping, he was getting increasingly breathless; the ECG began to slow and then eventually stopped. The young doctor panicked.

A/Prof Loo sees this milestone as a team effort by the faculty at both SGH and Duke-NUS — who have studied, planned and modified the curriculum of their students from day one.

“It was really terrifying, but fortunately the Medical Officer (MO) on call that day was very calm and collected. He took care of the situation and was the main person behind the resuscitation.

He thinks it will also be a team effort that brings medical education into the future.

“He set a good example and I learnt the importance of being calm and collected in the face of an emergency,” he recalled. Such is the environment that A/Prof Loo hopes to bring to medical education in SingHealth. From the textbooks to the wards, the passing of knowledge and wisdom from doctor to doctor ensures the continued progession of patient care.

“We must see education as part and parcel of our work as clinicians — just like our ward rounds and clinics. I feel that education should be like second nature to us, and we have the responsibility to push ourselves a little more to train new doctors that will surpass the current generation.” With a team of clinician educators supporting him at SingHealth, A/Prof Loo’s vision of medical education may be realised sooner than he thinks.

Perhaps it was the impressive show of example by the MO that also inspired

Academic Medicine

Teaching A/PROF LOO CHIAN MIN Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, SGH Adjunct Associate Professor, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore

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Academic Medicine

Innovating DR WILLIAM HWANG Medical Director, Singapore Cord Blood Bank Senior Consultant, Department of Haematology, SGH


t takes a certain kind of passion to delve into the realm of medical research. A researcher has to be relentless in his pursuit as well as creative in his methods, working for the greater purpose of tomorrow’s Medicine. Meet Dr William Hwang. He specialises in the study of blood. Cord blood to be exact. And it’s got Dr Hwang all excited. “Blood stem cell transplant has traditionally been restricted by the fact that you must need a full-matching donor, which not every one can find. “Cord blood transplantation has expanded the number of donors we have available and many more patients can find the match that they need,” Dr Hwang explained. One limitation of this method is the relatively small amounts of cord blood cells that can be transplanted. At the helm of the research at the Singapore General Hospital, the DukeNUS Graduate Medical School and Singapore Cord Blood Bank, Dr Hwang and his team plan to change that by trying to increase the number of cells available for infusion by expanding them in culture. But research can sometimes be defeating – successes are sown from dozens of failed attempts. For example, in a recent cord blood transplantation

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study in the laboratory, when two cord blood units were infused into mice, the cord blood unit that was expanded in culture “lost” to the unexpanded unit. However, Dr Hwang believes that even in failure there are lessons to be learnt. “Failure is part of research. The reason we do it is to find out if something would work. When experiments don’t work or have the outcome that you expected it can be quite daunting. “Sometimes amidst the failure, if you look at it carefully, there is actually a hidden meaning behind the results and it tells you something afresh,” he said. When his team looked at the results, they were delighted to find that even though the expanded cord blood “lost”, it somehow managed to help the unexpanded cord grow much better. When they looked deeper, they found that this was likely because of properties of the expanded cells. “It wasn’t what we expected, but on the other hand the experiment went very well — the expanded cord blood cells somehow helped the non-expanded cells to engraft. We also found later that human clinical trials showed similar results,” Dr Hwang said. And that is his bottom line — that eventually patients will be the ones benefiting from his research.

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or the longest time, medical education has been considered a sacred cow. So when Duke-NUS decided to take a radical approach, it met with skepticism from many quarters. “We felt we had a great idea,” Dr Sandy Cook, Senior Associate Dean, Curriculum Development of DukeNUS said candidly. “But there was no precedence for this strategy and we were really going by faith that it would work.” Now, four years on, with the pioneer intake of Duke-NUS students ready to graduate in May 2011, they have earned the right to say with every certainty that their staunch belief in the program has been well placed. The results achieved by the students have been nothing short of outstanding, exceeding all expectations. In the International Foundations of Medicine Examination, two DukeNUS students emerged among the top ten of about 2,000 candidates from around the world. Some 34% of the class scored within the top 10% of the exam, and received a certificate of excellence. Similarly in the United States Medical Licensing Examination, Duke-NUS students scored above the US national average, even impressing their counterparts from Duke, Durham. In fact, Duke has already sent several faculty to study the pedagogy of Duke-NUS, with every intention of applying the same methodology back home.

Preliminary data at KKH has also shown that, to everyone’s surprise, patients liked having the medical students attend to them because the students had more time to listen to their stories and had better continuity of care with them. This in turn, means more holistic and better care.

point of view than the other students who had little previous experience with patients. People mistakenly think medical training as a graduate student is an “education startover”. It’s not. They’re bringing their wealth of experience to the training and adding medical training to it.

With SingHealth progressing d towards academic medicine and Duke-NUS moving in tandem, itt looks like a perfect partnership has been born. rom So what sets Duke-NUS apart from other medical schools?

Celebrate and Leverage age on Student Diversity Duke-NUS welcomes students from varied backgrounds and educational qualifications. Duke-NUS students have already earned Bachelors, Masters and PhDs in a variety of areas from the arts and humanities to science and engineering. This, according to Prof Bob Kamei, Vice-Dean of Education, Duke-NUS, is one of the key strengths of the program. “If you’re going to be on the leading edge of medical science, you have to look at problems in new ways,” he explains. “I remember sitting in the first year class and a student, who was a nurse, was able to see a problem from a much more patient-centric

“We don’t just want the straight A student. Problem-solving is more than following best practices by memorising facts, it takes passion, dedication and the ability to see a problem from different angles. That’s why we look for people who are multi-dimensional.”

Prof B ob Kam ei, Vice -Dean o f Educ ation

This is where the value lies. And with learning done in teams, the students bring these diverse backgrounds to help educate their team mates.” These students hail from different countries and among them are two world-class sailors, a Peabody scholar who has competed at the prestigious International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition, a world class fencer and a chess champion. To Prof Kamei, these achievements are examples of the students’ creativity and mettle. “We don’t just want the straight A student. Problem-solving is more than following best practices by memorising facts; it takes passion, dedication and the ability to see a problem from different angles. That’s why we look for people who are multi-dimensional.”

— Prof Bob Kamei, Vice-Dean of Education

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The Man Behind The Team A paediatrician by training, Prof Bob Kamei had the largest general pediatric practice at the University of California, San Francisco, when he was asked to become the Director of the residency training program and take overall responsibility for the training of the pediatrics residents. When he expressed concern over taking this role and giving up time to treat his patients, his mentor replied, “Bob, by training residents, you will be helping treat their patients.” Having trained approximately 450 paediatricians over a period of 17 years, Prof Kamei is a fervent believer in the impact of teaching. “Physicians have a social commitment to pass on the knowledge,” he expounds. “I find it inspiring to be around brilliant minds and my students spur me to improve.” The next step for Prof Kamei is to implement Team-based Learning into clinical training.

The Power of Teambased Learning At Duke’s campus in the US, it was found that attendance at lectures had been dwindling, since students prefer to watch the video lectures at their own time outside of the classroom. Student feedback revealed that while they studied much of the “whats” and “hows” in their medical training, they did not always understand the “whys”. They didn’t understand how the science they were learning actually applied to clinical medicine.

Dr Cook admits that the debate is sometimes so challenging, even the faculty themselves are stumped! “But this is excellent because as doctors and teachers, the worst scenario is to think that we have all the answers. The best doctors and teachers continue learning all the time.”

Thus began a massive exercise and opportunity for Duke-NUS to redesign a different form of teaching, to provide students with a better educational experience. The result was TeamLEAD – a ground-breaking approach utilising the team-based learning concept. Instead of attending a class to amass information, students at Duke-NUS are expected to do independent learning before they attend a class. This allows students the flexibility of studying at their own pace – an important factor especially since the students hold vastly different or pockets of existing knowledge. For instance, a PhD holder in microbiology will have pre-knowledge of certain modules compared to someone with an anthropology major. In class, students sit for a Readiness Assurance Test, to assess their understanding of key concepts both as individuals and as a team. Established clinicians partner with basic scientists as faculty to ffacilitate discussions where teams c pose additional questions and can o other teams are assigned to a answer them.

S Students then move to a practical a application of the material t through problem-solving , n a e D ciate a activities. They are allowed to r Asso , Senio t k o o u textbooks and the internet to use C n y e d n m a p Dr S evelo quickly answer questions they don’t ulum D Curric know or facts they don’t remember that are necessary to solve these problems.

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The active engagement of students means much higher-level discussions, moving away from basic concepts and delving into the “whys” of medicine.

Studies have shown that students learn best by teaching and interacting with each other, instead of passively from a lecturer. TeamLEAD harnesses that power and translates it into results. As Prof Kamei succinctly puts it, “To teach is to learn twice.”

“The best doctors and teachers continue learning all the time.” — Dr Sandy Cook

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Set out to Groom Clinician-Scientists

“A good doctor has clinical skills and knowledge. A great doctor uses that knowledge to improve the practice of medicine. Duke-NUS students all have signs of becoming great doctors.” One of the hallmarks of the DukeNUS curriculum is its emphasis on research. Instead of the traditional two years on basic science that US medical schools undertake, Duke spends just one year on basic science (Year 1). The additional time is allocated to research in Year 3, something that is becoming increasingly important in medical science, especially in Asia.

Dr Cook adds, “A good doctor has clinical skills and knowledge. A great doctor uses that knowledge to improve the practice of medicine. Duke-NUS students all have signs of becoming great doctors.”

Caring for Future Doctors At Duke-NUS, students are nurtured with the same warm and personalised approach that they experience in their learning. Students here are not just faceless entities. In fact, many of them are known by name even to those in the School’s top management. Senior doctors are appointed as College Masters to look after student needs beyond academics. “Our faculty are engaged with our students in many ways, including coaching, advising, assessing, and encouraging” said Dr Craig Stenberg, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions. Financial concerns are also taken care of, with a team ensuring that needy students receive support. “This is to ensure an environment where everyone is actively engaged in learning, where questioning is encouraged, where learners are from diverse backgrounds, where innovation and entrepreneurship is encouraged, where everyone is supported and challenged.”

“We used to think that we can rely on the research of other countries and just apply them here,” explained Prof Kamei. “But for example in Asia, we’re finding that patients react very differently to medicine than those in US and UK. Another example, why is there such a high level of diabetes in Singapore? What’s special about the disease pattern here? If we don’t do research in Singapore, we will not be able to find these answers and improve the way we practise medicine here.” “It is much easier just to care for patients,” clarifies Prof Kamei, “At Duke-NUS, we want to groom academic physicians who improve the care of patients, which is a much bigger goal.”

S Duke-NU uke-NUS urtesy of Chung, D w Ye g n Photos co Ta y b 6 e g pa Photo on

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DUKIES ON CAMPUS me+SH follows the journey of five students who were in the pioneering Duke-NUS class of 2007

: 1 R YEAthe Spirit

The first year at Duke-NUS is a rigorous immersion in the basic sciences; the building blocks of medicine. History and physical examinations are integrated with the basic science content being studied. In this way, students are fully prepared to begin their clinical rotations in the second year.

How did you feel on your first day as a medical student? Eunizar Omar (EO): I was nervous and wondered if I would be able to cope but also felt very blessed and privileged to have been so warmly welcomed into the Duke-NUS family.


Daniel Yong (DY): Excited that I was embarking on a whole new journey! How were TeamLEAD sessions like to you? EO: TeamLEAD sessions were often intense and sometimes very heated, but usually a healthy exchange between faculty and students. DY: Besides sharing knowledge, we also have to maximise each other’s “skills” and balance team dynamics. It can be both fun and frustrating at times. I was glad that I had a team to help me with learning.

EUNIZAR OMAR If I were a superhero… I would like to be able to manipulate time. I could slow time down if I needed more of it or fast forward through boring or painful moments. I could also rewind time to review and change past mistakes.

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DANIEL YONG If I were a superhero… I would want to be like Wolverine. Soft and furry on the outside, but made of titanium inside.

What first year moment was particularly memorable to you? EO: The donor memorial ceremony. It reminds me to be thankful to patients and their families, who, despite their sufferings have put aside their needs and willingly helped us on our journey to becoming good doctors.

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How has your experience as a medical student helped you grow both personally and professionally over the past four years? EO: Being able to interact with patients gave me a greater appreciation for what I have and has helped improve my communication skills. Professionally, being immersed in clinical research has really opened my eyes to the unique challenges faced by clinician scientists. DY: Although I started medical school as a “mature” student, I feel that I have grown as a person. I’ve learnt to accept that there are certain things that are beyond me in terms of what a doctor can do for a patient, but I should always strive to do the best within my capabilities. How does it feel now that you’re only weeks away from officially becoming one? DY: Just as excited as my first day as a medical student. I will be starting the journey for real! A little calmer and wiser, but the enthusiasm remains the same.

: 2 R A E Y ng Patient

Involvi Care

In the second year, students focus on becoming effective clinicians by going on a series of core clerkship rotations. The clinical rounds have been designed to develop students’ clinical skills in history taking and physical examinations and the ability to appropriately use resources to diagnose patients.

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Why did you decide to become a doctor? My undergraduate degree in bioengineering gave me a glimpse into the world of medicine through courses in anatomy and physiology and working on medical devices and biomaterials. It was towards the end of my course that I realised that I wanted to be involved in patient care in a more direct manner.

SHERA CHATERJI If I were a superhero… I would want my superpower to be ‘super speed’. This will give me the ability to dash from one patient to another during busy night calls and attend to emergencies quickly.

Prof Lim Shih Hui is a Senior Consultant at the National Neuroscience Institute. Having taught the pioneering batch since 2007, Prof Lim is proud to say that he knows almost everyone in class. The Neurology clerkship coordinator is responsible for planning the students’ clerkship curriculum, ensuring that they receive adequate exposure to the field in the short three to four weeks. Under his guidance, aspiring medical professionals are imbued with the pioneering qualities to “always be prepared to take on new challenges, go into uncharted territories and find new ways to do things better.” We talk to one of them, Shera Chaterji.

Can you describe your experience in your medical clerkship? My medical clerkship in the second year was the first time that I was directly in charge of patients and responsible for reporting their progress to the team. My team strongly believed in teaching and would pause to explain the complexities of diagnoses and management plans despite their busy schedules. This is something that I will always be grateful for and will endeavour to recreate a similar learning environment whenever I have the opportunity. Tell us a bit about your work in second year with Prof Lim Shih Hui, your neurology clerkship leader! Prof Lim has been a very inspiring and dedicated teacher who is also a mentor and role model for many of us. He devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to hone our clinical skills despite his numerous other commitments. Prof Lim will also be involved in our Hooding Ceremony at graduation, and it is our humble way of saying ‘thank you’ to a great teacher who has been there for us every step of the way. What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had in your second year? My most fun experience was during my neurology clerkship. My fellow classmates and I developed a great working relationship and camaraderie while we saw patients with a wide variety of conditions.

Prof Lim Shih Hui won the Distinguised Mentor Award at the inaugural SingHealth Excellence Awards. Read about his achievements in page 19.

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Furthermore, I was allowed to attend his clinic so as to better understand the clinical aspect of stem cell transplants.


He taught me how to be a better doctor in terms of medical knowledge and doctor-patient relations.

Focusing onrch ea Clinical Res

What perspective has research given you in your future career as a clinician?


Duke-NUS’ unique third year provides students an unparalleled opportunity to do in-depth research in their area of particular interest for a full year. It allows individuals to gain scholarly experience in research, explore and clarify long-term career goals, and develop a creative, insightful approach to medicine. Dr William Hwang, a Senior Consultant at the Department of Haematology at SGH recalls his experience guiding students Ann Mei and Liming on their third-year research projects. Helping students deal with setbacks and find their own innovative solutions to problems are his goals as a mentor. He believes that these qualities are what make the future pioneers in medicine. One memorable moment he shares was seeing the delight in her eyes when Ann Mei was told her paper was accepted by Bone Marrow Transplantation. “That was worth it!” he exclaims.

If I were a superhero… I would want to have the ability to heal and provide comfort — that’s the reason why I study medicine.

It taught me how to practise evidence-based medicine and better critic scientific journals. I was taught not to believe everything published at face value, but to dive down to the nitty-gritty details and decide for myself if the evidence presented is trustworthy. What’s the most memorable experience with your Duke-NUS classmates? Role-playing different types of patients with my classmates in preparation for our clinical skills exam.

Why did you decide to become a doctor? I became interested in studying clinical medicine in my final year of undergraduate studies when I took up pathology. Once you understand the basis of how disorders arise, you can tailor treatments for the individual. The whole process poses intellectual challenges and the doctor-patient relationship is also extremely satisfying.

Despite all the stress, we bonded and made each clinical encounter fun and filled with laughter. It made me realise the importance of teamwork and friendship.

Can you describe your experience in your research year? It was an excellent educational experience as I was able to learn how to publish a paper and present in an academic setting. My project was to determine the optimal dosage and route of administration of chemotherapy in stem cell transplant that will decrease the side effects in patients while providing the best efficacy.

: 4 R A E Y tudent to

From S Clinician

Dr Hwang is an extremely supportive mentor who led me in the correct direction and taught me critical skills in research.

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In their fourth and final year, students prepare to enter the world of clinical medicine and enhance their preparation for internships and residencies through clinical rotations. By the time of graduation, students’ clinical experiences would have created a context that bridges the gaps between course material and clinical practice.

Why did you decide to become a doctor? Ann Mei: I became interested in studying clinical medicine in my final year of undergraduate studies when I took up pathology. Once you understand the basis of how disorders arise, you can tailor treatments for the individual. The whole process poses intellectual challenges and the doctor-patient relationship is also extremely satisfying.

Dr Tan Thiam Chye, a Consultant in KKH’s O&G Department is the Clerkship Coordinator that helped Tat Xin tailor his six-week sub-internship. Dr Tan believes in building confidence in students as they mature into clinicians. “Humility and a positive learning attitude are most important in medicine,” he adds.

Can you describe your experience in your research year? It was an excellent educational experience as I was able to learn how to publish a paper and present in an academic setting. My project was to determine the optimal dosage and route of administration of chemotherapy in stem cell transplant that will decrease the side effects in patients and while providing the best efficacy.

“As a pioneer class, all eyes are on these students, so it is necessary that they exhibit even more humility in their lives and work.” Outside class, Dr Tan even had the chance to witness a surprise marriage proposal between Tat Xin and his fiancée during a research presentation in Spain. It certainly was “a touching moment”.

Dr Hwang is an extremely supportive mentor who led me in the correct direction and taught Why did you decide to become a doctor?

Tell us a bit about your experience with Dr Tan Thiam Chye!

The loss of my grandparents to cancer made me very curious about this deadly disease when I was a teenager. I went on to obtain a degree in science and spent a year doing research in cancer biology. These experiences further crystalised my interest and belief that being a doctor is the most effective way to help people battle illnesses.

Dr Tan tailored the programme to allow me to have maximum exposure to various departments in KKH and constantly encouraged me to stretch my limits. He is an exceptional mentor and was instrumental in a decision making for Residency application and my subsequent decision to pursue my career in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

How was your fourth year medical clerkship like?

EE TAT XIN If I were a superhero… I would like to be able to help people forget all their worries and be happy with a snap of my fingers.

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The fourth year has been a whirlwind of early mornings, overnight calls, and a first-hand taste of what Residency will be like. I am particularly grateful to all the Consultants who have taken the time and effort to impart precious knowledge and skills amidst the busy ward rounds and clinics. I am equally grateful to my seniors who helped me through the challenging sub-internships.

How does it feel now that you’re only weeks away from officially becoming a doctor? I’m both excited and apprehensive of what lies ahead. Nonetheless, I look forward to finally graduating and taking the first baby steps in Medicine.

Photos by Bryan Tan, Duke-NUS

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PARTNERS IN EDUCATION In collaboration with Duke-NUS, SingHealth provides the clinical teaching environment for its students in our campuses. Its location within our SGH campus fosters collaborative efforts between the institutions. Our clinical staff contribute their practical skills and knowledge in care and research as members of the School’s teaching faculty.

APRIL 2005 Duke University and National University of Singapore formalise the partnership to establish a graduate medical school

JULY 2005 SingHealth welcomes Duke-NUS with the establishment of its interim campus in SGH Campus at 2 Jalan Bukit Merah

AUGUST 2007 The first 26 students begin classes. Their white coat ceremony officially recognises the passage from general membership in the community at large into the select family of practitioners of the art and science of medicine.

SEPTEMBER 2009 Official opening of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School campus. Named after Tan Sri Khoo Teck Phuat, the 11-storey building located at 8 College Road in SGH Campus houses technologically advanced research laboratories and modern teaching & education spaces

OCTOBER 2009 The first faculty appreciation night / Oktoberfest celebration. In this annual celebration, SingHealth staff and Duke-NUS faculty and students bask in the fun, laughter and activities. Students also pay their tribute to teaching faculty.

OCTOBER 2010 SingHealth – Duke-NUS inaugural scientific congress, ‘Bridging Healthcare in the 21st Century’

MAY 2011 Graduation of the pioneer batch of students from Duke-NUS

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t’s an important decision – one that shapes how their lives turn out – and one which they all have to make at the tender age of 16!

leavers, along with her nursing and allied health colleagues who were also on the scene to provide a helping hand.

As the day wore on and the crowds thinned, it was not a sense of fatigue but one of satisfaction that Sharon felt.

“They asked a myriad of questions – some wanted to know what a radiographer does while others were interested in career development prospects and scholarships,” revealed Sharon.

“In the course of my job, I’ve met many who are surprised that radiography is a specialised allied health profession. But there were many at the event who showed that they had a very good idea about what a radiographer does!”

The school leavers were also treated to an interactive forum in which healthcare professionals like Sharon took to the stage with celebrity hosts, fielding questions from the audience about an exciting career in healthcare.

Where do you go after the ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels? With concerned parents in tow, hundreds of school leavers flocked to the HealthCareers event held at *SCAPE to find out more about a career in healthcare. What greeted them was a dazzling, if somewhat confusing, array of information – the event venue was packed with exhibitors from the public healthcare clusters in Singapore, offering career options in all aspects of healthcare! Which one do I go to?! Who can help me? Luckily, SingHealth professionals like Sharon Ong, a SingHealth Health Science Scholar, were on hand to answer the queries of parents and wards alike. Sharon shared her experiences and satisfaction as a Radiographer at KKH with enthusiastic and attentive school

So for all the school leavers and parents who attended the event, making that life-changing decision just became that much easier, more enjoyable, and enriching, thanks to the helpful boost given by our SingHealth professionals. Way to go team!

About HealthCareers

Said Ms Lim Sook Luan, Assistant Director of Strategic Human Resource at SingHealth, “This event is important to SingHealth because it allows us to communicate directly with the youth on what healthcare is all about. “By answering their questions and clarifying their concerns on a career in healthcare, we hope to make them feel that SingHealth is a caring employer and wants to help them develop a career with us.”

Jointly organised by SingHealth and other healthcare clusters in Singapore, HealthCareers aims to increase awareness and interest in a career in healthcare for school leavers. This year, the joint efforts see a myriad of avenues employed to achieve this objective, with magazine and newspaper articles, television and radio commercials, as well as the live event at *SCAPE. Read the full interview with Sharon on the SingHealth Facebook page!

TALENT,TALENT, ALL THAT TALENT! SingHealth nursing and allied health professionals were on hand to help tell spirited youths more about careers in the healthcare sector in this year’s HealthCareers event held at *SCAPE.

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SingHealth Excellence Awards



VISI N IN ACTION PROF DONALD TAN Director, Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC)

CELEBRATING THE BEST AT SINGHEALTH On 25 March this year, the inaugural SingHealth Excellence Awards were presented. These awards, consisting of eight categories, honour leaders and talents who epitomise excellence at the cluster level. These outstanding individuals not only make significant contributions through their performance, they are role models who are committed to realising our vision and mission.

With a vision for better eyecare, Prof Donald Tan has led SNEC and SERI to historic achievements and an impact on a global scale.


By Monica Lim and Debbie Chia

version. This led to the landmark Asia-ARVO, which has become the main sharing and networking platform for eye doctors and researchers in the region.

o most, Prof Donald Tan clinching the Visionary Leader Award comes as no surprise.

Surgeon, educator, researcher and leader. In the field of cornea and refractive surgery, few names inspire as much professional respect in Asia as Prof Tan. For over two decades, the Director of SNEC has made his mark in clinical, surgical, translational research and education achievements, becoming a much admired role model for others. Under Prof Tan’s leadership, Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) has blossomed from a fledgling eye centre to become one of the world’s leading eye institutes. To date, SERI has published more than 1,000 scientific papers, obtained 93 grants valued at $77.9 million, won 100 national and international awards, and registered 18 patents. In 2008, International Ophthalmology highlighted Singapore as the world’s top contributor of eye publications per population, of which 98% were from SERI.

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Transforming vision into action is Prof Tan’s forte. When he became the Medical Director of the Singapore Eye Bank fourteen years ago, there was low awareness of local cornea donation.

He has put SNEC and SERI on the world map with his achievements. Prof Tan introduced osteo-odonto keratoprosthesis (also known as Tooth-in-eye) surgery in South Asia, resulting in the successful restoration of sight to 38 patients from 13 countries, some from as far as the US and Australia.

Dissatisfied with this, he spurred a turnaround which led an impressive increase of local cornea donations from 27% then to 93% currently. These are a clear testament to the forward thinking of the man at the helm. A world with better sight, thanks to such leaders with vision.

Envisioning the rapid development of research knowledge and education in the Asian ophthalmology scene, Prof Tan negotiated with ARVO from USA, the largest eye research meeting, to establish an Asian

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Charity ensured good and open communication with all staff to explain the measures taken and to achieve close teamwork in the overall mobilisation and rostering of additional duties. As a result, appointment waiting time was reduced significantly from 70% to 14.7% at the end of 2010. Several strategic opportunities were engineered by Charity in the international arena to fulfil SNEC’s vision of International Eminence in Ophthalmology. Charity represented SNEC and along with like-minded eye centres in Europe and USA founded the World Association of Eye Hospitals in 2008.

Chief Operating Officer, Singapore National Eye Centre

When SNEC saw a mounting increase in patient load, a lesser person would have caved under the pressure of escalating demands. But not Ms Charity Wai. Described by colleagues as the “architect in developing the administration and management structure for SNEC”, she took the matter in her stride and made decisive changes to the existing system. which focuses on quality service training programmes and develop strategies to improve patient satisfaction. In 2009 SNEC saw a mounting increase in patient load and long waiting time, with 70% of subsidised patients waiting more than 60 days for an appointment. Charity sprang into action .


he developed the clinical audit function into a full department in 1995, which has now been recognised in the field as an excellent and cost effective model to monitor outcomes and to measure clinical quality. The following year saw her setting up the Quality Service Department

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With the medical leadership, she implemented quick measures like ad hoc Saturday clinics, as well as more sustained changes in the management and discharge of patients. Codenamed “three strikes out”, the system ensured timely discharge of patients or onward referrals to appropriate subspecialty clinics for further management, freeing up appointment slots for new patients.

In all these achievements, Charity credited the symbiotic and catalytic relationship she has developed with the medical leadership as a key ingredient for success. She likened the relationship between the medical staff and those in administration as that between the pilot and the airtraffic controller. The doctor is the pilot who has overall command whereas the administrator’s role is very much like that of the air-traffic controller who provides vital flight information, upcoming weather and traffic conditions to support the pilot in the navigation of the plane. Both are professionals who must know their jobs well and must work together. One cannot do without the other but there is no doubt who is in the driver’s seat. Charity also commended her administrative team for the strong trust and support they have given her all these years. She said, “in the end, every change and improvement made in the organisation depends on people wanting to do something differently and better and to dare to do the mission impossible. “

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SingHealth Excellence Awards



LEADING BY EXAMPLE MS LEE HENG PHENG Adviser, Nursing Management, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital

An effective communicator, Ms Lee Heng Pheng harmonises dissenting voices through collaboration, engagement and a decisive leadership style.

of having to contact all the over 500 patients who were at that clinic that day, to inform them that they may have been infected. “Heng Pheng showed no hesitation to proceed with this undertaking,” remembers Prof Ng. “She galvanised the whole senior nursing leadership and we stayed back together all night, making the necessary calls. She sets the pace and the people follow.”


s Lee Heng Pheng, is no stranger to crises, having led her nurses through the trying periods of the SARS outbreak in 2003 and a more recent one, the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. In both instances, there was an atmosphere of fear among staff and quelling the anxiety was one of Ms Lee’s biggest hurdles. Prof Ivy Ng, CEO of KKH, recalled how one of their outpatients was among the first to be diagnosed with SARS. KKH made the decision to close the affected clinic and was then faced with the daunting task

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It is this indomitable spirit that led to her winning the People Leader Award. Ms Lee’s keen people skills can also be seen in the way she rallies and develops her staff. To deal with high staff turnover and shortage of paediatric nurses, she initiated the transfer of more nurses into the Children’s Tower and stepped up sponsorship of nurses for the Advanced Diploma in Nursing (Paediatrics) course. She has also groomed Nurse Clinicians and Resource Nurses, and drives the

development of Advanced Practice Nurses to raise standards of nursing at KKH. Like other successful leaders, Ms Lee has her fair share of challenges among others having to help nurses overcome personal difficulties and motivate underperforming teams. But whatever the situation is she remains approachable and is always ready to help. Those who work with her describe her not only as a supportive leader but also a concerned friend. Ms Lee describes this award as the pinnacle of her achievement in her 40 years on the job. “It will motivate me to improve my leadership skills and give me more confidence in mentoring my team, especially in developing future leaders.”

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to devote more time and energy to students who have difficulty in class.




TEACHING WITH Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute — SGH Campus

A beacon of inspiration for generations of medical students, junior doctors and specialists, the popular Prof Lim Shih Hui was highly sought-after as one of the top educators in clinical neurology at SGH. However, he has always eschewed big group teaching in favour of small, intimate group tutorials. His reason: it simply allows him to spend quality time with his students.

Educator Award winner’s 20-year track record in clinical education. Prof Lim has influenced and inspired legions of medical students in his various capacities — including undergraduates at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, students at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, and postgraduates in SGH and NNI, as well as neurologists from the Asia-Oceania region.


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This passion spurred Duke-NUS students to invite him to mentor them, and further led to a slew of Appreciation Awards from the school in 2009 and 2010. It comes as no surprise that Prof Lim is now working with Duke-NUS to develop new teaching methods with the ambition of making clinical neurology “a fun subject to learn”. Prof Lim’s teaching legacy goes well beyond Singapore’s borders, as he has trained neurologists from around the region as well as organised teaching courses under the Asian Epilepsy Academy (ASEPA) and the ASEAN Neurological Association (ASNA).


uch concern for the excellence of his teaching is a consistent theme throughout the Distinguished

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In fact, the standard for Electroencephalogram (EEG) reporting and interpretation in Asia can be attributed to Prof Lim. He initiated the ASEPA-ASNA EEG Certification Examination in 2005, now codified as the national standard by China’s Ministry of Health. This outcome is especially fitting for Prof Lim, who considers one of his greatest achievements to be the stellar results obtained on an acupuncture diploma in Beijing. That and an MBA acquired from NUS in 2003. Prof Lim is still considering contributing to medical education “in a more structured manner”, particularly if junior doctors feel that they will reap the rewards of his instruction. It is clear to those who have studied under him that this is indeed the case.

His dedication to students is formidable. As a time-strapped clinical physician, Prof Lim still found the time to conduct bedside tutorials. He also took extra care

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SingHealth Excellence Awards



The institutional standing of the Obstetrics and Gynecology community has grown over the decades, with Prof Yeo as an indispensable pillar of support.


TALENT INCUBATOR ADJUNCT PROF YEO SEOW HEONG Senior Consultant, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital

A pioneer and visionary with the power to mould minds. This description of Prof Yeo Seow Heong — winner of this year’s Distinguished Mentor Award — indicates the extent to which he is held in high esteem by the medical community. an academically rigorous, evidencebased approach to the medical management of pregnancies. With support from the National Medical Research Council (NMRC) and through translational research, Prof Yeo’s efforts have given rise to the incubation and development of young doctors involved in medical research.


rof Yeo blazed the way forward in the development of clinical protocols and guidelines as the Head of Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital between 1993-2006. There, he established

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Capable young talents had gravitated to the department over the years, and many developed to hold the helm in O&G, education and research.

Besides being an exceptional role model, Prof Yeo has also always had a deep understanding of the infrastructure required to sustain a nurturing learning environment. He helped to ensure O&G interns in Singapore had free access to a large database of knowledge through subscriptions to online journals. He also developed strong relationships with a network of medical experts across the globe, gaining access to their accumulated experience. All these efforts have served to enhance the knowledgebased culture that he has always fostered. Beyond his present capacity as a teaching faculty at the DukeNUS Graduate School of Medicine and NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Prof Yeo has also committed himself to conducting workshops and bringing worldclass conferences and seminars to Singapore. These efforts represent a broader, international spirit of mentorship that has enabled him to promote a spirit of learning beyond our shores. With an ethos of care and learning, and a nurturing approach to growing and developing talent, Prof Yeo’s success as a mentor will continue to spur the development more talented young people with of new ideas and groundbreaking research in the years to come.

With his establishment of multidisciplinary clinics in KKH over the years, research and collaboration in diverse fields — ranging from neonatology to molecular biology – have flourished.

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SingHealth Excellence Awards




MIND OF MEDICINE ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR TAN ENG KING Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology, National Neuroscience Institute – SGH Campus

Successful research and their outcomes have the power to radically transform lives for the better. This year’s Distinguished Researcher Award winner, has undoubtedly done so for more than 15 years.


In addition to being recognised as a researcher in the local and international healthcare arena, A/ Prof Tan is also an opinion leader and well-known clinician with patient referrals extending all the way from Europe, USA and Asia. Among the string of editorial and professionals positions that he has under his belt, he has acted as an external expert for prestigious universities and centres in USA and Asia, and the only Singaporean to be elected into the American Neurological Association.

/Prof Tan is an well-known clinical neurologist and researcher at NNI.

An outstanding researcher, he has been instrumental in leading research in the field of Parkinson’s disease and Movement Disorders, particularly in the discovery of genetic risk factors unique to Asians and clinical observations that helped in clinical care. His many achievements and contributions include the setting up of the Movement Disorders Service at SGH in 2000. The Service, which benefited patients with gait problems and uncontrolled involuntary movements, then paved the way to a full integrated programme at NNI. In 2006, the centre became the only site in Asia to be accredited by the US-based National Parkinsons Foundation as an “International Center of Excellence” for their contributions in research and patient care.

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To reach out to the community, recently, A/Prof Tan and his colleagues from Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders team at NNI-TTSH Campus, together with the Parkinson’s Disease Society of Singapore have secured MOH’s approval for a more than S$1m to set up a one-stop patient care centre in the community for Parkinson’s disease patients.

The SingHealth Excellence Awards evening ceremony on 25 March also saw the presentation of the GCEO Excellence Award for outstanding professionals at the institution level. To see the list of winners of both awards, visit http://mysinghealth/Singhealth/ ExcellenceAwards/ from your SingHealth Desktop Portal.

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INTERNATIONAL FACES SingHealth as melting pot of the world’s best talents


t is common to see international faces not only among patients but also staff in our institutions.

Making up almost 20% of SingHealth’s professional staff, our colleagues from overseas are working side-by-side with their Singaporean counterparts in numerous professions ranging

Who: Jarlath Lyons What: Physiotherapist Where: Rehabilitation Centre, SGH. How long: less than 1 year From: Ireland He had barely graduated from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland when he landed a job with SGH. While some would think twice about heavy caseloads, for Jarlath the challenge was the factor which enticed him to Singapore. “The patient load in Singapore is heavier than in Irish hospitals. This challenges us to multitask but still maintain high standards.” Jarlath’s colleagues in SGH are supportive of him. The group always openly discusses different approaches to patient care and are on hand to advise one another on ways to confront workrelated issues. Interestingly, to blend in further with the local community, the soft spoken physiotherapist has been attending Malay language classes.


from clinicians, allied health professionals to nurses. They bring with them invaluable experience and offer new methodologies and ideas that help SingHealth become increasingly dynamic. Meet six professionals who’ve made Singapore their new home.

Who: Dr Harsh Sadana What: Associate Consultant Where: Department of Oncologic Imaging, NCCS How long: Over three years From: India

Who: Sun Xia What: Senior Staff Nurse Where: Cardiothoracic Surgery, Intensive Care Unit, NHCS How long: 11 years From: China

A practising consultant radiologist in India, Dr Sadana cited close proximity to his home country, excellent connectivity and a world-class medical and urban infrastructure as reasons why he moved to Singapore.

Sun Xia left her homeland to take up a three-year Nursing Diploma Course in Nanyang Polytechnic under a scholarship by MOH. She then went on to join NHCS in 2000.

He finds the work environment at NCCS conducive, with “well-organised working environment and prompt availability of professional support from colleagues and seniors.” Compared to the profession in India, Dr Sadana feels that the higher volume of quality work available at NCCS offers him greater professional challenges. The shy radiologist does not feel homesick. He quips, “With the conducive work atmosphere, good interpersonal relations and mentorship, I have never felt that my home is away from home!”

Reflecting on her 11-year stay in Singapore, Sun Xia added that her colleagues have played an important role in making her feel at home, “During festivals, they invite me to their homes for gatherings. There are many activities organised in almost every month. “ Singapore’s cultural diversity and the ability for the different races and cultural practices to exist together in harmony still amazes her. “I’ve learnt to accept differences for the good of common interest. My colleagues and I exchange ideas for better mutual understanding and it enhances our working relationship and team spirit.”

Making Singapore more of a home to him, he finds the MRT system in Singapore more reliable that the transportation system in Ireland!

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Who: Dr Pujan Rai What: Registrar Where: Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Unit, NDC How long: Three years From: Nepal Dr Rai was a dental officer in Nepal prior to pursuing her Masters in Dental Surgery at NUS and then joining NDC. “Having studied and worked here, I realise there are good opportunities in Singapore and also a great learning experience.” Dr Rai sees the vast difference between working in Singapore and Nepal in terms of patients’ accessibility to healthcare services and availability of the latest medical equipment and infrastructure. The cross-cultural work experience has helped Dr Rai to ease into work, “I have learned a great deal about better ways of doing things, different ways of treating and caring for patients. “ But it is not all work with her colleagues, “They invite me to their homes and I have invited them to mine. Discussing food is always entertaining.”

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Who: Nicola Duffy What: Speech and Language Therapist Where: Rehabilitation Department, KKH How long: 2 years From: Ireland Although Ireland’s recession at that time was a push factor, Nicola was equally attracted to the promising healthcare industry and the standard of living in Singapore. Sharing on differences between Ireland and Singapore, “Healthcare services are not paid by Irish citizens, hence a longer waiting list. But it also means they are more willing to attend the sessions than Singaporeans.” The various nationalities that make up Nicola’s team often compare different methodologies and explore the possibilities of putting them into practice in the local context. However, some aspects of the local language and culture still confuse Nicola, “Here when someone says ‘can you help me with it,’ it means you do it on their behalf. I used to follow my colleagues around waiting to ‘help’ without realising I have to carry out the task myself!”

Who: Lusiana Hasan What: Assistant Manager Where: International Patient Service, SNEC How long: 12 years From: Indonesia Lusiana was attracted to work in Singapore due to its safe environment. She was a practising optometrist and a lecturer at two optometry schools in Jakarta prior to working for SNEC. Although initially she used to visit her brother’s family gathering in neighbouring Batam, her homesickness has since abated. “My colleagues and I often meet during lunch time to discuss about interesting cases we handle during the day. We suggest solutions to one another.” The camaraderie with her colleagues extends beyond the work place, “Most weekends I walk with them at Botanic Gardens, Hort Park or the MacRitchie Reservoir Park.” “After living and working in Singapore for more than a decade, I really feel at home.”

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Clinician Scientist Award

This year, two out of the five prestigious Clinician Scientist Award given out were won by SingHealth clinicians. Conferred by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), the award is based on scientific merits of research proposals and the awardees’ track records. Monica Lim finds out more about their winning research projects.


much collagen production can lead to scarring. By isolating the gene that produces the protein, scientists can neutralise it or manipulate it to produce less collagen, and hence less scarring in the eye. This is good news indeed for glaucoma sufferers but Dr Wong is not content to stop there. As part of the research, she has also successfully completed studies on a new way of delivering anti-glaucoma drugs, which can also be used to deliver the proposed anti-scarring therapy after surgery. Slow-release and sustained delivery of drugs using nano technology is currently already available for cancer, diabetes and liver disease. Dr Wong wants to apply the same technology to the delivery of eye medication. “One of the main problems of treatment using eyedrops is that it depends on patient compliance,” she explains. “If a patient forgets to administer the drops, the treatment is compromised. If we can deliver the drug via an injection with sustained release, we remove this obstacle and also reduce side effects. I’m excited about the potential improvement in our patient management outcomes.”

DR TINA WONG Consultant, Singapore National Eye Centre Head, Ocular Drug Delivery Research Group, Singapore Eye Research Institute

This novel delivery system will also be applicable to other eye treatments, such as for the cornea and retina. If all goes well, the delivery system will be tested for the first time in a select number of glaucoma patients at the end of the year. “This project is a prime example of how research can work to solve patient’s problems,” the dynamic doctor asserts.


laucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and while surgery can be performed, its long-term success can be as low as 50% over ten years, due largely to the high levels of postoperative scarring. As Consultant Ophthalmologist in SNEC, Dr Tina Wong has seen her fair share of such

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failures. This frustration has spurred her to focus her research on wound healing in the eye. Her efforts have not been in vain. Her research group has uncovered interesting findings, namely that there is a particular protein responsible for controlling the amount of collagen produced. Too

“We identify the problem in the clinic, go to the lab, find the solution, test it and then bring it back to the patient. That’s true translational research.” And how does she feel about winning the award? “Relieved!”

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Clinician Scientist Award

BEATING THE ODDS FOR CARDIAC ARREST A/PROF MARCUS ONG Consultant and Director of Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, Singapore General Hospital

His project, which won him the Clinician Scientist Award 2011, does just that. It looks at the entire public health system involved, namely the public, the ambulance system, and the hospital. Five strategies have been pre-identified as interventions that can potentially improve survival from OHCA: increasing rates of CPR and defibrillation by the public, reducing ambulance response times, enhancing life support training of ambulance crew, and improving post cardiac arrest intensive care. The project has attracted much interest from the region. Ten countries in the Asia-Pacific have come together to share data on OHCA under the Pan-Asian Resuscitation Outcomes Study (PAROS), using an online secure platform. To date, over 9,000 entries of OHCA cases have been collated, making this the first large OHCA study in Asia. The target is to hit 30,000 entries. Through this study, Dr Ong hopes that the most cost-effective strategy with maximum survival benefits can be identified and implemented. “The potential impact of this research is tremendous because it targets not just the individual patient but the healthcare system as a whole,” he clarifies. The dedicated doctor has already published numerous papers on this topic and consults one day a week with the Ministry of Health on pre-hospital emergency care health policies.


t’s a well-known scenario — a man is walking along the street, suddenly he clutches his chest and falls to the ground. Chances are he has suffered a cardiac arrest. What is needed is immediate action to restart the heart, usually via Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation (delivery of a life saving electric shock). If left untreated, the chances of survival decrease by 10% with every passing minute. The figures are grim – in Singapore, survival rate of Out-ofHospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) is a dismal 2%, compared to the US or

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Europe where it can be up to 20%. Approximately 1,500 people die in Singapore each year due to OHCA. A/Prof Marcus Ong, Senior Consultant in the Department of Emergency Medicine at SGH, has witnessed enough deaths by cardiac arrest to be determined to make an improvement to these statistics. “We need to find out what factors can best address the current shortcomings of the public health system in this area,” he affirms, “ultimately so that we can save more lives.”

Winning the award is a great encouragement for Dr Ong and he hopes this will send the signal to other clinical researchers that what they do is important and recognised. It is also his personal wish that more will embark on research in healthcare services. “Research is one of the best ways to advocate better outcomes for patients,” he emphasises. “Seeing your research make an impact is highly rewarding.”

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BEHIND THE TOOTH The National Dental Centre of Singapore gives dental research something to smile about By Debbie Chia

suggests that the health of our gums can have a significant effect on diseases like diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy complications. In short, a beautiful smile is a sure sign of a healthier body. Such research has the potential to translate to improved healthcare provision. For instance, with collaborations between dentists and clinicians to manage dentally compromised patients.

“Without ongoing research and evaluation, patient care will stagnate and not progress.” – DR ALVIN YEO

How dental research can apply to Medicine Example 1

Branemark titanium implant


n the arena of medical and healthcare research, the case for dentistry is often overlooked.

Caring for one’s teeth is hardly the first thing that comes to most minds when thinking about cuttingedge medicine. This is one of the misconceptions that the researchers at the National Dental Centre of Singapore (NDC) are challenging with their work. Contrary to popular belief, scientific research behind dental care is not just cosmetic. Instead, dental research concerns itself with understanding the science underlying dental treatment and finding better ways to care for patients. Medical professionals all agree that quality research establishes medicine as a profession rather than

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a trade. As Dr. Alvin Yeo, one of the key active researchers at NDC and Deputy Chair of the NDC Research Committee points out, without ongoing research and evaluation, “patient care will stagnate and not progress”. Progress is the keyword here as dental research impacts our lives in ways that we often take for granted. An exciting example is the Branemark implant. A research discovery, by accident, that titanium could bond firmly to bone paved the way for the first permanent dental implants. Such innovations have also been known to spur developments in other medical fields. It was found that the Branemark implant could also be used to provide secure anchorage for replacement facial features or even prosthetic limbs. Another piece of recent research

anchor for prosthetic leg

dental implant

Example 2

heart disease


Gum diseases may have impact on other conditions


pregancy complications

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Example 3

Head & neck cancer patient

Poor Healing


Dental extractions and treatment

Change in practice Normal Healing

Head & neck cancer patient

Dental extractions and treatment

As a clinical centre first and foremost, NDC has also focused on managing research activities and resources, and the development of infrastructure needed to support research – including the NDC Research Committee (RC) and Research Resource Unit (RRU). To achieve this, it conducts robust training programmes for young researchers while emphasising the practical relevance of their research. The direction of research is led by the RC, chaired by NDC research director Dr Andrew Tay, as it develops research policy, builds collaboration networks and human capital, and monitors the overall progress of research. The RRU, on the other hand, functions as a coordinator and facilitator of research. In recognition of the importance of building human capital, the Academic Centre for Oral Health Research (ACORN) was inaugurated in 2008 to provide a formal structure for research and education programmes through its dual research administration and education arms. Together, the RC and the ACORN Secretariat function as twin keystone pillars supporting the entire research agenda of the NDC.

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As part of a push to consolidate its expertise and establish thematic projects, NDC has to date nurtured and grown four clinician-researchers who have obtained their PhDs while pursuing their research interests – with three more soon on the way. Besides pioneer PhD recipients Dr Chew Ming Tat and Dr Alvin Yeo, whose research interests include jaw reconstruction and regeneration, the other two PhD researchers are Dr Goh Bee Tin and Dr Shermin Lee. Their interest in mandibular reconstruction, according to Dr Lee, “gave rise to various collaborations among different parts of the world.”

regenerative approach that not only reduces patient morbidity and ‘downtime’ but is also affordable, predictable and effective”. One thing is clear: although research in NDC may still be in its infancy, its practical, purposeful and patientoriented approach to research holds great promise for the future. Not just for the future of dental research in Singapore – but also for those patients whose improved quality of treatment and care will enable them to lead healthier, happier lives.

As part of a push to consolidate its expertise and establish thematic projects, NDC has to date nurtured and grown four clinicianresearchers who have obtained their PhDs while pursuing their research interests – with three more soon on the way.

Collaborating with overseas researchers is one strategy that is paying off for NDC. Dr Goh remarks that it offers a “continuous learning process” for himself and other researchers here. Besides that, it has enabled NDC to surge ahead in the last five years, despite its relatively limited core group of manpower and expertise. And internally, Dr Yeo points out that NDC’s slow and steady approach to research allows them to focus on their core strengths at this early stage. Meanwhile, Dr Yeo’s own work continues to press on with its goal of developing “a viable bone

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Sl me + Spotlight

IN THE FACE OF CHANGE IT in SingHealth He’s been in healthcare IT for 20 years, but Benedict Tan has never been so excited. me+SH finds out why. By Arthur Wong


hen you put things in perspective, SingHealth is very much similiar to Apple’s iPhone. “The beauty is in its simplicity,” professes Benedict Tan, Chief Information Officer at SingHealth. Given our experience, the last thing we would associate healthcare IT with is simplicity, so Benedict goes on to clarify, “All of us at SingHealth work for one common purpose — to improve the lives of our patients and to care for, treat and heal them. “For that one simple purpose we use various applications that we develop with the help of our healthcare professionals to change the way things are done. It’s pretty much like Steve Jobs’ model of having developers make apps for his iPhone.” And like the popular smartphone, Benedict sees healthcare IT in SingHealth becoming more specialised and easier to use — information at a glance with a touch of a button or a swipe of your finger. While IT used to be mainly for administrative purposes, its role is evolving fast. From clinical care and treatment to research and education, IT innovations by Benedict and his team will make it even easier for us to care for patients and improve care.

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“IT is finally entering the area where it supports direct patient care, with more and more innovations coming in the near future. We see a direct inpact to patients’ lives and something good will come out of all this change.” Benedict Tan, CIO, SingHealth No wonder he’s excited. This change will mean four things – paper-less, film-less, script-less and chart-less. Imagine a future, not so far away, where a patient can receive the best care from a seamless, integrated healthcare system built with ease in mind. Everything happens at the touch of a button and healthcare professionals are able to analyse and translate the data received from treatment into research for better methods and cures as well as to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals. It’s simple, really – faster, easier and more accurate. The patient of tomorrow’s healthcare has a lot to look forward to. And it may not even take a long time to happen either. “The speed of healthcare IT has picked up over the last five years, and I can see with enough emphasis and resources it will continue on the accelerating path,” said Benedict. Add this to the teamwork between SingHealth and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), and you’ve got a winning formula. Formed to provide integrated IT services to the healthcare clusters in Singapore on a full cost-recovery model, Benedict thinks IHiS is ready to start performing at an even higher level having overcome the many challenges of starting afresh. Some key projects that are coming our way for 2011 are the upgrade into the Clinical Sunrise Manager level 5.5, automated visitor management systems, new messaging functions to your email platform

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and infrastructure and network bandwidth increases. Looks like healthcare IT has got endless possibilities. So where does it all end? Benedict thinks healthcare IT Nirvana can be achieved through knowledge management and health analytics. “The difference between an experienced doctor and a new one is the wisdom gained from all the years of practice. We need to harness that wisdom and use it in the training of future clinicians to ensure that it does not end with one person. Our clinicians will also need a data analysis system to allow them to treat patients with more accuracy and ease.” What about patients turning to the internet for their diagnosis? Won’t that turn doctors into professionals who recommend medication as prescribed by some health website? Benedict relates a previous conversation with a senior clinician: “He told me that if you use google to check your symptoms, the chance of a correct diagnosis is as high as 80%. This is information technology at work.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Smartphone Application (MobileCare) Singapore’s first smartphone app for rheumatoid arthritis empowers the patient with a daily health diary that can be accessed easily by caregivers and medical staff. Using graphs, quick summaries and detailed histories, patients can now monitor disease progression for rheumatoid arthritis.

SGH Bed Management System Allows real-time tracking of patients through RFID technology, automating the patient flow process from admission to discharge.

But having said that, whether you can arrive at the right treatment is a whole different matter! Clinicians will always play that all important role of being by the side of the patient on their road to recovery.”

KKH Inpatient Pharmacy Automation System (IPAS) The fully automated unit uses robotics and barcoding to improve the pharmacy dispensing process by picking and packing drugs.

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g n o h C n a H Toh

elves s m e h t f e care o ments in life k a t o t e ers hav njoy lighter mo nd taking d i v o r p e ar y, a to e “Healthc rnout. We have iends and famil u fr or risk b nd makan with flect.” e ia like kop to sit back and r , time out

Location: Pandan Reservoir, Singapore Amateur Rowing Association

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vibrant driving a y ll a m ti p oo while als lture.” h cu vide rc ro a p e s to re g trivin nt in ospitals rates, “S velopme He elabo l service in our h t xciting de Toh e y rl la u s a u ic h, Dr ith A partic good clin priority and we m step Using l researc o work w next nslationa dy he is leading. to main n get eople wh e a e e h tr ft T th o . it is ts n g d e n tu n ti s ri m a a a p te ve re li r is ys a e e , s c d c can fe not fence shares tive in continue s own de ctive on li be innova vation nation’ s are a perspe e patient’ ard is to lood cell s o th b n rw n e fo ‘i it h n a w . g r, e th e in e c n s e n o y B ve a . n ti ma fight c a few m research s to stay competi lite and over to e be d d n s u te n o e c a li w m a il o ti b re tr ll e ex will a than a healthca w the rest re can som o w te ld o m e va n n fi le to e n e is h a th follo grown cells c attle. W globally, “Being in an just to s. These back mbling b th ll u d e r to e c h e s s e d n th it fu n o a h ra p in w re lead a tough your wea ease, cer and a g his rld.” ed up all is fight can ent’s body, lettin of the wo you’ve us e march of the d tient ti a nce l p a fe e ic e th d d th a e e p k to n m c e in lved in with th hold ba d immu vo re lk e a in , e t, w n re s in e a ti to g e c n is g re-en . Having b ian-scie the focus while still providin an o the work as a clinic ence in H d, system d research first-hand experi to the en ope, ” said Dr Toh ltant study in ical as h su e largest cell Dr Toh h th bench and clin th relief and d and Senior Con y tl n e bo ea l “It is curr f its kind and the steering nd his efforts in Chong, H rtment of Medica r o dside is h, a e r cancer a c p rc fo n e a y a the world from bench to be early e D p C s e l ra re a e th n o th of ti ll a e N c n o ti e g ys in at th hile s ll producti establish couraging. He pa from Oncology apore (NCCS). tensive. W atment in ly n e s e e m n u g e e in extr lleag is tre has be Centre S eir NCCS co ow up, th st a ute to his s inspiration for th l in the foll s achieved the be d ib in tr e b to a d a w e ce h tu g n ra c y d e le g va ll e vi d te h a ri te ir a p str at the and in whom gainst “We are to date a ncer. We feel , passion lp people e s n o h lt ti u a to s ic n re d a de positio eed”. ryngeal c r. dous hard reatest n nasopha firepowe s tremen a 0 time of g 2 d t e s fi S ti la U e the in th .” very gra abroad in en put in long way pore has a rk has be e come a pent time training at g o s ’v w in e g S n “W vi in a H e climate earch fellowship pital, years. Th conducive for res ding receiving etts General Hos r o n re yl fu o a s B u le m been multip Massach dical School and are now A key r. s re e a e fo M h th te h rd d e o a n p T a Harv to com s icine, Dr d ie sy e it u n b M u . f e o rt oppo pective lance th College lobal pers se worlde is to ba al work within a g g n is e h ll a d h e c nic gain at the entric cli system ng stints es patient-c e health Compari c ns, he se e at o n a ti tu rm ti o s rf in b e d to -p e l h n a w ig ti o h ren oten ’s huge p Singapore dge. -e g the cuttin


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With his role as College Master at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Dr Toh is also pushing the Academic Medicine envelope in other ways. He ensures that the spirit of inquiry in Medicine stays strong and believes the vibrant environment of the school cultivates it. “Coming from diverse backgrounds, these students remind me of my own time overseas at United World College (UWC) in Canada. The ferment of boundless creativity, talent, and energy have created a breathtaking and enriching medical school ecosystem.” “But I look after the touchy feely stuff,” he disclaims with a chuckle. “If they have problems such as coping with the course work, it is our job to be proactive. We also engage in dialogues ranging from healthcare economics, ethics, research, career choices and conflict resolution. It feels more like being a nurturing big brother!” As someone so immersed in the many facets of Medicine, it is hard to imagine Dr Toh being anything else. Surprisingly, Dr Toh had hoped to be either a film director, architect or writer as a child. “Now I edit the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) newsletter instead,” he jokes. ”I chill out by reading submitted articles, and occasionally writing editorials”. His other pastimes include recreational rowing at Pandan Reservoir, road biking – a midlife crisis decision, he offers – relaxing with family and watching DVDs. Of the last, Dr Toh jumps to share his enthusiasm and recommends films such as The Godfather Part II, The Shawshank Redemption, Terms of Endearment, Okuribito (Departures), and Chungking Express as some of his favourites.

providers have to take care of themselves or risk burnout. We have to enjoy lighter moments in life like kopi and makan with friends and family, and taking time out, to sit back and reflect.”

soft toys as punishment. I will have a long wooden table outdoors with Italian food and sweet offerings, but will also ask Mr Ramly to cook up sizzlingly delicious Ramly Burgers.

It is this balanced approach that has kept Dr Toh at the forefront of his profession. That, and a real belief in making a difference.

2. What’s your favourite thing to do when you need a break from work? What break? ;-)



1. If you could have dinner with a famous historical figure, who would it be? I would prefer a casual dinner party! I would invite the great human freedom fighters Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Sun Yat Sen. Actress Audrey Hepburn, film directors Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar Wai, architects Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas, writer James Joyce, economists Adam Smith and Amartya Sen, thinkers Malcolm Gladwell, Albert Camus and Simone Weil, scientist Sir Peter Medawar, physician Sir William Osler, the very funny Tina Fey and Tiger Mom Amy Chua, so I can figure out why she would want to hothouse her kids and burn their

3. Can you describe the condition of your desk? Too much paperwork! I have a tonne of papers to sign here and might end up with “signusitis”. I also have a tin of love letters biscuit homemade by a very charming nonya cancer survivor patient. 4. If someone could write a book about you, what would the title be? ‘OOPS’! This is because I never really planned my life the way it turned out. I never really thought of Oncology as a specialty while I was a junior doctor. I like to be pleasantly surprised and have been many times. I usually hold on to faith and hope that things will turn the corner and turn out fine in the journey of life. 5. What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate, durian and ice-cream. You can get solid durian ice-cream at Udders next to United Square and at the Daily Scoop at Sunset Way.

Dr Toh Han Chong leads the research for cure for nasopharyngeal cancer using the patient’s own defence system.

“I like all kinds of films, including the hilarious comedy The Hangover, Korean war movie 71: Into the Fire and the American football film Friday Night Lights.” Of the importance of downtime, Dr Toh reflects, “Healthcare

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Our doctors, nurses and allied health professionals are those who play important roles of defining tomorrow’s Medicine. Managing work with life’s demands can be a challenge both on and off duty for them. me+SH finds out how three of our professionals manage to maintain their work-life balance.

W G YEO logy, SGH N O Y o un ONG & Imm DR. CHDept of Rheumatology

try to ily, so I ng fam with them, u o y a me g ant, I have Consult spare ti n durin ? ay like end my ying badminto p d s k r o w pla ormal linic sessions such as end. your n c k e e What is r to five busy ge of w the ese u ar g a Chin er I have fo am also in ch e ward d joinin th h I te a T r . r . k ta n it e s o e d o aw nd ultati I’ve als lass and foun ersed t 8am a nt cons so imm ily inpatie sually starts a es include ting c e b in a n p a u uti porar tic. I c rounds 1am. Other d al students erapeu that I can tem joining the th ic 1 d t e By ting ends a hing m rred from day stress. in pain g, teac fe e day’s e at least one the th t plannin g patients re atient work e g r v s fo a a h e in tp to e m u e get on ti nts. O and s linic class, I to end work partme me outside c e d r k e e ti oth as in a we rts at 6pm! l over to ks such ta can spil istrative tas s. class s nd in s m althy a and ad n seem endle ying he a t a s c r s il s fo e ’s ema Any tip sane? squeez titution g our ins help time to our busy y in d f p o n e fi e e s k u yo st y make u end self How do al time amid You can portal and att . Get enough on s r e p y g es s la in p learnin ement cour do too le? roles to and v o ’t try to es. r n p schedu s have other o s D im e . s r e u o m o is ti c p u r e s f som d exe Most o also parents, nce rest an gs, say “NO” is in charge fe bala li e r k a r e in o e –w e, w h in many th ow that no on yourself. n. Henc eep our healt t at cept y, kn childre k u x tl o e s to ta s t n s L n r e bu rta e happin is impo we don’t get end tim of your so le to sp b a ll check, ti s nd are work a family. r u with o

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Senior Optometrist, Optometry Services, SNEC

immunity. Good time management is crucial.

What is your normal work day like? Typically, I start work at 8am and take a quick 30-minute break around noon. I do not have a fixed clinic time as I move around different clinics in SNEC. Occasionally, I’m stationed outside of SNEC, too. A typical day ends around 6pm.

I will arrange to complete the necessary admin work at the beginning of the week, for example, staying back late on Monday or Tuesday to meet my deadlines by Wednesday so I can spare the rest of the week for sports and leisure activities.

How do you find time to squeeze in work-life balance amidst your work schedule? Work-life balance is important as it helps me reduce accumulated stress, and improve my performance and

I also try to participate in activities that are near my work place so that I can save on travelling time.

Any out-of-the-ordinary habits you do to squeeze in more time for exercise? As I stay near SNEC, I walk to and from work everyday, rain or shine. I also make it a habit to walk if the distance to my destination is only a few bus stops or MRT stations away. Any tips for staying healthy and keeping sane? Stay calm when encountering any difficulties and don’t sweat the small stuff!


What is your normal work day like? As I work shifts, there is no fixed schedule for me. It is important for me to have sufficient rest to keep up for a day’s work.

How do you manage work-life balance amidst your irregular working hours? There must be something for me to do to take my mind off work and to keep my body healthy. I develop my own routine. After my morning shift, I usually go for a bike ride or run or spend the evening with my friends or family.

When I am on night shift, coffee is my best friend. Supper is also helpful in keeping me awake!

Before an afternoon shift, I would go for a morning run. I’ve learnt to

adapt my activities around my work. I also prefer to do such activities at night, where the traffic is less hectic and the weather is cooler. Any tips for staying healthy and keeping sane? It is all about working hard and playing hard at the same time! If you have the time, go to the gym or have a walk in the park to relax your mind after a long day’s work.

Staff activitie s

Looking for a little work-life balance? Here SingHealth In stitutions! are some activ ities at various Institutio n



Pilates Worko ut $6.50 x 12 sess ions Walk-a-Jog Stair Climbing

Note: activities are


open to staff fro m

all SingHealth

Taichi Class p hon 2011

Talk on Exerc


Pilates Taiji Quan

All activities are




Sundown Marat

Noor Hudaya h Mohamed Ar iff noor.hudayah .mohd.ariff@nh 6436 7662

28 May May May On-going

for the respec tive institution ’s staff only unl ess stated oth erwise.

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Contact Perso n Sandy Lim La i Fong sandy.lim@sin 6377 8589

Tuesdays and Thursdays


Walking Grou


Start Date Tuesdays (till June 2011 )

Woo Kwai Fong woo.kwai.fong 6324 8886 or Sandra Lim sandra.lim.f.l 6324 8881

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Hr me + Horizon

A NEW, EFFICIENT PEDAGOGY METHOD: BLENDED LEARNING Busy work schedules, high patient loads, short attention spans, decreasing retention rates. Many factors can affect learning and teaching in healthcare — an industry where continuing education and professional development are vital for the provision of quality patient care.

such educational activities creates a conducive environment for healthcare professionals to learn even outside of class time, and through dynamic online content that will help reinforce the curriculum.

In enhancing healthcare education, Blended Learning is a pedagogical practice that increases learning efficiencies and improves training. Blended Learning is a concept of the integration of traditional classroom-based teaching methods with modern learning technologies.

SingHealth Academy has launched a Call for Interest for faculty and staff to submit their interests in the development of Blended Learning content. Participants will receive full assistance by the Academy in the development of their Blended Learning content. For more information, please visit Programmes/Blended-Learning

A classic example would be the combination of didactic face-to-face lectures with e-learning technologies. A blend of

Donors play a significant role in ensuring that Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School students receive the precious gift of education. Support our aspiring physician-scientists in the following ways: 1) COMMUNITY OUTREACH



Education should be holistic, thus all students are encouraged to participate in at least one local and one regional community outreach project. “Your gift will support such projects, which in turn help develop servant leadership skills in our students”.

In line with our curriculum, our students must understand and conduct research to practice medicine. Your gift will provide them with financial assistance to attend and present at medical symposiums, crucial to their learning and development.

No deserving student should be denied an education because of financial difficulties. Your gift will help alleviate the financial burden of needy students through bursaries. Please contact Duke-NUS’ Development Office at for more details. You can also donate on our website

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me+SH issue 01 FY11  

It's the pioneering spirit this issue with Duke-NUS's graduating batch, winners of the SingHealth Excellence Awards and the new Academic Med...

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