Why did you choose to become a physician?
“I felt I wanted to contribute in relieving suffering and working with people, so doctoring seemed like a good choice. When I was young, my idea of a doctor was that of a family physician in a clinic looking after people, so it seems I haven’t fulfilled my original intent!”
When did you decide to take up research?
“It all started when I applied to work in NUH, where there is a special conjunction of clinical work, academic teaching and research. When I was a resident, my professors would discuss their work with us and offer opportunities to participate in research projects. Seeing their passion for their work, I tried it and found it fun. After I completed specialty training, there was an opportunity to apply for a position as a university lecturer, which combined clinical work with teaching and research. I found this suited me and I didn’t have to choose between clinical work and research.”
What do you like best and what is the hardest part about your job now?
“I enjoy working with people. In the clinic and hospital, we do our best to look after each patient under our care and to help them get better. In the medical school, I enjoy interacting with the students and to help all of them fulfil their fullest potential. As the Dean, I see my responsibility as helping our faculty to succeed in their roles and collective aspirations as a leading medical school. However, time management is the most difficult aspect. There is always more to do so prioritising time sensitive tasks is critical.”
What is one thing you know now that you wished you’d known when you were a student?
“The confidence that things will be okay, they have a way of working themselves out. Not everything can be planned, and some good things will happen by serendipity. For example, if I had set out to plan my training/ career in advance, I would have chosen based on things I knew, whereas keeping an open mind, I tried a posting in gastroenterology and ended up first as a trainee and ultimately a specialist.”
Is there anyone whom you look up to?
“My dad, who is a very thoughtful person and always concerned for others. At the University, there are many very remarkable people and one of my mentors was the late Professor Chan Heng Leong, who was widely respected as a gentleman and clinician scholar.”
Fun fact: In secondary school/ JC, Prof Yeoh was in cross-country running and he represented the school in chess. He was also the school magazine editor and President of the Science Society!