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A New Age of Balance

Dr Sheri Ee Lin Lim

Time is scarce, especially for Dr Sheri Ee-Lin Lim, Year 5 Obstetrics & Gynaecology Senior Resident, who strives to balance her time between being a mother of three, and fulfilling her duties as a Senior Resident in SingHealth. Sheri devotes most of her energy to providing the best care for her patients, but after a hectic work day, it often leaves her little time to stop, catch a breath and consider the possibilities outside of her clinical work. Being part of the inaugural SingHealth Residency Leadership Programme (SRLP) has broadened her horizons and equipped her with better self-leadership skills, enabling her to break out of her comfort zones and better manage daily challenges.

1. Share with us your thoughts on the SRLP.

The SRLP was a lot of fun. It is a well-organized course, and I connected with many open and dynamic people across the medical profession who were willing to share their life and work experiences – something we don't normally do due to our busy work schedules.

This leadership programme made me think of my future as a medical professional 5 to 10 years from now. Through this course, I am more cognitive of the importance of leadership that occurs at all levels, from Residents to senior management. I am grateful that SingHealth Residency has given me the opportunity to be part of this programme, which was created to empower Residents as leaders.

2. Which aspect of the program did you enjoy most?

I enjoyed the 'openness' of each session. Everyone was encouraged to fully embrace the "just try it" mentality and to get out of our comfort zones. It was a refreshing and rewarding experience for all my colleagues and I as we developed new skills without any fear of failure or judgment, and very satisfying to see how we all gained confidence and camaraderie.

3. What is your biggest takeaway from the program? How has the program benefited you?

My biggest takeaway is that good leadership needs to occur at multiple levels in order for the organisation to grow, and that people within the organisation are in the best position to kick-start changes around them. In my case, I should continuously seek to make things better for my patients. The motivation for this must come from a desire to serve patients above ourselves. Leadership in this context simply comes from leading by example in my day-to-day practice, and being available to effect this change notwithstanding working pressures. The programme has opened my eyes to ways we can seek to master ourselves, understand others and gain skills to help bring about change guided by the values of what it means to be a doctor.

4. Given the intensity of work load and responsibilities, how did you manage your clinical load and family commitments while fulfilling the requirements of the SRLP?

When the SRLP started, I was pregnant and in my third trimester with my third child. I remember boarding the bus for the second session's team building event at FOCUS Adventure Sembawang. I wondered what have I gotten myself into when I saw the high wire apparatus and outdoor stations! Through the session, I got better acquainted with other participants and was glad that I did not shy away from an uncomfortable environment.

Being a Resident, having a family and fulfilling the SRLP requirements were not always easy, but I have been blessed with a supportive family and great friends at work. I firmly believe that one has to have priorities. These priorities will change according to life situation, and when surrounded by a great team at home and at work, everything is possible.

I believe and hope that the core values that are instilled in my children will be influenced by how they see me living my life. Hence, I am grateful and blessed that through my work, I am able to help them really understand hard work, sacrifice, service, and fulfilment. On Mother's Day, my son and daughter gave me a card citing reasons why they loved me as a mother. One of the reasons was because I was the most hardworking person they knew! Relationships at work are also important, as getting to know people in a personal context makes work more meaningful. Surrounding yourself with like-minded, inspiring, positive people makes a work day go better! This program has required an investment of my time, but I think that it was well worth it.

5. In your opinion, what makes a good leader and mentor?

There are many different leadership styles. I am surrounded by many colleagues with the attributes of a good leader – intelligence, trustworthiness, loyalty, discipline, courage and the willingness to put others before self. However, I see a good leader as someone who is able to influence others around them and guide them towards a common goal.

A good leader/mentor is accessible, a good listener, and genuinely interested and committed to a mentee's progression in work and life.

6. Share with us a memorable moment which led to your passion in healthcare.

I remember how vulnerable and emotionally worn out I felt when one of my family members was critically ill in the hospital. It serves as a constant reminder to me how the touch of a doctor or a kind word can go the extra mile in healing. When I applied to medical school, it was with the thought that medicine was a combination of the art and science of healing. Till today, that thought still rings true. Even as our medical knowledge increases, healthcare technology advances, and our skills become more efficient, we must never lose our compassion and the art of healing.