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Healthcare Administrators: Behind-the-Scenes Superheroes

When we think of superheroes in healthcare, the first image that comes to mind is probably of doctors and nurses. However, these front-line healthcare professionals are able to focus on performing their great feats because they know they can rely on the support of hardworking administrative staff, many of whom do their most important work in offices far from the public eye. Ms Jillian Ang Andrada, an Institutional Coordinator (IC) from the SingHealth Graduate Medical Education (GME) Office is one such administrator.

In March 2018, Jillian won the inaugural Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education - International (ACGME-I) Award (Staff Category), a testament to her dedication and commitment to SingHealth Residency. Jillian stepped through the doors of SingHealth in 2009, and today manages a team of about 40 Programme Executives (PEs) and staff at the GME Office. Driven by her passion to make a difference, Jillian plays an important role in the management and development of Residents, and in the day-to-day functions of SingHealth Residency.


1. Congratulations on winning the inaugural ACGME-I Award (Staff Category)! What does this award mean to you?

This award is an affirmation of two things. First, that administrators can contribute to the improvement of medical education, and second, that I made the right decision 9 years ago when I chose a different career path—from that of a doctor to becoming a full-fledged administrator.

I came to Singapore in 2008. Later, I had the option of returning to the Philippines to pursue Residency, or to explore other job opportunities in Singapore. I decided to stay in Singapore to be near my family.


2. Tell us about your role in SingHealth Residency. What do you and your team in GME do?

I am the IC of the GME Office at SingHealth. My primary role is to support GME leaders to ensure successful accreditation of SingHealth as a Sponsoring Institution (SI) and the SingHealth Residency Programmes in accordance to the ACGME-I framework and Joint Commission Specialist Training (JCST) accreditation standards. My role involves developing and implementing strategies and policies to ensure the continued success of SingHealth Residency programmes.

Together with the Assistant Institutional Coordinators (AICs), we oversee and manage Residency funding, policies and procedures; review the performance of Residency programmes to ensure they meet accreditation requirements; as well as manage Residents’ welfare and engagement.


3. When was one of your proudest moments at work?

I think there are quite a lot, but most of the time I feel fulfilled whenever plans or projects that I have spearheaded with my team are approved and implemented. For example, GME developed and launched the Resident Procedural Competency (RPC) database for Residency. It tracks all our Residents who are certified to perform procedures, and makes this information accessible to our healthcare professionals, so that patient safety is assured.

Just recently, I attended the Graduation Ceremony for the SMU-SingHealth Graduate Diploma in Healthcare Management and Leadership, and Prof Ivy Ng, GCEO, SingHealth, during her opening address candidly say, “If there is no friction and you are not moving, moss will grow on you”. So I guess even if it was not a smooth journey given the multiple roadblocks, it was a necessary change and the challenges experienced during the whole process are all worth it.

4. How do you sustain your passion and drive in what you do?

I believe passion can only be sustained if the work entailed is aligned to our values and priorities.

When I started as a PE, I could not believe I spent 10 years in pre-med and medical school, just to put labels on Resident files. Tough as it was, I have to do the work since my priority at that point was to support my family. However, to sustain my passion, the work should be according to my core value, which is to make a difference in what I do and hopefully to contribute to the organisation as a whole.


5. How would you describe the work culture in SingHealth Residency?

I am fortunate to have been one of the pioneer administrators in SingHealth Residency and have reporting officers who provided me with room to grow and did not micromanage.

This has allowed me with opportunities to come up with new ideas and see how to do things differently. Such independence is not given easily, but once you gain the trust of the clinicians, they actually will give you a free hand to try out things.

I am also blessed with having a fun team with whom we work hard but also play hard. We spend so much time in the office compared to our homes; having a great team makes difficult work bearable and enjoyable.