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A Valedictorian's Journey: From Resident to AC

2020 has been a tumultuous year for everyone, including SingHealth Residency’s AY2019/2020 Valedictorian – Dr Raymond Reinaldo Tanugroho (Paediatrics). The Valedictorian journey has not been easy for Dr Raymond as he shares with us the struggles he had to overcome to graduate and what inspires him in his journey in Medicine.

*Note: All photos featured in this article were taken pre-COVID.


Congratulations on being named Valedictorian of SingHealth Residency AY2019/2020! It has been a busy year, and certainly not an easy journey to graduate during COVID-19. As you recap your journey in Residency, what has been your biggest challenge?

In my six years of Residency training, I struggled greatly with imposter syndrome. Often times, I experienced a great deal of self-doubt about my abilities. This feeling was further amplified in the face of new challenges arising from COVID-19, such as worrying about the risk of transmission while supporting the day-to-day operations at the hospital and preparing for my exit examinations.

  1. How did you overcome your self-doubt?

Thankfully, I managed to overcome the issue by sharing about my struggles with my colleagues. Through sharing, I learnt that it is neither embarrassing nor shameful to talk about your struggles and I realised that almost everyone has had similar experiences at some point in their medical career too.

  1. In your Residency journey, was there a moment or someone whom has inspired you as a doctor?

I vividly recall the passing of a five-year-old patient with a complicated medical background. After her passing, her family members gathered around her to sing songs and pray for her. What her mother did next left a deep impression on me as she thanked her for teaching them how to love. I thought to myself, "If we could just show a fraction of a mother's love and dedication in caring for our patients, it would definitely make a huge positive impact on the outcome of our patients' care."

It is always inspiring to see the perseverance and unconditional love that parents have for their children – especially towards children with special needs or are suffering from chronic medical conditions. More often than not, we, as healthcare providers may find caring for our patients emotionally and physically draining, even if it is for just a couple of hours. Yet, these caregivers never waver in their care and concern despite having to care for them on a daily basis. Their selflessness inspires me to hone my skills and work towards being a better doctor, so that I am able to leave a positive impact on my patients and their caregivers too.

  1. Now that you have been an Associate Consultant (AC) for five months, what do you miss about life in Residency?

I definitely miss the interactions with my fellow peers the most. Although I have greater freedom and control as an Associate Consultant now, but at times, it can be quite lonely running the wards and clinics on my own. In comparison to my Residency days, there was usually more than one Senior Resident per team to help spread out the workload, which allowed for more breathing space and bonding time with my peers.

Dr Raymond (last row, 4th from right) having a blast with his Paediatrics Residency colleagues at the Annual Paediatrics Retreat 2019.

  1. What were the top three challenges you faced in your transition to the role of an AC?     

Honing my decision-making, leadership and people skills.

Gone are the days of being told what to do for my deliverables and examinations. As an Associate Consultant, I am fully responsible for setting my own goals and charting my own journey now. As a senior, I also have to keep a look out for my juniors, and ensure that none of them gets left behind. As a Faculty, I have to oversee many non-clinical tasks too, such as organising teaching sessions and being part of various committees in the hospital. There are many hats that I wear as an AC, and it can get overwhelming at times. I am thankful for my experience in Singapore Chief Residency Programme (SCRP) in 2018, which has helped me to gain confidence to deal with such situations.

  1. Any advice or tips for your juniors as they prepare for their transition to ACs in the future?

    • Be proactive in saying 'yes' to opportunities, even though they may not directly contribute to the requirements of Residency, such as participating in research, quality improvement (QI) projects or Residency committees etc. These activities are important in training your research and leadership skills, which are essential as you transit into AC life.

    • Be kind to yourself and to others as maintaining your emotional and physical well-being is equally important, especially in this long-drawn fight against COVID-19.

    • Have courage in everything that you do and never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to achieve more.

      Dr Raymond (pictured centre, far back) taking a break and enjoying a meal together with his Paediatrics Residency colleagues in the MO room.

      1. Lastly, share with us how you de-stress from work?

      I enjoy watching live musicals and plays – something that I miss dearly and have not been able to do as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions. My favourite musical is Rent because it teaches us how to love regardless of the circumstances, and I look forward to watching it live when the situation gets better!