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Paying It Forward: A Passion for Teaching

​Beyond developing their skills and knowledge as clinicians, the SingHealth Residency journey offers our Residents much opportunities to explore their diverse interests in Medicine and carve out unique pathways for themselves in healthcare. For Dr Tan Jing Yuan (Internal Medicine), who clinched the SingHealth Duke-NUS Medicine Academic Clinical Programme (ACP) Education Award 2020 in the Junior Educator category, teaching the next generation is a passion that he enjoys deeply.

We spoke with Dr Tan to find out what ignited his passion in teaching and kept him going.


  1. How did you start your journey in healthcare education?

During my first year of Residency, I was involved in “Project Inspire” where I had the opportunity to guide final year medical students on how to handle their communication stations effectively in preparation for their final Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree as well as life as a Postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1). These communication stations included testing of medical students’ ability to handle a difficult situation in an empathetic and effective manner. I was also involved in leading a group of medical students through a series of bedside tutorials, which involved history-taking and physical examinations of patients.

Through these projects, I realised that teaching and mentoring others was something that I enjoyed doing and felt deeply passionate about. I hope to continue to inspire my juniors to pay it forward in the future – just like how my mentors have inspired and motivated me to walk the same path.

  1. Share a significant memory from your time in teaching. Why was it significant to you in your journey as an educator?

In June 2020, I was in charge of teaching a group of Year 5 medical students and overseeing their studies through their final year examinations. Over this period, I forged a close bond with the students and provided them with emotional support, especially in the run-up to their final examinations. This whole experience reminded me that an educator’s reach goes beyond just teaching. As educators, we don’t just impart knowledge – we are also uniquely placed to care for our learners’ welfare and growth as people and doctors.

  1. What challenges did you face in teaching as a Resident?

The main challenge is definitely time. There are days when the wards can get really busy and a planned tutorial has to be either postponed or cancelled. However, I am thankful for my supportive colleagues, who are always willing to help those of us involved in teaching for the day.

The COVID-19 pandemic also brought about its own set of challenges, especially with the cross-cluster restrictions, which prevented me from meeting the medical students posted to other healthcare clusters. However, these restrictions actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I was able to set aside time to guide each student more personally due to the reduction in group size.

  1. What keeps you going on this teaching journey?

It is the thought that I have successfully made a positive impact in someone else’s life. Although the teaching journey may be an arduous one, the achievements of those I have taught serve as a positive reinforcement to spur me.

  1. What is one piece of advice that has shaped you as an educator?

Someone once told me, “Anyone can teach, but what’s most important is the heart.” There are many teachers around us, but finding a teacher who truly cares is rare. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to cross paths with many selfless and dedicated mentors over the years; many of whom have gone beyond the call of duty, readily sacrificing their personal time to nurture and guide us whenever they could. Their dedication has inspired me to do the same.

  1. Any advice for your peers or juniors who are keen to get involved in education?

Just do it! In fact, being involved in teaching allows me to strengthen my foundation in Medicine as I am constantly kept abreast with the latest medical updates. Through teaching, I have come to realise gaps in my own knowledge that I might not have known otherwise. This motivates me to do better, so as to deliver the best kind of education to the people around me.

*This article is contributed by the SingHealth Residents’ Committee (RC) and copyedited by SingHealth Education Comms.