Dr Hamid Rahmatullah Bin Abd Razak is an inspiration to many young doctors; some might say he has managed to strike the perfect balance between clinical and community work. However, the Valedictorian of the fourth cohort of SingHealth Residency Graduates and winner of the Singapore Youth Award has had his fair share of challenges during his Residency days . In the following story, he shares some tips for incoming Residents.
1. Congratulations on winning the Singapore Youth Award! How has your time as a Resident inspired your involvement in the community?
Having met many patients during my Residency years, I have learnt that every one of them is unique and their health issues have social undertones. This makes us feel like we are not just physicians running a specialist outpatient clinic but a social one too! Due to the constraints of time and resources, we are unable to grapple with the social issues of our patients. This prompted me to venture into community service to meet their needs.
2. Performing clinical work and training as a Resident is enough to keep you constantly busy. Did you ever feel like you needed to give up your pursuit of clinical excellence when you decided to engage in community work?
I never felt like my training was compromised even when I took on community work. My Residency Programme Director and Faculty were supportive of the work that I did, and constantly encouraged me to seek excellence in both my clinical work, as well as in my community-based efforts. My supervisors also ensured that I had enough rest to avoid burning out while fulfilling my passion to serve in Medicine.
Dr Hamid (first from the right) with Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu, members of the HealthServe team and two volunteers at HealthServe’s premises.
3. Your achievements are remarkable, but we understand that these did not come without challenges. What was the lowest moment for you in your Residency years?
At the end of our six-year Orthopaedic training, we have to sit for the Joint Fellowship Examination in Orthopaedic Surgery. This is a grueling examination and we usually spend a whole year preparing for this “all-or-nothing” assessment.
Juggling my training, research, community work and most importantly, my family during this period of time was the most challenging thing that I have had to do in my entire life. Battling nights with little sleep, fatigue, daunting datelines, and the moral obligation to see through some of my community projects, sapped my energy. At times, I wondered if I were cut out for all these involvements.
4. How did you overcome this struggle and stay motivated amidst other difficulties?
Apart from divine help, my family and patients have been and continue to be a constant source of motivation. Additionally, my peers, my Residency family—my Programme Director, Faculty, Programme Coordinators and Programme Executives provided encouragement in the final stretch before the examinations.
Other ways I stayed motivated was to engage in activities that provided stress-relief like running and football, embracing spirituality and practising mindfulness.
When I face a challenge, I also check if what I am going through is aligned to my values and if I am on course to achieving my mission and vision. If the answers are yes, I will find strength to complete the task.
Dr Hamid with his wife and two children at the Singapore Youth Award 2018 Ceremony, where he was presented with the nation’s highest accolade for young people who have excelled in their chosen fields of pursuit while demonstrating a strong passion to make a difference in the community.
5. If you could do anything differently during your time as a Resident, what would it be and why?
I learnt about reflective writing during the Singapore Chief Residency Programme (SCRP) but wish I had known of it earlier so that I could have done it more during my earlier years in Residency. Reflective writing helps me to intentionally reflect about the events, interactions, thoughts, and emotions that I have experienced.
Many consider it to be a chore and something that busy clinicians might not have time for. However, I find reflective writing to be a very powerful tool in self-exploration and it helps me to refine areas of improvement. Since I adopted this practice, I have been doing it after some of my challenging surgeries.
6. What tips would you give to incoming Residents on choosing a suitable Residency programme for themselves?
Medical students and young doctors are now facing the pressure of committing to a specialty early. My tips to incoming Residents would be to:
(i) Get to know the people in the department to which you are going to apply, as you will spend at least a decade with them
(ii) Try to ascertain early if you have the flair and the passion for the specialty that you intend to apply for
(iii) Do at least one Medical Officer posting in the department of your intended choice, as perspectives change when one evolves from being a medical student to a junior doctor
7. Do you have any life hacks for your juniors that will help them thrive in Residency?
I would like to emphasise two things:
• Resilience is a value that all Residents need in order to successfully navigate through their medical career. Resilience can be innate and developed—like a muscle. • Never forget that medicine is still very much a high-touch profession. With advancements in technology in our outpatient clinics and inpatient settings, we have fully converted to being paper-free. It is easy to be glued to the computer screen and forget that the most important person in that consultation room is the patient—a human being. A gentle touch to offer comfort and eye contact can often be the most important elements in the care that we discharge. These can be the most effective medicine to make the patient feel better.
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