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Life After Residency: What's Next?

It's been four months since our 2019 Valedictorian, Dr Tess Lin Teo graduated from Residency and embarked on the next phase of her medical career as an Associate Consultant. 

In this issue of INSIGHT, we speak to her on how life has been after graduation and how Residency has helped her in the next phase of her journey in medicine.

Dr Tess Teo 

1. How would you sum up life as an Associate Consultant (AC) thus far?  

Dr Teo:

  • Refreshing – It never fails to amaze me how much more I have to learn even as I advance! Becoming an AC has shown me many things I didn't realise as a Registrar. It's like starting all over again, but from a different perspective.

  • Stressful – With new experiences come new challenges and responsibilities, so definitely, I feel some stress. But meeting new challenges is what makes things exciting, and knowing that I have the support of my friends and seniors makes it easier to keep going.

  • Happy – After 5 years of Residency, I have finally closed that chapter! No longer needing to rotate hospitals or postings, being able to sit down at my desk (I finally have my own!) – these are things that I treasure. I have found my forever home :)

Dr Teo (in orange) with her new colleagues and Residency friends
at a post-call supper


2. What are some differences between life as a Resident and as an AC?

Dr Teo: For one, there's definitely more responsibility. Some nights, I'm the most senior doctor in the department, and that can be quite daunting. But I always try to see this as a positive challenge, and it's definitely helped me grow in this new chapter of my journey.

On the plus side, I definitely enjoy having more off days! I also have more mental bandwidth to explore personal passions and develop my non-existent talent in art and music.


3. How has being a SingHealth Resident helped you in your current vocation?

Dr Teo: I think my Residency training gave me a strong foundation of knowledge and skills, as well as a wonderful set of friends to look to for support and advice.

Much of what I do now, I have actually done before (or at least been exposed to) as a Senior Resident. Of course, that is not to say I have nothing more to learn – quite the opposite in fact! But without Residency, starting as an AC would have felt rather like being a lonely little life boat cut away from the main ship, drifting rudderless in the big blue sea. Instead, now it feels more like I have got a lovely well-stocked vessel to power me through the waters as I explore new horizons – a vessel with a solid hull and room to grow.

Dr Teo (second row, second from right) with Emergency Medicine Residents,
Programme faculty and executives
at the SingHealth Residency Graduation Ceremony in 2019


4. What has been a challenge you faced in transitioning to life as an AC and how did you overcome it? 

Dr Teo: Over the last few months, I realised how important my weekly Residency teachings were, as it presented me with the latest medical information. Now, I have to consciously direct my own learning – by keeping a look out for updates and making time to catch up.

This has also been useful in my new teaching responsibilities, where I guide medical students on the ground. Medical students often don't learn of the latest medical updates from their textbooks, so they'll sometimes get confused why care on the ground differs from what they were taught. Although it takes time and discipline to keep up with the latest in the field, it's good to know that my own learning can also be of use to my juniors!


5. What advice would you give future Residents who are about to become ACs themselves?

Dr Teo: Make your interests known but keep an open mind and be willing to try out new opportunities, because they make for great experiences.

As the newest addition to your department, take time to think of what you can bring to the table. Help out where you can, although be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Now that the pressure of exams is over, help your juniors who are next in line!

And finally, Exits are over! Loosen up, smile more and have fun!


6. What do you miss most about life in Residency?  

Dr Teo: Protected teaching time and free food!! ;___;