We often hear the proverb – “Curiosity killed the cat”, but in the case of
Dr Hong Wei Jie Nicholas (Paediatrics Resident), it was curiosity that led him to research. We spoke with Dr Hong to find out how his research journey has been like and how it all began.
It has been quite a tiring but enjoyable journey thus far! There is no denying that striking a balance between Residency training, research and family commitments is tough, but I am ever so grateful to have crossed paths with so many amazing research mentors, crazy but dependable fellow Paediatric Residents and my ever supportive family for being there for me. With my research mentors’ guidance and support, I have gone on to further my research endeavours in fields such as prognostic markers in paediatric traumatic brain injury, paediatric obesity and anorexia nervosa.
Many of us face the same struggle in balancing our work and family commitment, and I have to admit that I am still learning to strike a balance in this area. Regardless of one’s profession, there will always be an opportunity cost that we would have to forgo, and there is no perfect solution to this. But having said that, I personally feel it’s important to learn to prioritise my time well and to give thanks for the little things in life. Having a positive attitude goes a long way in tackling whatever obstacles that may come my way on this messy yet beautiful journey, which makes difficult times so much easier.
Honestly, there wasn't any 'Eureka!' moment for me. Rather, it was the fact that I had been blessed to be a part of such a nurturing environment in SingHealth that encourages this research endeavour of mine. I guess it also helped that I was able to work on research topics that I am truly passionate about, which made this research journey so much more enjoyable.
From time to time, I would also remind myself on how and why I embarked on my first-ever research project in medical school with my friends, which was to find the answer on the prevalence of erectile dysfunction among Singaporean males because we found the topic intriguing. The research process was undoubtedly challenging, especially since we were starting the project from scratch; and not to mention, it involved many awkward encounters when surveying male participants on their sexual history! Even though my friends and I did not specialise in Urology or in a specialty that’s remotely closed to erectile dysfunction, this project has still taught us many valuable lessons and has in a way, paved the way for us to embark on this research journey.
Even though the thought of being able to publish my research findings in a high-impact journal is something that I look forward to, it is ultimately not my end goal for research. To me, the aim of doing research is simply to find the much-needed answer to an unanswered question that would help to make a difference in the world – no matter how minute it is.
In our line of work, it is inevitable that there needs to be some tangible returns in the time and effort put into every research. But call it optimism as you may, I believe throwing a little idealism into the mix of Residency or research might help us gain things we would never have expected. J So, instead of focusing on quantifiable achievements, I hope to be able to continue learning on this journey, and finding the answers to every unanswered question to satisfy my curiosity.
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