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Navigating the Leadership Journey

Besides developing skills and knowledge as clinicians, SingHealth Residency also offers our Residents opportunities to develop their leadership skills through the SingHealth Residency Leadership Programme (SRLP) and Singapore Chief Residency Programme (SCRP). We hear from Dr Trishpal Kaur Dhaliwal (Geriatric Medicine) and Dr Kennedy Ng (Medical Oncology) as they share how life as a Chief Resident has been like and how it has benefitted them on their Residency journey.


  1.  Tell us about your role as a Chief Resident.

    Dr Trishpal:

    Besides the daily task of doing rounds, seeing referrals and running clinics, my role as a Geriatric Medicine Chief Resident has provided me with the opportunity to work alongside my Programme Director (PD) to revise our curriculum within our programme. Through gathering of feedback from the ground, my fellow Residents and I started regular discussions on the practice of Geriatric Medicine, which turned out to be beneficial for our peers and juniors.

    Dr Kennedy:

    As a Chief Resident of Internal Medicine*, I worked with my fellow Chief Residents to gather feedback from Residents and Faculty on ways to improve the programme. In short, I would summarise my key roles as a Chief Resident to be:

    • A coordinator who ensures adequate support and resources are provided to Residents to run clinical operations and various initiatives efficiently and smoothly.
    • An advocator who provides a platform to allow Residents, Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) and medical officers’ (MO) voices to be heard through gathering of feedback, which will be shared with the Faculty and management.  
    • A mentor who provides opportunities for junior Residents to grow and develop to their full potential by creating a nurturing culture within SingHealth Residency.
    ​*Dr Kennedy is now a Medical Oncology Senior Resident after successfully completing his Internal Medicine Residency training.

  1. What were the challenges that you have faced on this journey?

    Dr Trishpal:

    Managing and juggling my time between different responsibilities within and outside of Medicine was a constant challenge. Unlike some of my fellow Chief Residents, I was an international medical graduate (IMG) from Monash University, Australia and returned to Singapore to begin my PGY1 journey. Having trained under a different Residency system, the initial transition was definitely difficult. Thankfully, I was able to overcome this with the help of my peers and seniors as well as engaging in activities outside of work that helped to strike the much-needed balance.

    Dr Kennedy:

    Besides the common struggle of juggling clinical duties and training obligations, another challenge I faced as a Chief Resident would be stakeholders’ engagement. I realised the importance of active listening and empathy – skills that are essential to understand other’s perspectives.

    Despite the challenges, the journey was also fulfilling and meaningful, which was made possible by the passion and dedication of my fellow Chief Residents - Dr Rayan Alsuwaigh, Dr Marcus Sim and Dr Jolene Liu, fellow Residents, PD - Dr Tham Chee Kian, Faculty members and Programme Executives - Colin Foo and Rachel Ho.

  1. How would you describe your experience as a Chief Resident, and what did you enjoy most about the leadership programmes?

    Dr Trishpal:

    Enriching, empowering and an eye-opening experience. I really enjoyed meeting and engaging in active discussions with like-minded peers and various stakeholders from different specialties to learn about their leadership styles and hear from their perspectives.

    Dr Kennedy:

    I found it insightful, inspiring and fun. My time in SCRP was probably one of the most enjoyable and fruitful parts of my Residency journey in SingHealth. Not only did I meet like-minded peers who are committed to making a difference in healthcare, I was also fortunate enough to cross paths with our healthcare leaders, to hear and learn from their perspectives about the current healthcare policies and issues, and meet stakeholders who are involved in strategising the future of healthcare. The programme also exposed me to various ‘non-clinical’ skills, such as leadership, education principles, healthcare financing and policies that have shaped me into a more holistic clinician.

  1. How has being a Chief Resident enriched your medical career?

    Dr Trishpal:

    Some may think that a Chief Resident is basically a ‘saikang’ warrior but this is far from the truth. In reality, being a part of the SRLP programme has given me various opportunities to learn and improve on a personal and professional level. Being a Chief Resident has allowed me to reflect and discover my leadership, communication and conflict management styles. These are skills that are not only useful in my medical career but also in every aspect of my life. It has also challenged me to play an active role and find ways to improve the lives of my peers and juniors within the programme.

    Dr Kennedy: Many often think that a Chief Resident manages only the administrative requirements of the Residency programme and not able to improve the working conditions of their peers. Contrary to this belief, being a Chief Resident has presented me with opportunities to create meaningful changes alongside my peers and Faculty to improve the working conditions of junior Residents as well as the quality of patient care. In addition, the friendshops forged in the 'trenches' are priceless and made the journey worthwhile.

  1. What role do you hope to play in the future of healthcare?

    Dr Trishpal:

    To be involved in medical education with a focus on Geriatric Medicine. I believe there is a lot of value in teaching and learning from medical students who are the pillars of future healthcare.

    Dr Kennedy:

    To be able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of my patients and their family members through shaping of the healthcare system and changing it for the better. As clinicians, we can impact the lives of others by treating them, but if we were to ‘treat’ the system, we would potentially be able to change the lives of millions. I am also keen to be involved in mentoring and teaching the next generation of healthcare professionals. Having had the privilege of mentors investing and believing in me, I hope to do the same and pay it forward.