In the Year of Celebrating SG Women, we present stories which showcase and celebrate women’s multi-faceted contributions and progress at SNEC and SERI.
Join us to honour and acknowledge our team of amazing women who have made impact in the field of Ophthalmology, inspiring those around them with their brand of ethos in life.
Dr Anita ChanHead & Senior Consultant, Ocular Inflammation & Immunology Department, SNECClinical Director, Ophthalmic Pathology Department, SNEC
In your dual roles as HOD and Clinician Researcher, which do you prefer and why?Technically, I have quadruple roles. I have an administrative role (HOD of Ocular Inflammation & Immunology, SNEC; Head of the Translational Ophthalmic Pathology Platform, SERI), a clinician role (Seeing uveitis patients at SNEC; reading eye pathology slides at SGH), and I have a research lab at SERI that has been National Medical Research Council-funded by Technical Assistance (TA), Clinician Scientist Award (CSA) and Individual Research Grant (IRG) grants. Finally, the often overlooked role: I am mother to four kids of varying ages, from P1 to teenager. Which role do I prefer? The values that I learn from being a mum are translated into my work as a leader and role model for my staff and researchers. Thus, I probably enjoy the admin role best, as I like to ‘mother’ my staff — and I don’t mean smother! I feel that it’s important as a HOD to guide and facilitate growth of our staff, just as you would for your own kids. It’s important to know when to say ‘no’ and when to give encouragement without being overprotective or controlling. Being a mother helps me in this role the best, as I like looking out for my staff, and hope that I can help them fulfil their potential at work.
Has female intuition ever played a role in your work as a clinician?Sometimes, it’s easier for a woman to understand the caregiver role better than a man. As a clinician, although your focus is on the patient, sometimes you have to look out for the caregiver as well, especially when dealing with chronic diseases. I had a patient who couldn’t come for consultations when the caregiver was caught up with other issues. We were concerned when this patient kept defaulting, so we reached out to the family. They finally expressed their difficulty, and we were able to arrange timings that were amenable to both parties, which resulted in the improvement of the patient’s outcome.
What is your hope for the current projects you’re working on in terms of women’s role in science and heading organisations?I hope to see more women working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). I think there are many programmes now that encourage young girls in that regard, and there are work measures in SNEC and SingHealth to help women like myself who want to work hard in our career and yet be able to have a good family life. I hope as a HOD that I can help perpetuate this supportive culture by mentoring junior female colleagues who are starting their career and family, and who may face difficulties juggling the two.
How would you encourage more girls to pursue a career in ophthalmology?
Post-COVID-19, it would be good to organise a ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work’ Day for all staff so that young ladies get to see what their parents are doing.
here to check out the
Women of Vision series.
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