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 Yew Woon SiHead, Anaesthesiology Department, SNECSenior Consultant, Department of Anaesthesiology, SGH
What excites you about your job?I have been married to my job for over 20 years — it’s a stable relationship. The word ‘excite’ only applies to those early dating days; now, it’s more like a feeling of fulfilment. So, what makes me feel fulfilled at work? My scope involves cross-coverage between SNEC and SGH, in the Anaesthesiology Department and intensive care unit. I am blessed to be in a position where I get to meet patients and their families during their most vulnerable times, with uncertainties over their health and future. It gives me an opportunity to reach out, show empathy and compassion, and share their pain. I’ve seen how a comforting word or touch goes a long way. When I was a junior Medical Officer, my team managed a patient badly burnt in the Bali bombings who sustained his injuries while trying to save another lady. We tried our best to save him, but he succumbed to his injuries. What warmed my heart was how we got to know his family well, how we supported them through the ordeal, how they hugged us and thanked us for what we had done, and how we cried together with them over their loss.
We as doctors are placed in our positions for a reason, and one of a doctor’s foremost responsibilities is never forgetting to be a human. We must feel for our patients as a friend or family member, and not treat them as just someone with a symptom to be healed or a tumour to be excised. Now that I’m a HOD, I believe I am again in this role for a reason, and am even more aware of the opportunities and responsibility of making a difference.
What are some of your biggest achievements till date?My sons’ school motto is, ‘The best is yet to be’. I don’t believe I’ve achieved something at this level. Hopefully, if you ask me the same question in a year or two, I’d be able to answer that. I am working towards providing the disadvantaged in society employment within our operating theatres (OT). If we can open up OT — by nature a sterile, exclusive environment — to the disadvantaged, it will set a precedence for them to be allowed to work in many other clinical areas in SNEC or other healthcare institutions. If I succeed in this area, it truly will be the biggest achievement in my life!
What are some of the challenges that we need to work on to facilitate more women to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?I think a good work-life balance is key to job fulfilment. Many women wear multiple hats — we are workers, mothers, wives, daughters, domestic helpers, tuition teachers, mental health counsellors, and chauffeurs all rolled into one. So I think flexible work hours or allowing part-time work would encourage more women to enter a challenging field. I was privileged to convert to a part-time contract when I was a consultant. I was then struggling under the weight of being a first-time mother to twin boys, one of whom was unwell, and on the verge of collapse. Part-time work gave me the opportunity to fulfil my job contract without feeling guilty that I was not spending enough time with my children. This is a win-win situation for both employer and employees: grateful for more time to spend with family, employees become more loyal and dedicated to their job, which benefits employers.
What message would you like to give to young girls and women who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM?Follow your heart — if you’re in a job you enjoy, you’ll naturally be able to do it well. Also, a job is never just a job; aim to go beyond that and make a difference — no matter how small — where you can, and that will bring way more job satisfaction.
here to check out the
Women of Vision series.
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