Dr. Anne Chua (‘15) is excited! This year she will complete her medical foundation program in the UK. For those not familiar, it means she is completing her second year of being a doctor. As if the demands of medical school, and being a new doctor finding her feet during a global pandemic was not keeping her busy enough, she registered on the ISKL Alumni portal as a mentor. When asked why she decided to become a mentor, she replied, “To guide and help others who wish to join the medical field in the UK. I wish I could have been able to talk to ISKL alumni in the medical field in the UK” Despite this lack of clarity, her independence and organizational skills gave her the confidence she needed to get started, and subsequently, keep going.
Typically medicine is a calling, but for Dr. Chua, her path was a bit different. “I had no exposure to medicine and did not study any medical topics in high school, but felt that I enjoyed the sciences more than humanities and thus came to the idea of medicine. Dentistry was one that I never considered which in hindsight is definitely worth considering!” she said. In the end, she “ended up applying for medical school in the UK and then subsequently followed the trajectory of continuing to work in the UK as a junior doctor.” On choosing a career path, Dr. Chua says “Ultimately go with your gut and do not regret the choice you made. I had applied for economics in the US and medicine in the UK, and had no clue which I would actually enjoy doing in the long-term, but ultimately went with medicine.” She “sometimes imagines what it'd be like to do economics and live in the US, but choosing medicine is not something [she] regrets.” Besides, she reminds us “it is never too late to decide to change careers. I have recently been thinking that if medicine in the long-run is not something I want to do, there are numerous other options available if I put my mind to it.”
Anyone who has been lucky enough to have a good mentor knows that goal setting is an important component of any good mentor-mentee relationship, so we asked Dr. Chua about a goal she is currently working towards. Similar to any young doctor, she is trying to figure out what medical specialty she would like to specialize in the future. Initially, she “thought surgery, however after rotating through other jobs, now cardiology seems to be an option!” Either way, she is definitely still keeping her options open.
We also asked about some challenges she has faced in her current role, and how she overcame them? Her response was not surprising. “Working and living alone abroad without family was challenging especially during the COVID pandemic. However, I have been fortunate that my work consists of lots of human interaction and working with a team everyday which keeps me going.” There is no doubt many people can relate to these feelings of separation from loved ones felt during these last couple of years. Motivation can be a challenge under the best of circumstances, and burn out in the medical field is common. With everything doctors and frontline workers are facing these days, we wanted to know how Dr. Chua stays motivated. She replied “By enjoying what I do everyday and going into work and feeling grateful that I have a job during this pandemic and social interaction at work. Also feeling like I'm learning new things everyday on the job keeps me motivated.”
It's not all hospitals and patients for Dr. Chua. When she’s not on a long seven-day rotation at the hospital she is “Trying to make the most of the situation with COVID-19, and traveling while [she] can! Also [she is] looking forward to moving back home to Singapore for a year after [she finishes her] foundation program to try working as a doctor back home, and spending some time with family.” And, just for fun we asked about her best ISKL memory. Of course she replied “IASAS trips and my friends!”
Do you have questions about pursuing a medical degree in the UK? Are you thinking of transitioning from working in medicine in the UK, to Singapore? Reach out to Dr. Chua on the ISKL Alumni Portal. If you are interested in supporting the ISKL Alumni community as a mentor, please update your profile and register as a mentor on the careers and internships page in the Alumni Portal. Don’t forget to add a picture!