Interview with Dr Barry Tan

Dr Barry Tan

1) Why did you choose this profession and what do you love most about your job?

It was an unplanned route actually. After my A level examinations, I applied for a few courses from local and overseas universities. At the same time I applied for several scholarships as well.

One fine day in June I received news that I have been awarded a scholarship and I could go to one of the universities in London for further studies. At the same time, NUS sent their acceptance letter for me to study medicine. It was a tough decision initially but I chose to stay in Singapore to study as I didn’t want to stay away from my family, and that was how it started!

I’m working in the department of accident and emergency in one of the hospitals in Singapore currently as a medical officer. The thing I love best about my job is to be able to solve patient’s acute medical issues! It’s rewarding to see patients feeling better after their visit to the hospital!

2) What is one memorable experience you have had with helping a patient?

I guess it has to be that one fine day in October 2009 when I was still a house officer (houseman). I had this elderly lady who fell and landed in hospital. Being the houseman in-charge of the ward which she was in, my daily task was to retrieve blood samples from her for testing. Slowly we got acquainted and she got used to me coming every morning with the blood-taking tray in my hands. On the last day before she got discharged, she actually got something for me which gave me a surprise.  (Grace says: More about the surprise in another post)

3) What is your mission in Life?

To excel and be the best in what I do! It hasn’t changed since my junior college days!

4) How do you create a work-life balance for yourself?

I started early, during my days as a university undergraduate. I still remember being involved heavily as a toastmaster, taking up various leadership roles from 2006 onwards. It was tough initially, to struggle both studies and the various committments as a leader in toastmasters and that involved late nights and early mornings! Sleeping time was always compromised but I survived those days!

Now as a full-time working professional, much more time has to be devoted to work, and of course whatever time I have will be left for family members, girlfriend, and my committments in toastmasters and grassroots work! I have got only 24 hours a day, working hours are a must, and so the only time I can cut down will be sleeping time! But of course, it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew, and hence now as I am having a full-time job, I have to cut down on the time I take to sleep and be involved in my committments outside of work, and I’m still learning to create the perfect balance!


5) Would you agree that women face more challenges in this profession? Is Life as a doctor really easier for male doctors?

I guess it all boils down to time management! =)

Grace says: I got to know Barry through Toastmasters and noticed he was quite a perfectionist. The kind of person you’d like your doctor to be, I’m sure. What most people immediately noticed about him was the bowtie he always wore. (I’m not sure if he still wears one! Haha!) I’m still in awe of how he can juggle work, dating, family, AND Toastmasters. That’s one skill I need to learn! 😀