SUB-SPECIALITY FOCUS - Part 3: The BATTLE WITH REALITY: FROM MENTEE TO FUTURE MENTOR
Finally, everything is coming together, and all the years of pain and struggle seem like a distant memory; the exciting yet daunting prospect of being initiated into the world of sub-specialty awaits. But is the reality of practise as we have imagined? In this final part, we will get some advice and viewpoints from junior sub-specialists who will share their experiences in managing the leap in expectations and the challenges they have to face.
What is the biggest unexpected challenge you encountered after being posted to your new place and how did you manage it?
Ch’ng Tun Wang, MD: The biggest challenge I faced is the inability to fully apply the latest technology and innovations available. During our training, we had the opportunity to learn and be exposed to the latest treatment modalities in the field. Most of the new, fascinating and innovative ophthalmic technologies originate from developed countries and are often deemed not cost effective in the local setting which can be frustrating at times when treating patients.
Ling Kiet Phang, MBBS: The most significant obstacle for me is having to make important decisions for patients with an expected poor outcome. This is not easy. The patient pool in my center is larger than I thought and I have to ensure the quickest and best treatment options for my patients. With long waiting times for surgery, I have to decide when and whether to operate on poor outcome patients. With time and experience, I have learnt to identify my post-operative outcomes and it helps me to decide on the timing of surgery for the good and the poor outcome patients. Sometimes, I ask my mentors for advice on complex retinal cases. Learning never stops even after you are a sub-specialist.
Siti Norzalehawati Sapian, MD: For me, the most demanding and unexpected challenge was to find out that the place I was posted to wasn’t expecting my presence. There was lack of proper instruments, working space and lack of supporting staff members which are all vital to run the Paediatric Ophthalmology services. To add to my struggles, I had to deal with making crucial decisions in complex cases on my own. Nevertheless, nothing is impossible. With time, proper paperwork, and collaboration with a supporting team, I was fortunate to secure instruments and personnel that is crucial to the service. As what Ling mentioned earlier, learning never stops. I always have open discussions with my mentors when managing difficult cases.