#BehindTheScope Interview with Dr Aneez Ahmed

In our #BehindTheScope series, Beyond Medical Group gets up close and personal with our doctors to reveal to you their personal thoughts and aspirations.

Next up is an expert in thoracic surgery, Dr Aneez Ahmed from the International Centre for Thoracic Surgery. Learn about his passion to integrate AI and robotics in medicine to raise the quality of healthcare; and find out what yoga, badminton and all things medieval mean to him!


1. Why did you decide to become a doctor?

I grew up in a family with four generations of engineers and just wanted to do something different. I’ve also always been interested in technology, so I became fascinated with combining technology and medicine.

 

2. Why did you choose your speciality?

Cardiothoracic is unique in the sense that it is very unforgiving to the doctor as the margin for error is very small. It’s very similar to the speciality of the airline industry, where everything is well-drilled and must be done in a certain manner of precision. A successful outcome means a very rewarding journey to the patients.

 

3. What do you look forward to every day before heading out to your clinic?

My morning yoga session. I need my 40 minutes of peace every morning when I also strategise my whole day – surgery, patient visits, etc.

 

4. What is one common misconception the general public has about your speciality? What’s the one thing you wish the public would realise about it?

Patients can be overconfident about what we can do.

We need people to do their part to maintain a healthy lifestyle and go for regular screenings so that problems can be identified and addressed at an early stage.

 

5. Why did you decide to set up a private medical centre as compared to other healthcare settings?

I’ve worked in a restructured hospital setting for more than 20 years. I’ve been a student, a teacher and a mentor; and I felt that I have achieved my possible goals.

By stepping out to private, I wish that I can pursue my other dreams – working with robotic companies and AI companies to help these technologies penetrate into healthcare and ultimately provide a higher quality of healthcare.

Dr Aneez Ahmed during his TTSH days

6. What is the most memorable moment in your career?

It was when I successfully completed the first robotic surgery on my own.

The patient was a young girl with a tumour in her chest. Because she’s young, we did not want to do big cuts that would cause huge scars. With robotics, we’re able to do it via keyhole surgery (small cuts), and she managed to go home two days later.

 

7. What piece of healthcare advice would you give to Singaporeans?

Keep up with your vaccinations, exercise at least twice a week and get good screening advice. In addition, get good insurance coverage – know what you’re buying and read between the lines.

 

8. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Travel! I’m quite a medieval travel buff. I also enjoy playing badminton once a week.

Dr Aneez Ahmed is the Medical Director and Senior Consultant Thoracic Surgeon of the International Centre for Thoracic Surgery.

Currently practising in Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Dr Aneez is passionate about Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) & Robotic Surgery. He is the only robotic thoracic surgeon in Singapore and performed the world’s first 3D Printed Polymer Ribcage Reconstruction.

#BehindTheScope with General Surgeon Dr Aaron Poh

In our brand new #BehindTheScope series, BMG gets up close and personal with our doctors to reveal to you their personal thoughts and aspirations.

First up is Dr Aaron Poh, Medical Director and General Surgeon of Alpine Surgical Practice, who has fifteen years of experience under his belt. True to his calling of helping people, particularly in their time of greatest need, Dr Poh established his own clinic earlier this year.

Find out about his source of motivation, career highlights and more here.

1. Why did you decide to become a doctor?

It was during the last year of junior college that I made my decision to be a doctor. The idea was first hatched in secondary school but options continued to open up in the intervening years.

There were a few factors that affected my decision. First and foremost, I really wanted to help people, particularly in their time of greatest need. This is why cancer surgery and research have always been my greatest areas of interest. Secondly, I really like talking to people and learning more about the different facets of life. What better way than being a doctor to do that! Thirdly, I wanted a job where every day is potentially different instead of just sitting in front of a computer – being a doctor fits this requirement.

2. Why did you choose General Surgery?

I was initially interested in Internal Medicine and carried this mindset when I took up my General Surgical house officer posting. I realised during the posting that surgery wasn’t too bad after all, as most conditions can be cured or achieve closure through surgery. Needless to say, the surgical experience gained during my posting was exhilarating. Lastly, I enjoyed the teamwork and team spirit that is ubiquitous in any surgical team.

 


3. What do you look forward to every day before heading out to your clinic?

I look forward to seeing the patients. For patients coming back for review, there is always the anticipation of knowing the results of your treatment or surgery. For first-visit patients, the excitement comes from knowing a new person, diagnosing the medical problem and offering a solution. With private practice, additional excitement comes from building my own clinic and moulding it towards my vision.

4. What is one common misconception the general public has about General Surgery? What’s the one thing you wish the public would realise about it?

Many people are put off by the term ‘General Surgery’. I guess they somehow associate that with an ‘unspecialised’ surgeon. However, General Surgery is actually one of the main pillars of the surgical discipline and our initial training involves exposure to all disciplines before we decide on a sub-speciality. Due to our exposure, we can perform procedures from endoscopies and skin lump removal to abscess draining and gallbladder removal. These are in addition to our sub-speciality work. My mentor used to tell me that General Surgeons used to be called ‘Pus and Shit surgeons’ (pardon the language) in the older days as we can do everything. It may not sound glamorous but it’s something I take a lot of pride in!

5. Why did you decide to set up a private medical centre as compared to other healthcare settings?

After spending 15 years in the government sector, I realised that I like to ‘build’ things. I wanted to set up something that I can call my own and mould it into exactly what I envisioned.

6. What is the most memorable moment in your career?

There are two memorable moments or rather periods that I treasure. The first is the six years that I worked with and was trained by my mentors, namely Dr Tan Teng Kok, Dr Anton Cheng and Dr Chiu Ming Terk. The second is my one-year fellowship in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in the UK where I worked with Dr Simon Radley, Dr Tariq Ismail, Dr Dion Morton, Dr Nigel Suggett and Dr Kaori Futaba.

I want to make a special mention of my peers from my fellowship year who have remained in contact with me. They are Dr Trifonas Papettas, Dr Mit Dattani, Dr Rashid Al-Alawi, Dr Aamed Al-Araimi and Dr Deepak Vijayan.

7. What piece of healthcare advice would you give to Singaporeans?

Good health is essential to a good life. Always find a doctor whom you can develop a good rapport with.

8. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

My family is always my first priority when it comes to proportioning my free time. Next are my friends whom I try to keep in touch and have a drink with every month; in particular with my cycling buddies – we try to meet up at least once every two weeks. Cross-country cycling, including overseas trips, is something I look forward to, though this has been cut down by a lot since getting a wrist fracture seven months ago. Reading is my favourite pastime – I am truly in my own world when I read. Last but not least, I also have a passion for film photography

 

Dr Aaron Poh is the Medical Director and Consultant General Surgeon of Alpine Surgical Practice, sub-specialising in Colorectal and Trauma Surgery.

Currently practising in Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Aaron Poh performs a range of general surgical & abdominal procedures. The surgical procedures that he performs are largely laparoscopic (minimally invasive keyhole) surgery.