Gastroenterologists are medical doctors who are specialised in conditions that affect the digestive system. This includes the gastrointestinal tract (oesophagus, stomach and intestines) and the biliary tract (liver, bile ducts, pancreas and gallbladder). In this #BehindTheScope interview, we get insights from Dr Benjamin Yip, who tells us more about his profession and passion.
1. Why did you decide to become a doctor?
My parents are both doctors, and they have both inspired me in their own ways.
Also, for males doing Medicine in Singapore, it was something different - being able to experience NS and pursue our studies - which seemed like a good proposition then!
2. Why did you choose your specialty?
I have been interested in digestive medicine since Medical School, so for me, my mind was already set on becoming either a Digestive Surgeon or Gastroenterologist. I did a posting in General Surgery as a Medical Officer and, in experiencing both, I realised I preferred Gastroenterology!
3. What do you look forward to everyday before heading out to your clinic?
I look forward to solving each and every digestive problem for my patients. I especially love it if I am able to solve their problems with endoscopy, which is one of my greatest passions within the realm of Gastroenterology.
4. What is one common misconception the general public has about your specialty? What’s one thing you wish the public would realise about it?
Many people think Gastroenterologists also do surgeries for their patients. In actual fact, we are physicians, so we don’t do surgeries. The digestive surgeries are done by Upper Gastrointestinal, Hepato-pancreato-biliary and Colorectal Surgeons. So, Gastroenterologists work very closely with these 3 groups of surgeons.
I wish the public would realise the importance of screening for certain digestive cancers like colorectal, liver and stomach. They can present/rear their ugly head in late stages, so it is really important to go for screening when one is of a certain age and/or has certain risk factors.
5. Why did you decide to set up a private healthcare centre as compared to other healthcare settings?
I have worked in the public healthcare sector for close to 20 years. Eventually, I’ve come to realise that I wanted to set up something where I have free rein to focus on important aspects of patient care.
In the public sector, there are times when you are pulled away from patient care for other duties such as education, research or administration. Even the way we manage patients may be restricted in the public sector, and this is much less the case in the private sector.
6. What is the most memorable moment in your career?
This was when I was awarded the MOH Health Manpower Development Plan Award to pursue further training in Advanced Endoscopy — a subspecialty within Gastroenterology which I am most passionate about. I spent a year in London, UK, and had one of the most fruitful and rewarding seasons in my career.
7. What piece of healthcare advice would you give to Singaporeans?
Good health is not just about good physical health. Psychological, emotional and spiritual health is just as important and are often overlooked. Take the time to enjoy the moment, whatever the circumstances, so you won’t regret it when the time has passed.
8. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I like to run and do HIIT to de-stress and keep fit. I also like to read up on the latest car models and go for test drives when my schedule allows for it. Lastly, I love travelling, and I am so glad the borders are now open — hopefully, COVID-19 will soon be but a memory!
About Dr Benjamin Yip
Dr Benjamin Yip is the Medical Director & Consultant Gastroenterologist at Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre. He has been a practitioner in the field for almost 20 years, and his expertise lies in advanced endoscopy, where he performs complex endoscopic procedures, such as ERCP, EUS, deep enteroscopy Spyglass cholangioscopy and enteral dilation/stenting.