Getting to know our doctors and their fellowships
Doctors go through years of training in order to be competent and qualified to meet your medical needs. Specialists go through fellowship training as part of their specialty training. It is sort of like an apprenticeship. But a very tough one! During fellowship, the doctor follows a specialist closely to train in a subspecialty. The doctor is called a fellow during their training. Our Urologists in Urohealth Medical Clinic are fellowship trained. Find out where they did their fellowship and more fun facts in this series where we get to know our doctors better.
In this interview, we hear from Dr Tan Teck Wei about his fellowship journey all the way in London.
Why did you choose to specialize in Urology?
Urology provides a good mix of medicine and surgery, and encompasses patients of all genders and age groups. It is a very exciting specialty, as urologists are usually early adopters of the latest technology, such as using robots for surgery.
Where was your fellowship?
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals in London, United Kingdom.
What was your fellowship training in?
Robotic surgery and Uro-oncology (a subspecialty focused on cancers of the urinary tract). The fellowship training provided training in the surgical management of complex urological cancers using the robot.
What was most memorable about your fellowship?
It was probably the best year of my life both professionally and personally. It was a privilege to work together and learn from some of the best urological surgeons in the world, and the training honed my skills in the holistic management of patients with cancer.
On the family front, I was there with my wife and two sons. It was our first time living abroad, without the assistance of helpers and family. We became very close-knit during the year there, and every one learnt how to do our share of housework!
Sundays at Holy Trinity Brompton Church were especially memorable. The church is located in a beautiful part of the city, and the church service always brings peace at the end of a hectic week.
What did you do during your free time when you were on fellowship?
London is such an amazing and vibrant city. Life outside of work is never dull, and my family and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves exploring the museums, visiting ancient castles, catching plays at the West End, and trying out various restaurants. We also went on many trips all over the UK, and made a number of trips to explore Europe in our free time.
What was your most memorable case during fellowship?
There were so many! The most memorable was probably the first time I finally did an entire case of robotic cystectomy with intracorporeal urinary diversion by myself. This is possibly the most complex surgery in urology, and is usually performed for patients with advanced bladder cancer. In this surgery, the entire bladder is removed, and urine is diverted, or brought out through a connection with a piece of small intestine. The procedure is usually done as an open surgery (via an approximately 25 to 30 cm long incision in the abdomen), and so to finally be trained to do it entirely in a minimally invasive manner with the robot, was the culmination of a dream I had harboured since embarking on urology training!
What was the biggest takeaway?
My biggest takeaway from my fellowship training is that all the smallest details matter to ensure the best outcomes for our patients. Everyone can be trained to do a surgical procedure. But it is the ability to look out for, and manage all the small things and issues before or after surgery that will ensure the best possible outcomes.
What did you miss most about Singapore while you were away?
I am used to getting a strong cup of kopi-o every morning in Singapore, and it was probably one of the things I missed the most there!
Any go-to restaurants in the country of your fellowship to recommend?
“Dishoom” for a modern interpretation of Indian cuisine, and “Barrafina” for tapas.
If you could turn back time, would Urology be a specialty you would choose again?
Without a shadow of a doubt!