​“The art of medicine is not just about healing fellow human beings. It is also about being humane during the process of healing.” 

Known for always going beyond his call of duty to help others, Assoc Prof David Sim was the proud recipient of the recent Healthcare Humanity Award* 2019 - Open Category. 

Healthcare Humanity Award - group pic

Assoc Prof David Sim (second from right) pictured here at the Healthcare Humanity Award 2019 with his wife and members of our senior management.

Apart from his work in NHCS as a heart failure expert, Assoc Prof Sim has been actively participating in humanitarian missions. One such example were the recent trips to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where he worked closely with the largest general military hospital in South Vietnam, 175 Military Hospital, and its local Heart Failure team to provide medical training and conduct outpatient consultation for the military personnel, their families and the civilians. Together with NHCS team, a dedicated Heart Failure Clinic was set up in 2017, and this helped improve the hospital’s treatment methods and the care for heart patients. 

In this issue, we go up close and personal with Assoc Prof Sim to find out what life is like for a heart failure specialist like him.

Dr David Sim with heart failure patient

What is your darkest and best day as a doctor?
The passing of a young pharmacist (a heart failure patient) in 2006 was the darkest day in my life but also a memorable one for me. I was a Cardiology trainee at that time and the field of heart failure was relatively underdeveloped in Singapore then, with limited options for advanced heart failure. As she thanked me for walking the last journey with her, her kind words and appreciation spurred me into pursuing my specialisation in the field of heart failure. 

To me, there is no ‘best day’ because if I think of a day as the best, then every other day after will not be as fulfilling. Every day will be the ‘best day’ when we work together as a team to do better in helping our patients each day.

Whom do you look up to? 
My mentor is Dr Peter Bergin from Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. He is a very accomplished clinician, with a great sense of humour. He taught me that in this age of evidence-based medicine and technological advancement (which is the ‘science’ of medicine), a clinician should not forget the other aspect that is the ‘art’ of medicine. This ‘art’ is about treating patients as fellow human beings, rather than mere patients with scan and lab test results. 

Which value from the healthcare humanity award (courage, dedication, selflessness, ethics, compassion) do you feel is most important as a healthcare worker and why?
Courage. While many healthcare workers demonstrate great dedication, compassion and good work ethics, it requires courage for one to take a step forward to go the extra mile or even make small changes that can make a great difference to our healthcare system. 

If I were afraid and followed the norm, I would not have chosen heart failure as a sub-speciality, which was a relatively new field a decade ago in Singapore.

Surprise us with a little known fact about you?
The heart failure team is known as the Avengers within our own chat group. The members also made me the leader, a.k.a Captain America!

Perhaps Assoc Prof Sim’s superhuman courage to save lives on a daily basis really did come from some super doctor serum. Whatever the case, we are immensely proud of his achievements and thank him for his contributions in caring for our patients. 

About Healthcare Humanity Award:
The Courage Fund Healthcare Humanity Awards is a continuing legacy of the Courage Awards that were first given out in 2003 following the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Singapore.
The Healthcare Humanity Awards recognises exemplary healthcare professionals who go beyond the call of duty to help others. It honours healthcare workers that exhibit compassion, selflessness and extraordinary dedication to people both locally and beyond our shores.