The Singapore Integrated Programme (SGIP) for Cardiothoracic Surgery is conducted annually to nurture talents into the next generation of doctors. The programme aims to provide aspiring cardiothoracic surgeons the exposure to cardiothoracic surgery clinical cases in NHCS, National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS), and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), and to better equip them with both clinical and surgical skills in cardiac care. 

In this year’s Residency in SingHealth Excels (RiSE) Awards, Dr Wang Dao Bo clinched the Outstanding Resident Award under the SGIP for Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr Wang sheds light on the challenges and achievements he encountered during his residency journey as well as his various research pursuits.

Dr Wang presenting a case on behalf of his team.

How has the SGIP Cardiothoracic Surgery residency programme enhanced your learning experience and what area(s) did you find most beneficial?

The main difference in the integrated programme as compared to the earlier programme is that residents now have the opportunity to do their postings at SingHealth – namely, NHCS and KKH, and NUHCS. At SingHealth, where I was based at, we pride ourselves on the diversity of cases including heart failure and adult congenital heart disease, to name a few. On the other hand, NUHCS offers great insights into their minimally invasive cardiac surgery and robotic thoracic surgery programmes. This integration and nationalisation of the residency programme provided an opportunity to be exposed to the best of both worlds.

What area(s) of cardiothoracic surgery are you most interested in, and why?

I am interested in adult cardiac surgery, specifically in the area of heart failure and cardiomyopathy. Most of the surgeries we do are reconstructive and aim to prolong life and improve the functional status of the patient. This is especially true in the area of heart failure surgery. In the extremes of cases, patients with advanced heart failure can be in the intensive care unit dependent on machines for their survival, such as a ventilator, dialysis machine, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – a machine that takes over the function of the heart and lungs. However, with the help of a left ventricular assist device which is a mechanical heart pump, or a new heart (for the lucky few who can wait until they undergo a heart transplantation), these patients can walk out of the hospital and return to their daily lives without many limitations. 

What challenges have you faced in your residency thus far, given the rise of heart disease in Singapore?

The long working hours and unpredictable schedules are some of the main challenges that I have faced so far, especially when the patients are having more complex conditions than ever. That said, whenever I have questions, I know that I can always approach the faculty members from various institutions. My fellow residents are also always ready to step up and take on more responsibilities to help one another. Thankfully, I also have an understanding wife who tries not to complain too much about my long working hours!

Can you share a memorable case you have experienced and how that episode has influenced your journey?

I had a patient with a free wall rupture which is a dreaded complication after a myocardial infarction with high mortality risk. We managed to temporise his condition by putting him on ECMO support and successfully performed surgery to repair the rupture with bypass grafting. Subsequently, he recovered well and was discharged back to the community. This experience made me realise that with excellent technical skills and medical knowledge, we can really make a difference for the patients. This motivated me to work harder to hone my surgical skills and improve on my medical knowledge so that I can provide the best care for my patients in the future.

What are your research interests or pursuits? 

I am always keen in looking for ways to improve how we do surgery. Thus, my research interests include surgical innovation especially in the areas of cardiomyopathy, heart failure and mechanical support.

Our sincere congratulations again to Dr Wang Dao Bo! It is always inspiring to see individuals giving their heart and soul into creating a good healthcare system.

Click here to view the full list of winners of the Residency in SingHealth Excels (RiSE) Awards 2023.

Find out more about the SingHealth Residency Programmes for Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery.