Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (fourth from right) presenting the National Clinical Excellence Team Award to Associate Professor Ronald Lee last night. The other winners of the National Medical Excellence Awards are (from left) Professor C. Rajasoorya, Dr C. Sivathasan, Associate Professor Tan Eng King, Associate Professor Tan Huay Cheem, Associate Professor Shirley Ooi, Dr Edgar Tay, Professor Lee Tat Leang, and Associate Professor Wong Kim Eng. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

THE doctor is in - and not just to treat patients.

In the case of Professor C. Rajasoorya, he also prepares lecture slides between seeing patients and takes time out after office hours to guide younger doctors.

For going the extra mile, the senior consultant in the department of general medicine at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital was named this year's recipient of the National Outstanding Clinician Educator Award given by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

He also conducts revision tutorials for final-year medical students and chairs the National Medical Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, which seeks to establish the standards across all three medical schools. 'The best reward for a teacher is when a student becomes better than you,' said the 55-year-old at the award ceremony held at Pan Pacific Hotel last night.

He and eight others were honoured at the annual National Medical Excellence Awards which recognises the efforts of health-care professionals to boost the standard of medical practice and clinical research.

The other awards were for National Outstanding Clinician Mentor, National Outstanding Clinician, National Outstanding Clinician Scientist and National Clinical Excellence Team.

The Outstanding Clinician Educator prize was added this year to encourage senior clinicians to pass on their skills and experience to junior doctors.

Professor K. Satku, director of medical services at MOH, said Singapore will aim to have 100 per cent of medical students move on to postgraduate qualifications in the future, up from about half now.

He added that this will mean an increasing need for educators who will play an important role in training the new crop of doctors and specialists.

The National Clinical Excellence Team Award was won by a team of four from the National University Hospital (NUH) and National University Heart Centre whose work reduced the time - by almost half - for heart attack patients to have their blocked arteries opened up through an inserted inflated balloon, from the moment they reach the hospital.

While the internationally recommended time is less than 90 minutes, the average time across all hospitals here was about 110 minutes from 2001 to 2003.

With the implementation of new operational and clinical processes at NUH, the time was reduced to 57 minutes at the end of last year.

Associate Professor Wong Kim Eng, 66, clinical director of the National Addictions Management Services at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), was one of two recipients of the National Outstanding Clinician Mentor Award.

As co-chairman of the National Mental Health Committee, she helped to produce the first-ever National Mental Health Blueprint in 2005 which pushed for a greater focus in managing mental problems within the community.

Thanks to the new initiatives, it is now easier to discharge patients from IMH because families are able to get more support from community programmes, she said.

Professor Lee Tat Leang, 59, a senior consultant in the department of anaesthesia at the National University Hospital, received the other National Outstanding Clinician Mentor Award.

The others honoured were Dr C. Sivathasan, 62, co-director of the Heart and Lung Transplant programme at the National Heart Centre who took home the National Outstanding Clinician prize, and Associate Professor Tan Eng King, 46, a senior consultant at the National Neuroscience Institute who bagged the National Outstanding Clinician Scientist prize.

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