Each year, SingHealth trains over a hundred medical students through its Residency programmes. The Cardiology Senior Residency programme is a robust and dynamic programme which offers opportunities to train at NHCS, and the departments of cardiology at CGH and SKH. With Covid-19 looming over training and educational regimes worldwide, new challenges have been thrown into the mix.

We speak to our newly minted Outstanding Resident Award (Cardiology Residency) recipient, Dr Kamalesh Anbalakan (pictured above), of the SingHealth Excels (RiSE) Awards 2021 to find out what it takes to recognised as the top 5% of Residents in clinical and academic medical education performance and how he coped with his Residency during this pandemic period.

Why did you choose Cardiology as your Residency?

I have always gravitated towards Acute Medicine, and found that Cardiology provides a great mix of action and complexity to keep one engaged. Particularly, SingHealth Cardiology Residency comprises respectable mentors and like-minded peers which provides a nurturing learning environment for Residents to grow and progress.

I am also fortunate to be working alongside some of the best Cardiologists in Singapore. After three and a half years in the Residency programme, I am glad I chose this specialised field.

How has your Residency evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic?

When Covid-19 first struck, various restrictions were put in place, such as Residents not being allowed to travel across hospitals. This greatly affected our postings and limited learning opportunities at that time. In addition, Residents helped manage patients with Covid-19 which stretched the lean teams. It also trained us to be more resilient and adaptable to the changes that came our way.

The conversion to online learning allowed us to continue learning despite being segregated or even on quarantine, though undeniably, there were challenges such as poor internet connection and reduced engagement. On the bright side, the camaraderie amongst my peers have never been stronger during this pandemic, as we stood united as a team and supported one another along the way.

What did you gain out of Residency, especially during this outbreak?

The Residency has not only imparted me with knowledge and skills, it has helped greatly in my personal development – gaining grit and resilience! During this Covid-19 period, I have also learned to be a better leader as the Chief Resident such as managing and handling last minute and difficult changes to the roster. The best and biggest gain from this Residency are the friends around me who make work so much more enjoyable.

What’s next for you?

I have a strong interest in Critical Care Medicine. After completing my Cardiology Residency, I will embark on the Intensive Care Medicine Training Programme to be certified as an Intensive Care Physician. With the certification, I hope to better care for our critically ill patients at the intensive care unit. There is much more to experience within Cardiology and I have barely scratched the surface.

Any further tips for fellow Residents and NHCS colleagues?

‘The key to overcoming challenges is through perseverance’ – I believe that one must be mentally strong and capable to follow through a difficult task. We can find our pillars of strength and support in family, friends and mentors to make the journey less daunting. This is especially true in NHCS, a place that embodies the saying: “You’ll never walk alone!”