​Associate Professor Tan Bien Soo, Senior Consultant at SGH’s Diagnostic Radiology department, has a challenge on his hands. He has just been appointed Academic Chair of the largest Academic Clinical Program (ACP) to date.   The Radiological Sciences (RADSC) ACP brings together six departments across five institutions, namely the radiology departments of SGH, KKH, NCCS, NHCS and NNI, as well as the Department of Nuclear Medicine and PET in SGH.   This is the first time that an ACP has spanned such a large part of the SingHealth cluster.

“Radiological sciences underpin all other research endeavours in an AMC as they support and complement the institutions.”
Prof Tan Bien Soo, Academic Chair, SingHealth Duke-NUS Radiological Sciences ACP

To Prof Tan, the size and complexity of the ACP he heads is a blessing in disguise. “We will need support from everyone for our big new ACP to succeed. Our high patient volume can form a tremendous platform for research and education.”   Prof Tan further shared, “We have a leading role in the radiology field in Singapore, the region and internationally.   Radiological sciences underpin all other research endeavours in an AMC as they support and complement the institutions. In fact, a lot of research now depends on assessment of suitability for treatment and the results of treatment. Radiological sciences has the specialties to assess these results in a noninvasive way.”

Launched in April 2014, RADSC ACP is the tenth ACP formed in SingHealth and Duke- NUS.   It focuses on strengthening clinician researcher roles by offering protected time to physicians interested in research, as well as establishing clinician educator positions.

“For clinical services, the RADSC ACP will be focusing on rolling out cluster-wide subspecialties to encourage our clinical staff to develop their strengths or chosen areas of focus. In this way, we not only contribute to better clinical care to improve patients’ lives, we will be helping to grow our clinical talent.”

Talent management is an important focus for RADSC ACP. Given its large scope, RADSC ACP has the unique challenge of nurturing its talent across five institutions and six departments. 

Academic Deputy Chair of the ACP, Adjunct Associate Professor Ong Chiou Li, who oversees innovation and strategy, said, “We will be focusing on how we can attract and retain talent in the ACP given the competition from the private sector and other clusters.” A top priority is a mentorship programme to focus on innovation.

“We will be looking to overseas centres to explore the development of new technologies and solutions. Having a formal mentorship programme is important as it allows recognition of the mentors who contribute time and effort to guide young talent and, at the same time, ensure that talent can flourish,” shared Prof Ong.  

Prof Ong, who is the Chairman of the Division of Clinical Support Services at KKH, added, “As our ACP brings together different institutions, we hope that our radiologists can spend time on other subspecialties that are not available in their current institution but which interest them.”

With focus areas in the RADSC ACP which are not part of the traditional departmental set up, Prof Tan, Prof Ong and other key leaders from Radiological Sciences ACP conducted a study trip from 6 to 17 August to glean insights from established radiological sciences-related academic programs in the US. The visit to University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, University of North Carolina and University of Virginia helped them identify strategic thrusts and areas for collaboration to strengthen the ACP’s plans for the next five years and beyond.