Featured Doctor

TAN, Dr Tze ‘Lee’

Singapore - President College Family Physicians

What work do you do now?

I am a full time family physician, working with my wife and 2 other colleagues in a family practice, in a satellite town, in Singapore. We have been in practice in the town of Choa Chu Kang for 27 years - this is an charming old farming area in Singapore, with many of the families having lived here for generations. What is so empowering has been the deep relationships we developed with our patients over the years. We manage many generations within each family, from infant to the very elderly. Isn’t that what family medicine is all about?

I am Adjunct Assistant Professor in family medicine, and teach both undergraduate and postgraduate students from our three medical schools. I feel privileged to be in a position where I am able to contribute to medical education, continuing forward the skills and values passed down to us by our mentors. This is our window of opportunity to capture their hearts and minds during these formative medical years, which will play a part in shaping the course of the evolutionary development of health system.

Your insights as President of the Singapore College of Family Physicians …

In the past 10 years, I have been actively involved in the activities of the Singapore College of Family Physicians, having served in various positions, currently as president. During this time, I realized that in order to make a difference, we needed to be more involved and hands on. Primary care and family medicine had for years not been as well respected as the other specialties.

In recent years, our Ministry of Health increasingly recognized the essential role of family medicine as we evolved towards a better integrated more community-based healthcare system. Family doctors are now presented with ample opportunities to engage with various stakeholders, to craft solutions that work for everyone. I have found this to be most fulfilling, working for patients and colleagues alike.

In my capacity as President of the college, I represent the college, family physicians and general practitioners on various committees, liaising with government agencies as we work towards primary care transformation and integration for our evolving health care system. We work closely with our Ministry of Health to develop and refine our postgraduate courses in family medicine, such as our graduate diploma, masters and the fellowship programmes. We also work with various agencies on issues like our national electronic health records, appropriate care guides, fee benchmarking and healthcare finance. Our participation has given voice to the primary care community, and we work tirelessly to continue this good work.

Photo below shows Lee and his wife on a  friendship visit to the Taiwan Association of Family Medicine (TAFM) - welcomed by TAFM president Shinn-Jang Hwang and other well known colleagues in November 2018.

Other activities of interest?

I strongly support primary care research in the community. I am active in primary care research and have found the experience most satisfying. It introduced academic rigour into my practice, and this I believe is something that should be nurtured amongst our primary care colleagues. Research should not reside only with our hospital specialist colleagues, we can do it equally well!
I have also been involved in developing capacity in respiratory health in primary care, largely in my involvement with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease association, Singapore. I am very much involved in the activities of the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG), and served until recently as a director. IPCRG are strongly supportive of activities that seek to build capacity in primary care for improving respiratory health, and also encourage research in primary care respiratory medicine. In Singapore, my team has organised local and regional continuing professional development programmes in respiratory health, and conduct spirometry training, and updates in asthma and COPD diagnosis and management.

I believe as family doctors, we need to be strong advocates for our patients. We need a clear vision about what our patients needs are, and we need to clearly define how we as patient advocates can be equipped to help fulfil these needs. Patient empowerment is the way forward. And we as family doctors are best placed to guide our patients.

And your non medical interests?

I enjoy travelling and discovering new places, and making new friends along the way. I love music and enjoy listening to my wife on her harp. I play the violin and oboe, and enjoy wine, photography, horology and collecting 35mm rangefinder cameras.