#ChooseCardiology: Lim Ing Haan, MBBS, FACC

Lim Ing Haan, MBBS, FACC

Why did you choose cardiology?

Upon completing my internal medicine residency at Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore, I was offered positions in dermatology, gastroenterology, oncology and cardiology. I chose cardiology because that is where I was most inspired by the work. Being able to make time-critical decisions while saving lives is a great source of empowerment and motivation and the key reason why I chose the field. Additionally, I love to work with my hands, which is another reason why I feel really passionate about cardiology and intervention. I had the most wonderful training opportunities at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which is the busiest acute myocardial infarction center in Singapore, and then at Duke University Medical Center where I worked as a seventh-year interventional fellow in 2005.

What do you like best about cardiology?

I like the fact that you can institute a definitive treatment and get an outcome that may make a difference between life and death. I also like that cardiology is a fast-advancing and dynamic discipline. Within a year, there can be so many new advances in cardiology that you don't really see in any other discipline other than oncology. The speed of progress in stent and wire technology, intravascular imaging and developments like robotic percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is unbelievable. I also believe machine learning and AI will influence the future development of robotic PCI, and I hope to be part of the movement and an agent of transformation and progress.

Who has been a role model or mentor for you?

One of my greatest role models is Tan Huay Cheem, MBBS, FACC. He has a vision to make cardiology more inclusive based on the strength of a particular individual or trainee. For example, when I was a trainee, he was responsible for deciding who should learn interventional procedures. Instead of telling me what I should be doing, he asked me what I wanted to do despite never having worked with a female interventionalist. I was the only female interventionalist in Singapore for 15 years when I first joined the field. That open-mindedness is not a quality everyone has, but now when I see young doctors, I try to coach them to work on their strengths the way Tan did for me.

Why did you choose this area of cardiology?

I think that interventional cardiology is a field full of early adopters and innovators. I'm a firm believer in the early adoption of various technologies – I believe you should always embrace technology as soon as it becomes available. Now that I'm part of a private practice, I see my role as someone who can bring new technology in because I'm surrounded by like-minded early adopters. When I started my career, I worked at a teaching hospital, and in 2007, we started the first primary PCI program. I was part of that pioneer group, and that spirit is something that has driven me and guided me throughout my entire career.

What advice would you give women considering cardiology?

Women must be clear about their goals and confident in working toward them. When I chose to do intervention, I didn't take into account that there were no other women in the field at that point, and I never let other people impose judgments on me. At the end of the day, it's not about whether you are strong enough – it boils down to giving it your best. Finally, when you choose a discipline, choose something you really enjoy, focus on what you see yourself being able to do, and always be patient and consistent.

Would you choose cardiology again?

Of course! Not a day goes by that I feel like I'm working – it's a joy to be here.

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Lim Ing Haan, MBBS, FACC

This article was authored by Lim Ing Haan, MBBS, FACC, an interventional cardiologist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.