Dr Sundus, welcome to IMC!
Firstly, how long have you been in Singapore?
This is my 10th year in Singapore. My husband and I left our jobs in London and came to Singapore seeking a “two year adventure”, working and exploring South-East Asia. As with many expats, the two years rolled into 10 (!) and 2 children later, we now call Singapore our home.
Vienna has just been voted the best place in the world to live. What was it like as city to grow up in?
My family are originally from Iraq. My father worked within the international community and so my brother and I attended the Vienna International School. I have fond memories of my childhood growing up in an architecturally beautiful, and historically rich, city. As a child Vienna was safe, had lots of wonderful parks to play in, outdoors pools and of course the beautiful Danube and countryside. Summers were warm and winters were mostly white, so building igloos and going sledging were our favourite winter pastimes. I now really miss a ‘White Christmas’.
So……do you listen to Mozart?
I do, and many other composers. Growing up my dad played classical music at home, especially on a Sunday, which was always a relaxed family day. Now when I need to concentrate on work or want to relax and de-stress, I always turn to classical music. I am also certain that listening to classical music helped me focus better on those numerous medical exams.
Why did you decide to become a Doctor? And why train in London?
Growing up, I was the first doctor in my family (many younger cousins have since followed suit). I have always loved science and helping others, so becoming a doctor was a natural career choice that I made quite early on in life. I remember family friends, who were doctors, telling me to rethink this career choice due to the long hours and night shifts, but nothing would deter me (and I am so pleased I stuck to my choice)! I chose King’s College in London as I wanted a medical school with a great reputation in a cosmopolitan and diverse city that had more to offer than just being a student town.
You have been practising within the international community of Singapore for many years. What is your favourite aspect of being a Doctor here?
Being a ‘third culture kid’ myself and having grown up within an international community, I love the diversity of my patients here in Singapore. My background helps me understand the cultural sensitivities and how these affect patient’s health beliefs and their expectation of healthcare provision, allowing me to provide a more personalised approach. I also understand and can share with my patients the joys and the challenges of living as an expat, with family being so far away.
You do pro bono work at HOME charity for foreign domestic workers. Tell us about your time spent there.
I believe that everyone should have access to healthcare – it is a basic human right. Unfortunately the women at HOME have difficulty accessing free or cheap healthcare, so as a medical advisor to HOME I am fortunate to be able to provide healthcare advice to these women. Giving back to the community has always been something that is important to me.
You teach communication studies to medical students at LKC Medical School. In your experience, what is the key to good communication as a doctor?
How to take an accurate and thorough medical history for the purposes of making a diagnosis was the only communication skill I was taught as a medical student. Fortunately medical education has progressed and the value of patient-centered communication skills, which I only came across as a GP, is now part of the medical curriculum right from the first year of medical school.
I believe the key to good communication skills as a doctor is not only to diagnose the patient’s medical problem, but also to understand your patient’s perception of his or her health problem and how it impacts him/her physically, emotionally and socially. This allows a doctor to treat the patient as an individual rather than as a medical condition.
Dr Sundus is based in IMC Katong and speaks German and Arabic.
Call 6342 4440 to make an appointment.