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Monday, 26 Sep, 2022

Clinician-scientist and clinician-educator recognised at the 2022 National Medical Excellence Awards

As a nod to his contributions to prehospital emergency care and services, Professor Marcus Ong received the National Outstanding Clinician-Scientist award at the 2022 National Medical Excellence Awards that took place on Monday, 26 September. Recipients of the awards, which are given out every year, are recognised for their outstanding contributions in advancing healthcare, enhancing patient safety and driving research and education to improve lives.

Prof Ong, as well as Clinical Professor Chan Choong Meng, who is Senior Associate Dean in the Office of Education at Duke-NUS, are among five individual and team recipients from the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) who were honoured at the ceremony. Prof Chan was named National Outstanding Clinician Educator while a team led by Duke-NUS Associate Professor Swapna Kamal Verma from the Institute of Mental Health won the National Clinical Excellence Team award.

Prof Ong has dedicated much of his career as a clinician-scientist to improving the lives of patients, focusing on areas such as out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), and prehospital emergency care. 

At the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) where he practises as a senior consultant, Prof Ong’s efforts have led to a 10-fold improvement in the survival rate for OHCA—a breakthrough made possible by several interventions introduced by his team over the last 20 years. Some of these measures include the use of high-performance cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, manual defibrillation, mechanical CPR, as well as drugs such as vasopressin, intraosseous devices, motorcycle paramedics, first responder apps and other innovations.

The impact of Prof Ong’s data driven research also extends to prehospital emergency care, helping to shape government policies both locally and regionally that have been instrumental in saving lives. As the founding Chairman of the Pan-Asian Resuscitation Outcomes Study clinical research network, which includes clinicians, researchers and policymakers from 14 countries, Prof Ong has effected changes in prehospital emergency care policy in Asia.

Prof Marcus Ong

By translating research into impact in the real world, Professor Marcus Ong has improved the lives of patients in areas such as out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and prehospital emergency care // Credit: Marcus Ong

“The NMEA is a great recognition of the increasing importance of Health Services Research in Singapore, and the role it has in saving lives and improving outcomes for our patients”, said Prof Ong, who also leads the Health Services and Systems Research programme at Duke-NUS and the Health Services Research Centre at SingHealth. “It is also a timely tribute to all our dedicated researchers, clinicians and supporting staff in Emergency Medicine, working tirelessly in challenging situations to serve our population,” he added.

As SingHealth’s Group Chief Education Officer, Prof Chan is passionate about nurturing future generations of clinicians with his continued efforts to enhance their medical skills and competencies.

When education and training programmes were disrupted due to safe management measures that were imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Chan worked with various stakeholders to ensure safe resumption of essential clinical training, as well as assessments for students.

Prof Chan Choong Meng

As a clinician-educator, Clinical Professor Chan Choong Meng’s life-long passion lies in imparting his skills and experience to younger colleagues // Credit: SingHealth

Recognising the importance of having virtual modes of training in place of physical lessons, he also leveraged the use of gamification and immersive media technologies by working relentlessly with the Graduate Medical Education Office at SingHealth Academy and SingHealth Duke-NUS Institute of Medical Simulation to develop the resources and infrastructure to support virtual lessons.

For his outstanding contributions to the education and training of clinicians and healthcare staff, and his exemplary support in developing skills and competencies to uphold high standards of care and treatment, Prof Chan received the National Outstanding Clinical Educator Award.

Duke-NUS Dean Professor Thomas Coffman said, “I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to all of our winners whose contributions have had real impact. For example, Marcus’ work on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest has literally saved lives and re-shaped pre-hospital emergency care in Singapore.  Likewise, Choong Meng, who is a dedicated clinician-educator, has nurtured the development of a robust pipeline of future-ready clinicians across our SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.”

Other SingHealth Duke-NUS AMC winners


Duke-NUS Clinical Associate Professor Ng Kee Chong received the National Outstanding Clinician Mentor award for his dedication and service to paediatric emergency medicine, his contributions to advancing clinical education in maternal and child health, and his leadership during previous pandemics and disease outbreaks including SARS, H1N1 and Zika as well as COVID-19. Assoc Prof Ng is Chairman, Medical Board, and a senior consultant with the department of emergency medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) as well as a senior associate dean of the KKH campus under the Office of Academic and Clinical Development at Duke-NUS Medical School. He was the first paediatrician in Singapore to practice paediatric emergency medicine and has championed an approach built around the health of the mother, child and family. He has been instrumental in setting up the SingHealth Duke-NUS Maternal and Child Health Research Institute and supported key initiatives that improved the health of infants and children.

Ng Kee Chong

Duke-NUS Clinical Associate Professor Ng Kee Chong received the National Outstanding Clinician Mentor Award // Credit: KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital

The CHAT team

The CHAT team featuring (L-R): Dr Charmaine Tang Yu Zheng, Ms Chloe Ang Choo Eng, Associate Professor Swapna Kamal Verma and Ms Lee Yi Ping // Credit: Institute of Mental Health

The National Clinical Excellence Team award was presented to the CHAT team from the Institute of Mental Health for their model targeted at delivering high-quality services to distressed young people by improving their access to care. Since its inception in 2009, CHAT has become the “go-to” resource for youth mental health information, professional support, training and collaboration in advocacy work. The CHAT team is led by Duke-NUS Associate Professor Swapna Kamal Verma, Chairman of IMH’s Medical Board and Programme Director for CHAT who is joined by Dr Charmaine Tang Yu Zheng, Chief at IMH’s Department of Psychosis and Deputy Programme Director of CHAT; Ms Lee Yi Ping, Principal Case Manager for CHAT, and Ms Chloe Ang Choo Eng, Manager at IMH’s Department of Psychosis & CHAT.

The CareLine team

The CareLine team featuring (L-R): Mr Eric Chen, Ms Pearline Lee, Ms Claudia Ma and team lead, Adjunct Associate Professor Eugene Shum // Credit: Changi General Hospital

A team from Changi General Hospital (CGH) and the Agency for Integrated Care also received a National Clinical Excellence Team award for their dedication in establishing an innovative telecare ecosystem that supports senior citizens to live and age well in the community. Called CareLine, this 24/7 personal care telephone service was pioneered by CGH for vulnerable older people in need of urgent assistance. It helps to keep particularly those who may be living alone or are frail safe and stay healthy at home and in their community. The CareLine team comprises adjunct Associate Professor Eugene Shum, Chief Community Development Officer at CGH; Ms Pearline Lee, Deputy Director of Home Care and Safety at CGH; her colleague Claudia Ma, a senior executive in the Home Care and Safety team; as well as Mr Eric Chen, Director of Operations at the Silver Generation Office at the Agency for Integrated Care.