An IMU Alumnus, Dr Khoo Teck Kim is currently an Endocrinologist and Metabolism Specialist at the Iowa Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, Iowa, United States of America. He is also an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Endocrinology, Des Moines University. He is a Fellow of the American College of Endocrinology (FACE) and Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCD). Dr Khoo started his foray in medicine when he joined the then International Medical College (now known as International Medical University – IMU) in 1996. He studied the first two and a half years at the University before transferring to University of Calgary, Canada, where he graduated in 2001 with his Doctor in Medicine (M.D.). “IMC (it wasn’t a university yet when I left) was the stepping stone from which my medical curiosity and career took off, and provided me with friendships, physician friends with whom I still stay in touch.” Upon graduation, Dr Khoo spent a few months teaching at IMU Bukit Jalil while preparing for interviews. He successfully obtained a placement in the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine for Internal Medicine in 2002. He then underwent his fellowship training in endocrinology and metabolism at the Mayo Clinic, which is ranked as the number 1 institution in the USA for the field of endocrinology. “I like physiology and working things out in the mind. So, Endocrinology would be a natural choice – it is a very cerebral specialty with a lot of problem solving and not too much direct action. Also family time was important to me so this is also a specialty that allows for it.” Dr Khoo has been active in volunteer work and helped establish the Salvation Army Free Diabetes Clinic in Rochester when he was a trainee. He was also involved in providing medical assistance in the post-Hurricane Katrina catastrophe as part of Mayo Clinic’s team to New Orleans as the healthcare infrastructure remained devastated even 1.5 years after the hurricane; this was one of the most fulfilling experiences of his career so far. Dr Khoo tells us more in this interview. What is your motivation to be so successful? I don’t consider myself very successful at all – I’m doing OK, and I’m satisfied. But my motivations are simple: family, and my belief that life is short, and we should make a difference while we can. My parents always supported me though afar, and encouraged me to go as far as I possibly can and I would never be here if it wasn’t for them. And now, I have a wife who understands the needs of my job, and how I feel about my patients. The Mayo Clinic’s logo of the 3 shields represent patient care, research and education, and this has been a guiding principle for me even today, something that I try to remember even 7 years after graduation.
Indeed, Dr Mayo once said, “The best interest of the patient is the only interest to consider..”. It is something I strongly still believe in.
How do you think your time in IMC have helped you in this achievement? It was the first of many steps; it provided the foundation to which more was added. It gave me confidence, that the unknown was not something to be feared, that we can always learn more, and we should not let that overwhelm us.
Your future plans To be more involved in the training of our young doctors, and to be more scholarly active.
Your advice to those who are aspiring to be doctors It’s a long journey. After all, if someone had told me when I started at IMC in 1996 that it would take 12 years before I would complete my training, I’d probably have found a different career altogether! However the key is to not look too hard at the big picture, but to take it one step at a time. It’s discouraging to think of things in terms of 5-10 years. But one day at a time, anyone can do it.