A personal conversation.
In this two part series, we will be having a conversation with our medical director at Arium Clinic, Dr Donna, to get to know her better. We will be posing a few questions to her as a friend and let her do the talking. Through this conversation, you will get to know more of her background, her perspective in life and how she juggles the many hats she wear at home and at work – as a clinic director, a full time working mom, an author of a children’s book, an avid dog lover and also one of the earliest blogger in Singapore. And she still blogs on her private domain at drdonnachow.com whenever she finds her time.
Our interview begins…
Arium: You were one of the earliest bloggers in Singapore?
Donna: Oh yes. It dates back to the early 2000s. At that time, I have a girlfriend who was studying computer science; she was very into website development and hosted her own blog. I was inspired by her because she had her own voice in cyberspace. And I wanted to do the same. To me, it was a form of escapade from the routine life in medical school. So I started to pick up basic HTML and website development on my own. Back then, there wasn’t many bloggers and readership was relatively good.
Arium: You were also the founder of a popular (now defunct) beauty forum?
Donna: I have a passion for that in my youth. Starting an online beauty forum seems to be the perfect marriage between cultivating a special interest group and website development. I have the opportunity to make new friends and discuss skincare / makeup / beauty related topics. The forum attracted a lot of like-minded people and there was a strong camaraderie. During that era, Facebook and YouTube were not invented yet. And people have nowhere to turn to when they need help on certain topics. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with managing the forum when I started working in the hospital.
Arium: So I presume you did this website yourself as well?
Donna: Yes. I have an idea of how I want to do things. And it is not easy to work with an external vendor. However, it haven’t been an easy task to complete this website within a short span of a few months. This is because I had other work commitments in the day and I can only work on my website at night, after my kids are sleeping. I have to burn many midnight oils to get things done. The learning curve to create a commercial website was also much steeper as a lot more issues have to be considered. To keep up with the times, I enrolled myself in a digital marketing course to learn new skills set and make new friends. Some of these industry experts have provided useful pointers and helped me tremendously. It was indeed a very humbling experience.
Arium: So what makes you want to start your own clinic in the first place?
Donna: I have thought about it for many years before coming to this decision. Throughout my past 10 years as an aesthetics doctor, I have witnessed many good and bad practices. Most of the time, I had little or no control over things which I felt mattered. My employers have other considerations to think of before they can implement change. That is part and parcel of life. So I feel that I should start something of my own and steer my own ship. It is definitely not an easy decision, but I am glad I have the support of my husband and my family.
Arium: What advice do you have for patients on how to choose a good aesthetics doctor?
Donna: I think majority of the aesthetics doctors in Singapore are generally well trained and have good skills. However, the better doctor should be able to connect with you, provide a clear and thorough explanation of your treatment options and respect you for the decisions you make. He or she should also have a proven track record and instill confidence in you. Mutual trust and rapport is what makes a doctor-patient relationship unique and special.
Arium: Describe your most memorable patient encounter.
Donna: A few years back, an anxious mom brought along her 10 year old son for birthmark removal on his arm. The young boy was very perturbed by its appearance as his classmates often teased him about it in school.
Despite having financial constraints, his mom decided to bring him for treatment because she realized the psychological impact it has on her growing son. As it was a special case, I discussed her circumstances with my then clinic boss to give her a discounted rate. The boy underwent a series of laser treatment to lighten it. It was not completely gone, but she was happy with the result.
Many deemed aesthetics services as non essential. To some, these are essential services. Society often places social stigma on a person because of his or her outward appearance. If we cannot change the world, the only recourse is to change ourselves so that the world would accept us better.
Upcoming questions in our exclusive interview with Dr Donna (Part 2)
- What are the challenges you face when you started this clinic?
- Share with us more about your family
- What are your personal struggles as a working mom?
- How did you end up as an author to a children’s book?
- If ever you can change something, what would it be?
- Tell us a secret about yourself
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