Dr. Peter Tan is the Senior Consultant Neuroanaesthesiologist at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), Kuching, Malaysia. He is the founding President of the Malaysian Society of Neuroanaesthesiology and Neurocritical Care (MSNACC). He also serves as the Convenor of the Special Interest Group in Neuroanaesthesia of the College of Anaesthesiologists, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia since 2019. He is the EXCO member of Asian Society for Neuroanesthesiology and Critical Care (ASNACC) from 2018 till present.
Peter Tan MD, MMed
TC: When and how did you start your neuroanesthesia career?
PT: I completed my three-year postgraduate programme in neuroanesthesia under the Malaysian Ministry of Health’s scholarship in 2016. The experience gained from this fellowship training was invaluable in strengthening the neuroanesthetic service upon my return to SGH. Among new services introduced are anesthesia for awake craniotomy and complex spine surgeries.
TC: What is the greatest reward of being a neuroanesthesiologist?
PT: The ability to provide a safe and good quality anesthesia to neurosurgical patients and to share my knowledge and experience in fine-tuning neuroanesthesia with fellow colleagues.
TC: Who are/were your inspirations?
PT: My mentors Dr. Vanitha Sivanaser and Associate Professor Dr. Wan Nazaruddin were very encouraging in my early years of neuroanesthetic training. Other inspiring figures are Professor Dr. Deepak Sharma (University of Washington) and Professor Dr. Girija Prasad Rath (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) who have been very supportive of my educational activities in perioperative neurosciences including linking me up to other global experts in this field.
TC: What has been your biggest challenge as a mentor?
PT: I would say the biggest challenge as a mentor especially to the trainees in postgraduate (master in medicine) programme is to evoke their interest in neuroanaesthesia. In addition, I aim to show them that what anesthetists do perioperatively could make a significant difference in the patient’s outcomes.
TC: Do you feel you are making a positive difference in the neuroanesthesia community?
PT: I’m glad that as the founding President of MSANCC since 28 May 2021, together with other neuroanesthetic consultants in the country, we could continue the efforts of our pioneers in improving the neuroanesthetic service in Malaysia. I’m especially passionate about organising continuous professional development (CPD) activities related to perioperative neurosciences catering to the audience in this region. Besides the biennial Neuroanaesthesia Symposium (6th edition in 2023), the second edition of Asia-Pacific Neurocritical Care which will take place on 28-30 June 2024 will also put MSNACC on the map as one of the active CPD providers in this region.
TC: What is the most creative thing you have done to engage your students?
PT: I always encourage my students to be daring to reach out and learn from other people. I’m pleased that MSNACC is now affiliated with other eminent global/ national societies e.g. Society for Neuroscience in Anesthesiology and Critical Care, ASNACC, and NeuroAnaesthesia and Critical Care Society, United Kingdom. The affiliations would lead to greater opportunities for collaborations and learning from experts across the globe.
TC: What do you see as a past, present and future of neuroanesthesia?
PT: Neuroanesthesia is a relatively new subspecialty in Malaysia, which started two decades ago. Nevertheless, at present, there is an emerging number of anesthesiologists with special interest in perioperative neurosciences from public, private and university hospitals. More people have completed training abroad under the Malaysian fellowship programme bringing home new knowledge and skills from various well-known centers to improve the neuroanesthetic service in the country. Furthermore, with the formation of MSNACC, I trust the Malaysian neuroanesthetic fraternity is on the right track for the future betterment of this subspecialty.
TC: What is your advice for budding neuroanesthesiologists?
PT: Move out of your comfort zone and dare to reach out to people as there are plenty of opportunities out there. Apply what you’ve learned to improve the neuroanesthetic service in the country even though you may face resource constraints- start small and move forward- you may be surprised by the difference you have made.
TC: If you were given a chance to choose a specialty career once again, would you choose the same or different AND why?
PT: I would still choose neuroanesthesia as my subspecialty. I’m proud of what I’ve contributed to this field both clinically and academically. Of course, I would not have come this far without the guidance and support of many people along the way.