Meet Andy Sim, MSW ’13

Andy Sim, MSW ’13, is a senior medical worker at Singapore General Hospital; a graduate of the School’s Zelda Foster Program in Palliative and End-of-Life Care MSW Fellowship program; and the recipient of the 2015 AM•EI Golden Apple Outstanding Young Educator Award (Allied Health). Alexis Koh is a current student in the Zelda Foster program.

Alexis Koh (AK): You are participating in a pilot project to formalize advance care planning (ACP) at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Can you share more about this project?
Andy Sim (AS): ACP is a voluntary communication process in which an individual shares personal goals, values, beliefs, and future healthcare preferences with family members and health care professionals. At SGH, I helped to develop the training programs to educate health care professionals about ACP. To date, we have completed more than 25 advocate training workshops and trained more than 600 health care professionals. I am also developing blended-learning curricula for young doctors and medical students.

AK: How has the Zelda Foster Fellowship helped you in the ACP project and professionally in your role at SGH?
AS: The Fellowship helped define my identity as a palliative care social worker and enriched my learning and professional growth. I was taught by Clinical Professor Susan Gerbino and introduced to seasoned clinicians and educators in the field of palliative medicine and end-of-life care. My Zelda mentor, Esther Chachkes, is a great source of support. She helps me critically analyze my issues and concerns and often shares experiences from her career.

AK: If you were starting out in palliative and end-of-life care now, what advice would you give yourself?
AS:  Be patient with yourself. Learn to take good care of yourself and make every effort to allocate time for your loved ones. Commit to continuous learning, be courageous to ask questions, and have the humility to learn from others.

AK: What drives you every day?
AS: Knowing that I can create a positive impact in another person’s life.

AK:  How do you take care of yourself?
AS: Going for an evening run helps me detach myself from work, and I feel much better emotionally and physically afterward. I am also blessed with loving parents and close friends, my clinical supervisor at work, Dr. Chachkes, and colleagues from whom I seek advice and with whom I share my thoughts.

AK:  Share your favorite quote. Why is this your favorite?
AS: "True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost." — Arthur Ashe
I have come to realize that we need to appreciate, harness, and develop our human capacity to sit with someone else’s pain, vulnerability, and suffering. This ability is remarkably sobering, undramatic, and often unattractive.