Celebrating Women In Healthcare : Dr Livia Teo

On International Women's Day, we applaud the accomplishments and contributions of women across diverse fields, including healthcare.

To celebrate women in healthcare, we dedicated this blog to Dr Livia Teo, a highly esteemed ophthalmologist based in Singapore. Her unwavering dedication to her profession, coupled with a profound commitment to patient care, has positioned her as a trusted and respected professional in her health community. She is currently a Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist at Nobel Eye & Vision Centre.

Dive into Dr Livia’s ophthalmology journey, which began with the altruistic spirit shown by her parents. It was further shaped by a deep interest in helping others and bolstered by the unwavering support she received from her family and colleagues. Her story serves as a testament to the power of inspiration and passion and the incredible impact women can have in the healthcare community and the medical profession.

What inspired you to pursue a career in ophthalmology?

My father’s passion and dedication to medicine greatly influenced and inspired me. He is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. He would always share the rewarding aspects of medicine with me: about making his patients feel better and about the joy of bringing life into the world when he delivers babies. He inspired me to do medicine, which was when I developed an interest in Ophthalmology in medical school.

During my time as a house officer, I worked in the Plastic Surgery department at the University Hospital and discovered an interest in Facial Plastic Surgery. While working with my mentors, I was first introduced to a subspecialty field in ophthalmology called oculoplastics. It felt like the perfect combination of Ophthalmology and Plastic Surgery. That was when I decided to embark on a career in Ophthalmology and worked towards joining the Oculoplastics fraternity.

What accomplishments in your career are you most proud of?

The SingHealth Star Award is awarded to individuals based on positive feedback and compliments from patients. Receiving such an award is profoundly meaningful for me, as it felt like a collective action of gratitude from my patients for taking care of them. It brings me immense joy and fulfilment to assist my patients in restoring their vision and witness them regain their self-confidence and self-esteem through aesthetic eyelid surgery.

Additionally, one of the best things about running my own practice and managing a great team is working with like-minded individuals who constantly strive to do their best to give patients a good experience. They are like my second family! My practice has also allowed me to fulfil my dream of reaching out to patients and their family members to educate and empower them to care for their eye health.

Women in Healthcare
Dr Livia Teo with her team

Who are the women who inspire you or serve as your role models?

My mother has always been my role model in my life. Her selfless dedication and support to our family is indeed a reminder to me that it means more to give than to receive. She remains the driving force enabling me to pursue my dreams of running my own clinic and practice. Her support, such as being there for my children while I am at work, is invaluable!

My sister is also my source of inspiration. She is a dentist and runs a successful clinic called An Dental, supported by a team of 9 dentists and over 15 staff. Her entrepreneurial spirit and boundless energy inspire me as, apart from managing her clinic, she also gives lectures locally and overseas, is a fully certified yoga instructor and juggles her family life. I always look to her when I need advice!

How do you maintain a balance between your professional and personal life?

It’s always difficult and tricky trying to find that work-life balance! Running my own practice means I have clinics and surgeries from Monday to Saturday. I actively find pockets of time to spend with my family. For example, I make it a point to send my children to school every morning and do my best to make it home for dinner and bedtime so I can have more time with my family. It’s always a great time to check in on each other and to tell them how much I love them.

I always block my schedule to attend my children’s school performances and gatherings. It can get quite hectic catching up on work before and after, but the effort is so worth it when I see their little faces light up when I show up! Saturday evenings and Sundays are dedicated to family, where I spend time and connect with my husband and children.

My husband is also an Eye Doctor, a Vitreoretina surgeon. He has been my pillar of strength throughout my career. When my work gets busy, he never hesitates to take on all the responsibilities of caring for the children so I can head to work peacefully. Things are a little better now that I have my own practice and a more flexible schedule.

Women in Healthcare
Dr Livia Teo with her extended family

How can women overcome barriers and stereotypes in the medical field?

I feel that the potential of women should not be restricted to gender-specific roles. We should always believe in ourselves, our capability and what we can achieve. What has worked for me in achieving my goals is carefully planning and working towards them one step at a time. Additionally, having a robust support system comprising of understanding family members and like-minded colleagues empowers us to overcome barriers and challenge stereotypes.

What advice would you give young women aspiring to pursue a career in healthcare?

Have a group of close friends that you can confide in and bounce ideas off. Embrace new experiences and gather your support team to help you. Surround yourself with people and team members that bring the best out of you. Be open to criticism and feedback so you learn and grow from it, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help!