There are few professions which embody the qualities of immense skill and dedication as much as medical

doctors. Imbued with a duty to bring healing and alleviate suffering for those in need, doctors need to have an unwavering commitment to serve others using their medical expertise. For some doctors, the practice of medicine goes beyond being just a job; it is a divine calling to fulfil a purpose and make a positive impact on the lives of patients based on a deep-rooted faith and compassion.

As a skilled physician and a man of God, Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre Founder and Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Benjamin Yip serves as a shining example of how one’s spiritual beliefs can bring a unique perspective to medical practice. His faith instils in him a deep sense of empathy and understanding, enabling him to connect with patients on a personal level. He also recognises the importance of not only addressing physical ailments, but also tending to the psychological and social well-being of those under his care. For each patient encounter, he strives to not only provide medical treatment, but also a sense of hope, comfort and solace.

In this interview, we have the privilege of speaking with Dr Yip about his medical career, his views on health and wellness, his personal beliefs, and his deep interest in cars.

Good evening, Dr Yip. Thank you for hosting us after a long day at work. We greatly appreciate it. Let us get straight into the interview without further ado. Why did you choose to specialise in gastroenterology?

Dr Benjamin Yip: Good evening, thank you for coming down for the interview as well. For me, I have always been interested in gut and digestive health. This was true even during my early days in medical school. So, I think it was always a calling for me to either become a gastroenterologist or a digestive surgeon. I greatly enjoy gastroenterology and the problem-solving aspects of the job, and my main interest lies in advanced endoscopy. This enjoyment and interest have never dissipated throughout my many years of practice.

What keeps your interest and drive going?

BY: Gastroenterology is a fast-paced discipline. I greatly enjoy it as it keeps my adrenaline pumping. There is also a sense of instant gratification that comes with doing endoscopies for patients, which usually allows for diagnosis and treatment at the same time. Just as importantly, I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families better during their clinic consultations. Every patient has his/her own story, and I take great interest and pleasure in finding out about my patients’ background, and chatting with them about other areas of their lives outside of their medical concerns – where time permits. This also helps with patient care as we look into all aspects of recovery.

Speaking about patient care, what do you think are the most important aspects in this area?

BY: For me, good patient care can be nicely summarised into three aspects: Biological, psychological and social. We need to take care of all three aspects to ensure that patients recover well. In terms of biology, the disease itself must be properly taken care of – from start to end. This begins with diagnosis and treatment, and goes all the way to long term management. On the other hand, the psychological aspect involves assessing and taking care of the psychological setup of the patient. How well a patient feels in his/her head plays an important role in how well he/she takes to the biological aspect. The social circumstances of the patient are also very important, such as whether he/she has a supportive family or good friends who can help him/her along and provide support on the road to recovery. All these make a significant difference in how well a patient recovers. A patient’s sense of well-being is paramount.

Over the years, you have won a number of awards and accolades. How do you define success? And which award(s) have been particularly meaningful to you?

BY: We live in a very competitive world, and success is often defined by the attainment of wealth, favour or fame. It is easy to understand where this belief comes from, but I find it more meaningful to achieve favour with God and men, instead of simply accumulating wealth, favour and fame. Finding favour with God and men is not an easy endeavour. It is a lifelong pursuit that requires dedication, self-reflection and consistent effort. We need to be kind, while embracing integrity, honesty and humility. There is much room for personal growth in this journey.

Among the awards I have received, the one which stands out most for me is probably the Health Manpower Development Award (HMDP). This award allows the recipient (usually junior specialists) to go abroad for 1-2 years to sub-specialise in their chosen field of practice. The HMDP allowed me to spend an entire year in London, and during my tenure, I got to hone my skills, gain more experience, and make many new friends. I also took time off to travel around the UK with my wife when she came to visit me during the later half of my tenure. It was a greatly enjoyable time for me, and very professionally enriching.

Another memorable award for me would be the Ministry of Health (MOH) Health Research Scholarship Award, which allowed me to do a Master of Clinical Research at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for two years. These awards are significant because they allowed me to further explore my passion for gastroenterology and hepatology, and I was able to gain experience that I would not have been able to attain otherwise.

You had mentioned that gastroenterology is a fast-paced discipline. Are there any developments or opportunities in the industry that excites you, especially in your area of interest?

BY: My area of sub-speciality is Advanced Endoscopy, which is a fast-moving field. It is constantly evolving, with new devices and technologies that can help to diagnose, and treat a variety of digestive conditions more effectively. Out of many emerging technologies, there are two developments which I am particularly excited about. They are the Hot Axios LAMS stent (which allows conditions previously treated with surgery to be treated with endoscopy), and motorised spiral enteroscopy (which allows access to the small intestine like never before).

Outside of your clinical work, you have also contributed to your medical fraternity. Tell us more about this work you do.

BY: I currently volunteer my time with the Chapter of Gastroenterologists under the College of Physicians. The organisation sets the tone for all gastroenterologists in Singapore. When I was working in the public service, I also used to volunteer for committees in areas which I am passionate about, like the Endoscopy and Medical Devices Committees. Besides these, I also set aside time to teach undergraduate medical students, postgraduate trainees and allied health workers.

I have to confess I have not really done much volunteer work outside of my profession. However, moving forward, I hope to volunteer my time for some grassroots work and perhaps, bring my kids on mission trips when they get older.

Let us move onto the next part of our interview where we focus on the body, mind and spirit. What do the terms “health” and “wellness” mean to you?

BY: For me, health is about biological, psychological and social well-being, while wellness goes beyond these immediate aspects of disease management. It includes other aspects like financial, spiritual, emotional and

environmental factors. While I was training in medical school, and later during my time as a junior doctor/trainee, my experiences at these places taught me to always look beyond a patient’s medical condition. There are other aspects of wellness which are very important as they can impact on the disease. Fortunately, in a hospital setting, there are many allied health workers, such as our valuable medical social workers, who can help with these other areas.

How do you maintain or look after your own health and wellness?

BY: I have been going for yearly health screenings since my late 30s. I listen to my body and if I do not feel well,

I would immediately see a doctor. I also run and do HIIT regularly as exercise not only boosts my physical health, it also gives me a much-needed endorphin boost. I think it is very important to look after our physical health. This is true for both me and my family, as well as everyone else.

In terms of looking after my mental health, I think work-life balance is paramount. I make sure that I spend time away from work to be with my family and friends, or to be alone. I think it is a personal and family responsibility to look after my mental health, as I have to take care of my family. Time off is very important, but it can often be neglected by many of us. We are too caught up in the rat race. I think we all need to and can do better in this aspect.

Tell us more about your hobbies. We heard that you are very passionate about cars.

BY: As you know, I am passionate about cars and I think this started when I was a toddler. I was a playful child, and would often get reprimanded by my father. To console me, my paternal grandmother would carry me and bring me to a room on the second floor of their house. In this room, the back window used to overlook a major road, and she would sit with me as we pointed out the brands of the cars that passed by. I guess from then onwards, I associated cars with a soothing feeling! Unfortunately, despite my avid motorist interests, I do not get to spend enough time on cars. At least I do not think so! Beyond cars, my other pastimes include exercise, travel, food and wine/whisky appreciation.

Do you see any similarities between your passion for motor cars and your enthusiasm towards your practice?

BY: I think a good and functioning car can be likened to having a healthy body; and just like a car, the body needs “maintenance” too. The digestive system is like the fuel system, and I find great satisfaction in making sure the (digestive) system runs smoothly. This starts with a thorough check and an effective treatment plan. And if something is not functioning well, we fix it.

Let us now talk about the spiritual aspect of life. What are your core life principles and what do you think are the most important things in life?

BY: Different people hold different purported core life principles. For me, there are five core values I subscribe to, they are: Focus, strength, success, wisdom and responsibility. I believe being at peace with God, oneself and family is very important in life. We need to answer to a higher power, our own conscience, and be responsible to those around us, especially our loved ones. Living a good life is dependent on these. I am not saying material needs are not important – we live in a material world after all, but we can place less emphasis on these.

Any unforgettable life lessons you can share with us?

BY: I find myself constantly learning – everyday. A recurrent life lesson that I always get taught is humility. It is easy to become proud, and think you know it all and can do it all. But there have been a number of occasions where I found myself learning more by simply taking a step back and acknowledging my inadequacies. There have been times when reading up about a medical condition I am no longer familiar with, or asking a fellow doctor for help have brought about good outcomes for my patients.

For example, recently, I treated a middle-aged female patient with persistent abdominal pain. During diagnosis, her scopes were unremarkable and there were non-specific findings on her MRI scan. Yet, I felt there was something amiss. Instead of dismissing my thoughts and concluding that it was most likely nothing, I chose to repeat the scan in a few months. Lo and behold, there was an important finding and the patient needed to do another procedure.

We are now in the final part of our interview where we seek opinions or observations on everyday life. Firstly, in your line of work, what aspects of health do you often see people neglect or are simply not aware of?

BY: I have found that some patients are not aware of the prevalence of colorectal cancer. In Singapore, it is actually the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and second commonest among females. This means that it is imperative to get screened for colorectal cancer!

Also, even more people are seemingly not aware of stomach cancer screening. In Singapore, it is the seventh commonest cancer in males and ninth in females. Actually, advancements in technology have made stomach cancer screening much more convenient and easier. For example, there is now a blood test that can be used to assess your risk of early stomach cancer. This is less invasive than a gastroscopy, and can let your gastroenterologist know if you require more tests.

Another major problem I see is overweight and obesity. These can lead to all kinds of health problems. For the overweight/obese, it is a good idea to do something about your weight even if you are currently feeling fine. Overweight/obesity will put you at risk of complications later on in life.

What aspect of modern lifestyle do you believe is ailing people?

BY: A very sedentary lifestyle. There is just so much we can do nowadays from the comfort of our couch, and the smartphone should take most of the blame here! For sure, other modern conveniences like the robot cleaner also take the blame by making life far too easy. And instead of going out for a movie or playing sports, we just sit on our couch and watch Netflix or play video games. I suppose moderation is key. You need to strike a balance between enjoying modern conveniences, and actually getting on your feet to do things.

Parting advice for Prime readers?

BY: Take good, holistic care of yourself – biologically, psychologically and socially – and be at peace with God and men. Oh, and do not forget the importance of digestive cancer screening (among other health screenings)!


  • Dr. Benjamin Yip

    Medical Director Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre
    MBBS (Singapore), MRCP (UK), MCI (NUS), FRCP (Edin), FASGE (USA), FAMS (Gastroenterology)

    Dr Benjamin Yip is an experienced Consultant Gastroenterologist and the Medical Director of Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre. He sees patients with General Medical as well as Gastroenterology/Hepatology problems. His main interest and joy lies in Endoscopy.

    Dr Yip regularly performs general Endoscopies such as Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy (both diagnostic and therapeutic). However, his expertise is in Advanced Endoscopy, where he performs complex endoscopic procedures including ERCP, EUS, Single Balloon Enteroscopy, SpyglassTM Cholangioscopy and Enteral Dilation/Stenting. Prior to his private practice, Dr Yip served in the public sector for almost two decades.

    He was appointed Consultant at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) as well as Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH). He is currently still a Visiting Consultant at NTFGH.

    View all posts