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Dr Joo Teoh on being a High Achiever

With so many projects on the go—on top of his day job—it's a wonder Dr Joo Teoh finds time to sleep.

  5.5 minutes

Many specialist obstetricians and gynaecologists would go above and beyond the call of duty to help their patients. But very few of them would go to the effort of writing an entire cookbook, like Dr Joo Teoh has.

“I am always trying to think of different ways to look after patients better,” he explains. “All pregnancies are precious, but my patients tend to have more complex cases and so higher anxiety levels compared to others.

“When a patient has an appointment, I spend time explaining what is happening with their pregnancy, solving any problems and discussing what to expect. I’m a real believer that there are always other things they can do to make their pregnancy healthier. It’s evident that if you have a good lifestyle, your chances of having problems in your pregnancy are lower. So I wanted to think of a way to pass on that message.”

He knew he could talk about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. But when consultation times are short, it’s hard to follow up on whether patients recall his advice and act on it. He had written plenty of scientific papers and given talks on the topic, but they were mainly pitched at colleagues.

“So I thought, ‘How can I effectively communicate with patients outside of their consultations?’ Then this idea came to me—why not write a book? I have plenty of content to include and know a recipe developer—Kami Ramini—through colleagues that I could collaborate with”

The result is What to Eat: A Specialist Guide to Fertility & Pregnancy, and is available free to his obstetric patients or for purchase through Amazon and selected bookshops. “We took over a year preparing and writing it,” he says. “It’s got plenty of great recipes, and good lifestyle advice for fertility and pregnancy—I think it’s a pretty great book!”

An impressive CV

The cookbook is just one of the channels Dr Teoh uses to keep patients informed and connected. He’s very active on social media and YouTube, and has written articles and given talks to a diverse range of groups and publications, from The New York Times to the Perth Mum’s Group.

He’s very much a citizen of the world, having grown up in Malaysia, then completing his Bachelors of Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics at The Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland. He received full Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, London in 2008 together with Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (MRCPI). In 2013 he undertook advanced training in gynaecology surgery and laparoscopy (RCOG UK) and from there he moved to Scotland. “Most of my training as a registrar and some subspecialist training would be completed in Scotland,” he says. “I received a Doctor of Medicine by Research (MC, University of Glasgow) in 2014 for doctoral research in reproductive immunity. That year there were only two posts in the UK, and I got one of them.”

He went on to join the UK Specialist register in 2015 as a Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a Subspecialist in Reproductive Medicine and Fertility.

In late 2015, when the Scottish cold and the distance from family both started to get to him, he saw a job advertised in Perth and thought ‘that’s closer to home’, so decided to make the move.

Seeking finance

As part of the process of settling into a new practice in a new country, Dr Teoh needed to finance both a home and his business, which is how he came across BOQ Specialist.

“I had seen BOQ Specialist’s Alicia Scher in various meetings, and had heard about BOQ Specialist through colleagues’ recommendations, so got in touch with them,” he explains. “Initially I was with a different banking group, but I find Alicia and her colleague Richard Curia to be very good at explaining things, and they offer good quality products too.”

Like many busy specialists, his time is at a premium. “I was looking for a business loan and home loan as well. Alicia and Richard made sure that everything was as smooth as possible in the application process and everything was set-up pretty quickly.”

It was during that process that Dr Teoh started telling them about the other projects he had on the boil—all collaborations that solved problems for him and those around him. It wasn’t just the cookbook—there are shoes as well. “I find the surgical shoes we wear when we do operations aren’t very comfortable. I’ve seen some staff actually go in wearing traditional sneakers because they find the surgical shoes a bit hard and inflexible. So I got the idea to create something that is the best of both worlds; comfortable and flexible, while also easy to clean. I found a designer in the United States to help me design the shoes. It is a very long journey, but I’m due to get some samples soon and hoping to launch them this year.

It doesn’t stop there—when you focus on your patients as much as Dr Teoh does, opportunities just keep presenting themselves. “Yesterday I found an app called YogiBirth that provides yoga in pregnancy. It’s a pretty cool app, and I thought that’s a great app for my patients, so I decided to reach out to them. I spoke to the founders and found that with my knowledge and their knowledge, there is a huge potential for us to collaborate and expand the app in the future. How we actually do that is something we’re working on right now.”

It looks like the creative force of Dr Teoh’s desire to help will ensure he’s doing so for a long time to come. 


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