Dr Stephen Tong — the meaning of a family legacy.

A family physician with over 20 years of experience, Dr Stephen Tong owes his accomplishments today in part to the wisdom of his parents — in particular, his father, who imparted lasting values and left behind a legacy that would give each of his children the start they needed in adulthood. Today, with his eldest daughter pursuing a law degree abroad and his youngest an avid sportswoman learning to conquer the badminton courts in Singapore Sports School, Dr Tong shares how he wants to follow in the footsteps of his father to instil strong values in his girls and help them achieve their dreams.

How did you get to where you are today?

My father always wanted me to be a doctor — it was an expectation, I think. I didn’t have strong thoughts on this initially, but I did like medical science: I liked biology, physiology and learning things about the human body.

When I applied for medical school and got in, I began to understand and appreciate the practice more, especially when I was assigned to a hospital and got to work closely with patients.

I chose family medicine because I enjoy interacting with patients from different walks of life, and find the ability to see them through the stages of their lives highly rewarding.

I remember there was a couple with a child who had recurring asthma — both parents smoked and I had been advising them to quit for a while. Ultimately, when they saw how smoking didn’t just impact their own lives but their child’s, they quit. Being able to witness people change their lives for the people they love is heartening.

If you could start again, what would you do differently?

I might have been a bit more prudent with my spending, learned to save more and learned to build wealth slightly better. But life is a journey — if I were able to save more money and build more assets, I might be happier, but I don’t regret the path I’ve taken. I also would have started investing earlier, that’s why I’m grateful to Prudential and Jeanette, my financial consultant of over 20 years, who was very persistent in the beginning. But now, after many years, I see the benefit of having a stash of savings that helps give my family security.

How do you want to be remembered?

I hope to be remembered as somebody who cared and was generous with his time. I want to be remembered by my family for providing a comfortable home and safe environment. I hope my friends always knew that they could approach me and I would support them in their time of need and vice versa. I want my patients to have felt that they were able to trust me with their healthcare needs, and that I was able to advise and help guide them towards healthy living — and hopefully made a difference in their lives.


Did your parents leave you a legacy? How did it help you in life?

My father passed on while I was in the army, but the money he left behind was thankfully enough to support my three siblings and I through university. My father was an amazing man who achieved many things in his lifetime — he was an airport technician; a teacher; and at different points, an owner of a printing press, aquarium and florist. He was always a businessman. While we are grateful that he worked hard to make sure we were financially sufficient, what my siblings and I remember most are the values that he imparted. As the eldest son, my parents made sure I understood the importance of being able to take care of the people around me, something I still hold close to my heart today.

As a parent, what is the best legacy you can leave your children?

My youngest likes to joke that she would like the legacy I leave for her to be money, but I think she understands that we have a good relationship and that she can always come to me if she has problems. As a parent, I think being able to guide your children along and support them in what they want to do is important.

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