Articles, Blog

More Than Medicine | Joseph Heng, M.D. (Internal Medicine Resident)

December 13, 2019

[MUSIC] My mom had a premonition
that I was gonna be deaf.>>It was a full moon
three nights ago.>>There was a full
moon three nights ago.>>This is basically a
simulation of what it feels like for someone with cochlear
implant to hear speech. As far as I know, I’m only one
of a handful of deaf doctors at Hopkins, and probably the only
one with cochlear implant in the residency program. I’m Joseph Heng. I’m a first-year Osler intern
In the internal medicine residency program at
Johns Hopkins Hospital. I was born and
raised in Singapore. I was born profoundly deaf. But my mom raised me as an aural
person, meaning that I would just communicate primarily
through speech and lip reading. At 12 years old, I was one
of the first few people in Singapore then to get implanted
with cochlear implant. Yeah, that was life-changing. It opened so many hearing doors
that I never had access to before. Like using the phone, which I learned how to use
when I was in college. Playing the piano,
talking more to friends, and just being able to
function much better at last. I didn’t really know I wanted to be
a doctor until after my cochlear implant. And then realizing how well
the cochlear implant worked for me, so I kinda wanted
to give back.>>A lot of doctors that I’ve
come up against really refused to take into account what
I have to say [LAUGH].>>I totally agree with you, because– Ultimately, every patient, not just deaf patients,
they just want to be heard. It just requires more time
spent with the patient, understanding what they need.>>Thanks, appreciate it.>>Sure.
Part of what I try to do in my daily life is increase awareness of
deafness and hearing impairment in general. Just last week, I gave
a presentation to my resident peers about communication with
hearing-impaired patients, making them more aware of
the challenges they face so they can become a better
provider to them. [MUSIC] It’s not just frustrating,
but it’s also dangerous, because critical
information gets lost and that’s a patient safety issue. Ultimately, with the
medicalization of health care in general being a doctor to
a patient is really more about being a friend to them. I’m Joseph Heng and
I promise to fight for all patients’ right to be heard. [MUSIC]


  • Reply Louis Tatenda June 30, 2016 at 10:08 am

    I am about to complete my studies at school of medicine at University of Zimbabwe….what is the degree class i need too become a neurologist at hopkins university

  • Reply Angela Kouloheras August 10, 2016 at 1:31 am

    I am very proud of you.

  • Reply Baby Keylin November 28, 2016 at 10:08 am


  • Reply Tshtsh Alabade September 18, 2017 at 10:44 am

    so inspiring

  • Reply swara p November 28, 2018 at 10:36 am

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  • Reply Sara Khan January 17, 2019 at 2:14 am

    amazing amazing amazing

  • Reply A 6 November 22, 2019 at 8:01 am

    I just cant imagine how will he auscultate and differentiate crackles or a wheeze.. something so basic but very important.. but Im amazed by his drive and perseverance.. coz being a doctor requires you to see (clinical eye), hear (murmurs, rales, dullness), everything.

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