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Dr James Tan received his basic medical education in the United Kingdom at the University of Leeds and University College London, where he obtained his MBBS (London) in 1998. On returning to Singapore, he decided to train in anaesthesia obtaining his Masters of Medicine (Anesthesiology) in 2004 and his specialist accreditation in 2006. He is also a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthesia (FANZCA).
His background in anaesthesia spurred his interest in pain medicine and he has been actively involved in pain medicine at both hospital and national level since 2004. He was awarded the HMDP scholarship to pursue pain medicine in Australia in 2009 and trained at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney under the mentorship of Prof Michael Cousins. His comprehensive training at the well-known pain centre included exposure to the multidisciplinary management of chronic and cancer pain and in particular, the ADAPT pain management program based on cognitive-behavioural principles, as well as various advanced interventional procedures performed in the management of refractory pain.
He is a senior consultant anaesthetist at National University Hospital where he practices both anaesthesia and pain medicine, and Assistant Professor at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He is also the Head of the Division of Pain Management Unit, Department of Anaesthesia. He was an ex-council member of the Pain Association of Singapore and, was the scientific chairperson for the ASEAPS 2013 meeting held in Singapore which attracted more than 800 delegates from over 50 countries.