I’m Pamela Tan, and This is My Way…

My Way series asks entrepreneurs, experts, and influencers to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured or questions you think we should ask? Email [email protected]

Plastic/Reconstructive Surgeon

Bruno Brown Plastic Surgery
(301) 215-5955



Dr. Tan is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specializes in the art of aesthetic plastic surgery. Her craniofacial fellowship at Children’s Hospital shaped Dr. Tan to become skilled in advanced techniques for both cosmetic and reconstructive facial surgeries.

With volunteer work, including mission trips to both Peru and Vietnam, Dr. Tan has a strong commitment to helping others and showcases it through her surgical technique and warm bedside manner.

One word that best describes your work pace:

Tell us a little about your background and how you got here.
I always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When I was younger, I thought I would work to make significant sweeping social changes, but then I became discouraged when I saw how long it would take to make such changes, sometimes decades. Instead, I found making changes on a very personal level; one person at a time was immensely rewarding. That is why I chose to be a doctor. I have the privilege of helping people change their lives for the better. I connect strongly with each person, so their success feels like my success.

Take us through a typical day.
I wake up, do a few minutes of yoga and meditate before heading into work. I stop by to see any patients I have in the hospital in the morning before going to the clinic or the operating room. I either see patients in the clinic or the operating room during the day. I eat lunch, write notes, drive home, and catch up with my family and friends on my 30-minute commute. At night, I make dinner with my fiance, watch a show, or explore the neighborhood (lucky to live in a walkable city). Even though I graduated from medical school over a decade ago, I study to stay current in my profession.

What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
Best decision I’ve ever made was to allow myself to feel complete and whole as a person before getting into a serious relationship. It’s not just about finding someone as if it were a happy freak accident. Instead, it’s a daily conscious choice to build and maintain a relationship between two whole and happy people who make each other’s lives better.

I like to think that all the decisions that ended up with bad results still taught me a great lesson in life. I would say the worst decision is only not making a decision, not taking risks, and going for it. Because life is a sum of all the choices you make, not making a choice is not living. And that’s a waste of precious time.

What was your dream job as a kid, and why?
I remember being 8 or 9 years old and looking through some of my father’s articles and reading materials on cleft lip and palate patients. I remember being fascinated and just wanting to do something just like that. After almost 25 years, I was able to take part in performing cleft palate repairs myself. I know how incredibly lucky I am to have had a childhood dream come true. I still believe that the cleft lip and palate repair is the ideal procedure, combining all the best parts of plastic surgery in the form of reconstruction, function, and cosmetics. Plastic surgery can completely alter the life of a child born with this congenital abnormality, influencing speech, appearance, psychology, their acceptance by the rest of society and ability to function later in life.

What woman inspires you, and why?
The answer will always be my mother. I did not choose my mother, but if I could, I still would choose her over everyone else. As a child, she was never my friend; she was always my mother. Now that I am an adult, she is my friend and mother. She has shown me time and time again that there is still a good lesson with every bad experience. Through her example, I learned that you could be both strong and gentle even when the world seemed to be confusing kindness for weakness.

What is your best time-saving shortcut?
Simplify. Can’t do everything, so don’t. Pick three things that you want to do that day and do them well.=

How do you keep track of your to-do lists?
I’ve tried all sorts of apps to remind me to do things. But the very best is the oldest, the post-it stickies. I cover my desk with them, and as I do each job, I toss it in the trash which is very satisfying.

What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal?
Paperwork. I try to do it as soon as a finish seeing a patient, so I don’t forget, and work doesn’t pile up.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with and if you spend the most time with your spouse, choose wisely.


My Way series asks entrepreneurs, experts, and influencers to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email [email protected]