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MOHH – The Importance Of A Speech Therapist

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Why did you choose to take up this scholarship?
Since my junior college days, I have always been interested in joining the public healthcare sector.  I wanted a career where I could serve and help others in need. I saw the Healthcare Scholarship as a wonderful opportunity for me to pursue my dream of studying the discipline of speech therapy and at the same time broaden my perspectives beyond the borders of Singapore. With the aid of this scholarship, I was able to keep abreast with the latest developments in Singapore’s public healthcare landscape and also had the opportunity to interact with senior healthcare professionals and leaders in the course of pursuing my studies.

What do you think are the strengths that helped secure your place for the scholarship?
When I set my mind to do something, I will endeavour to find all means to achieve it. I believe that this determination motivated me towards finding out more about the healthcare sector and careers in speech therapy. I also actively sought out opportunities to understand more about speech therapy. Before applying for the scholarship, I also looked for several job-shadowing opportunities at different hospitals. Those experiences heightened my passion for helping others and further affirmed my decision to pursue speech therapy as my future career.
With a better understanding about this field, I was better equipped to answer the questions posed during the scholarship interview and to demonstrate my passion for my chosen discipline .

Why is speech therapy your chosen discipline?
I have always loved working with children, and I realised that I have a knack for guiding and supporting those who required extra help with learning. As I grew older, this spilled over into other age groups and I found that I enjoyed serving and helping people of all ages.
I have a keen interest in both the arts and the sciences, even though I was from the Science stream in JC. I really missed arts subjects such as English Literature which was only covered in secondary school. The speech therapy course has a good coverage of both the arts and the sciences, and is therefore a perfect combination for me.

What was the most memorable thing that happened in your university life?
Many memorable things happened during my studies in Australia. I particularly enjoyed the various clinical placements that I have completed. These placements gave me the invaluable opportunity to experience the role and work of a speech therapist in the real world. One incident that I remembered distinctly was seeing a patient who was previously given juice with a thickened consistency to help prevent food from going down her windpipe. When I gave her the first sip of normal water in weeks, she grinned widely and said, ‘Water has never tasted this good!’ Her simple remarks simply reminded me of how important my role was in helping my patients overcome their swallowing difficulties and it reinforced my conviction in becoming a speech therapist.

Describe the role of a speech therapist and the challenges that one may face.
Speech therapists assess and treat people with speech, language and communication problems, and those who have difficulties in swallowing food and drink. These problems can arise from a variety of causes such as stroke, brain injury, congenital disorders and other health or age-related issues. Speech therapists typically work as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team, alongside other professionals such as doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals to provide holistic care for each patient.
Speech therapists often choose this line of work because of their passion to help people. Nevertheless, as with many other professions, there are also some administrative and paperwork to manage, aside from assessing and treating patients. It may also get challenging to plan the appropriate treatment for each individual, especially when the range of patients and their conditions are so diverse.
Lastly, the field of speech therapy is very broad and constantly evolving. It is imperative for a good speech therapist to remain pro-active in keeping abreast with the new therapy methods through participation in professional seminars, leader conferences, and learning from fellow colleagues.

What do you look forward to in your future career as a speech therapist?
I anticipate an exciting time ahead as I embark on my career journey as a speech therapist. I look forward to working in a fast-paced environment and meeting patients from different walks of life. There will also be many opportunities for me to collaborate with other medical staff members and further expand my professional networks. Lastly, I hope that my career as a speech therapist will also lead me to mentoring younger scholars.  Being a mentor during my final year of university was very rewarding. This was because I was able to pass on and share my clinical skills and knowledge with others who share the same passion for people as I do.

What important values should ­everyone possess and why?
Integrity, responsibility and respect are key core values for us who are working in the public healthcare sector. Having a strong sense of integrity and responsibility is also essential in promoting open communication and establishing good personal and working relationships. Being able to show respect for others will then help you maintain these important relationships. These values are also important in the work of a speech therapist, as we come in contact with many different people, be it our fellow colleagues, patients or their caregivers.

Do you have any words of advice for students who are keen to take up a career in the public healthcare sector?
As Singapore’s healthcare demands grow, so will the challenges of working in this industry. Having a strong passion for serving and helping others will help sustain your ability to overcome these challenges. At the end of the day, it is not the big achievements that will make your job meaningful, but rather the genuine smiles of patients and the simple ‘thank yous’ that will keep you going every day.

Chia An An
SingHealth Healthcare Scholarship
Age: 23
Now: Final year doing
Bachelor of Applied Science
(Speech Pathology) at
University of Sydney
From: Victoria JC