I debated greatly upon writing this article. I generally didn’t tell people that I went to Singapore, maybe in fear of being un-humble, or thinking I was a workaholic doing placements during my holiday. But I honestly loved being in Singapore, and everything that came with it that I wanted to write this, so I’d remember it.
Let us start with the thing that everyone is curious about:
I attended placements in two different settings. One in an Occupational Therapy private clinic for pediatrics, while the other was a government hospital. I usually don’t disclose the name, due to confidentially reasons, and in case I ever wanted to write stories about good or bad experiences, people don’t trace and track my clinical background to pinpoint or blame a particular place (also so that hospitals or centers don’t track me down saying I broke the confidentially contract). It’s serious guys.
I spent one week in the private clinic, and spent two weeks in a government hospital. I would always say to myself every morning, “I don’t know why I’m doing this, I’m waking up at 6am in the morning during my holidays, while my friends are happily waking up in the afternoon.” It was placements, which entitled me to everything a placement would entitled you to: waking up early, going to work, attending meetings, walking for long periods of time, and standing for even longer periods of time, coming home late, being too exhausted to do anything else but just come home and sleep. Not technically “enjoying” her holiday so to speak, in terms of physical exertion. But of course, the knowledge and experience I got, had no price tag on it.
I won’t go into the nitty-gritty detail on what I learned, because there’s so much technically aspects to it. New assessments I’ve done, new models I’ve been exposed to, research based interventions, occupational therapy assistant (OTA), therapeutic use of self, how to write your short term and long term goals, functional based assessments, community visits, community hospitals, etc etc. I’ll share one extract of my favorite conversations between a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, and a medical social worker about a leg fracture case.
PT: He can only ambulate with the walking frame.
OT: But his house has a very high and thick curb going into the house, and in the bathroom. Can you try ambulation with clutches instead?
PT: But he doesn’t have the balance and strength to use clutches. What about we he uses a wheelchair?
OT: We then would need to install a ramp at his house.
MSW: But he can’t afford a ramp. They are not financially stable. This is also just a temporary condition, it’s a fracture, he would heel and be able to walk eventually right? So he wouldn’t be wheelchair bound for life. Why don’t the hospital just rent a wheelchair for them temporary instead of them needing to buy one?
OT: That still wouldn’t work. Because he needs to go to hospital appointments. And I talked to him. The distance from his level story apartment, he would need to get over the curb, then into the elevator, then go to the cab drop off point is pretty far. Then the wife would need to fold the wheelchair, and bring it up back into the apartment. Because when he gets to the hospital, they would be using our wheelchair anyway, it’s just too tiring for the wife to do all that physical work. What about scooting over the curb?
PT: He doesn’t even have enough strength to get from the sitting to standing, let alone from lying down of scooting to standing.
The conversation went on awhile, but it’s one of my favorite conversations because in my opinion you can really see the roles and interdisciplinary teamwork, and how everyone feels into their roles to help the patient. The physiotherapist works very much on their strength, ambulation, sitting and standing balance. The occupational therapist focuses on their environment, habits, routines, carrying out their occupation. The medical social worker works on financial aspects, discharge plans, supporting the patient. In essence, I just generally loved seeing the role of occupational therapy so prominent in the work force, and what we could do to help the patient, and how it ties in with the role with everyone else.
Overall, I learned so so so much through my three weeks there. I learned a lot of humility as well. Towards the end of my time, I did get some bad feedback about the way I treated some therapists, probably in the tone of my voice or the way I approached them. They guided me on what is the best way to speak to your superiors, or your seniors and even about respect. They really taught me how to be a better therapist and a better person overall.
If you wanna know more about it, and you know me personally, please do ask me! I love sharing about what I learned, and how we can all be better therapists together.
Haha! I survived a month of being vegetarian in Singapore. Disclaimer: I wasn’t vegetarian due to religious reasons, so I was very lenient in the food I ate as well. So if the soup had meat in it, I wouldn’t mind drinking the soup, just not eat the meat.
I survived on home cooked meals, chap fan, and eating yong tau foo in the hospital cafeteria for lunch for a good few weeks. I also had some of the best vegan and vegetarian options in Singapore.
I had the best time spending time with so many great people there. Firstly, it’s definitely my Australian twin, Becky. I honestly did come to Singapore because of her. Haha. I heard that she was doing placements in Singapore, and I checked my schedule to see that I had holidays during that time, so I figure it was finally time to do my Singapore holiday placements I’ve always wanted to do, so we could do it together.
It was so fun and amazing to have someone you could do everything with. Occupational therapy, going church together, going Bible class together, eating together, exploring together, talking about boyfriends (both boyfriends who have accounting backgrounds). It was so sad for me to cut our time together short. So thankful to the Lord, who allowed us to do this together, even for a short period of time.
Next, I have learned so much from the youth in Singapore as well. They are one of the most nicest people I’ve met, and with such strong desire to please the Lord and serve the church. It was so fun to just sit around and talk, and get to exchange notes as well.
I also had the most amazing fun time with my friends back in LaSalle College of the Arts. We sang together, danced together, ate together, hugged. They share stories about the art school and art program now, and how it’s changed after I left, their research projects, their relationships, their struggles. When I’m with them, it really feels as if I didn’t even leave.
Not to mention a shout out to all the amazing people who has taken such great care of me, like Aunty Lai Mui, Lester and sorry, more people who I might not have mentioned!
Last and not least, my wonderful amazing boyfriend who made an effort to come down and spend a weekend with me. Not really with me, it was always our dream to spend time with couples in Singapore, asking them for their advice on marriage and relationships, raising children, and Christianity. We managed to meet up with two lovely families, who were so willing to share on their experience. We had such a great time!
Whenever I think of Singapore, I would always think of the words of WongFu Productions in the video of “The Last”.
“Maybe it was my desire to be on my own, or to prove something to everyone back home…. a new energy, new experiences that really push me to mature more than anyone, or anywhere else. The city where I loved the most”
The city where I loved the most, is definitely Singapore. It will always be associated with the feelings of independence, of learning new things, or being on my own, of new experiences, of maturity. A city where I loved, and was loved the most.