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Cody showing cue cards used during reality orientation. Reality orientation is an activity that involves presenting information to help clients with dementia better understand their surroundings.
Cody Chew has always enjoyed interacting with people and lending a helping hand wherever she can, so it's easy to see why she decided to pursue a career in healthcare.
One of her strongest influences is her older sister who coached her during her days in junior college by creating detailed study plans and implementing a strict schedule. And thanks to her sister's efforts, Cody passed her A-Level examinations with flying colours.
However, Cody was unsure of what she wanted to do, so she decided to explore more on the career options available.
According to her, "I did some research but I was torn between physiotherapy or occupational therapy. To get more clarity, I decided to get some practical experience to figure it out for myself."
And so, Cody opted to take a gap year to volunteer at
Rainbow Centre and
National University Hospital (NUH).
During her time at Rainbow Centre, Cody worked with children with special needs and helped the teachers during playground activities and snack time. In between, she interacted with the kids and gave them her care and attention.
At NUH, Cody shadowed an occupational therapist (OT) and learnt more about what the job entailed. What particularly impressed her was the diverse role played by OTs and how they helped patients throughout all stages of their lives.
For example, in the paediatrics department, Cody saw how OTs used their skills to help babies with certain medical conditions such as premature births and developmental delays. They also teach new mothers techniques to aid a baby's ability to reach developmental milestones. All of these opened her eyes to importance of an OT and the career it offered.
In summary, Cody's gap year proved to be a fruitful one. Her combined experiences at Rainbow Centre and NUH convinced her that a career in OT was the right choice.
After her gap year, Cody pursued a
Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) at the University of Queensland, Australia, where she spent four years studying for her degree.
As part of her studies, she took part in a variety of clinical training that required both fieldwork and practical placements.
Invigorated by her previous experiences, Cody strived to excel in her studies, and her efforts paid off as she consistently received top grades in class.
During the third year of her study, she learnt about MOHH's mid-term
Community Care Scholarship when she was browsing through the scholarship website. Cody decided to submit her application and was awarded the scholarship in 2021.
Besides studying hard, Cody also set out to learn more about Australian culture by making new friends. While she missed home, the warm and friendly nature of people on campus made the entire transition easier.
Cody and her cohort mates at the OT Class of 2021 Graduation Lunch in Brisbane.
"I had a great time mixing with my classmates and other students on campus, everyone is helpful and really welcoming. Most of us who go overseas tend to stick with those from our own home country as we have more in common. I tried not to do that and to have an open mind towards everyone."
This approach helped Cody quickly make new friends with students from all backgrounds, and she still keeps in contact with many of her former course-mates to this day.
Aboard the cruise in Hervey Bay for whale watching.
During her term breaks, Cody and her course-mates would explore the vast open spaces of Australia and its beautiful natural vistas. She has also travelled to Adelaide and Melbourne during the holidays and even took a trip to the Whitsunday Islands, in northern Queensland where the Great Barrier Reef is located.
Cody also credits her experience in Australia as being a major defining moment of her life. It allowed her to develop important life skills which she still uses to this day, and helped her mature quickly.
"I never thought I could further my studies overseas, so everything feels new and exciting. For most, it's the first taste of freedom i.e., being away from your parents and living alone. There's no one managing you or watching over you. So, you need to be disciplined and learn how to manage your time, cook your own meals, and basically take care of yourself."
Cody has since returned home to Singapore to work at
AWWA Ltd as an OT, where she is serving her six-year bond. AWWA is one of the largest multi-service social service agencies in Singapore, delivering a wide range of services for children and adults with additional needs, vulnerable families and seniors.
Cody works in AWWA Dementia Day Care Centre in Yishun
When asked about her experiences as a practising OT, Cody shared, "One of the most rewarding things for me as an OT is watching my patients being given the chance to continue living fulfilling lives. I work with clients who are living with dementia, and I enjoy seeing them being engaged in activities that are meaningful for them i.e. leisure activities or being able to dress themselves."
Despite its rewards, there are challenges, as some patients can exhibit behaviours that require a unique approach to manage them.
So, while things can get overwhelming, Cody understands that it's all part of the job. And this is why she works hard to provide patients with an overall positive experience.
"I had a patient who was disengaged and constantly rejecting activities. But we persevered and encouraged him to join the activities. Gradually, he learnt to enjoy working with us and became more comfortable with the therapy activities. It was a major breakthrough for the team."
Cody has come a long way since her junior college days and has plans to do her best to contribute to Singapore's healthcare system. To that end, she intends to sharpen her professional skills by working in different care settings.
"My current role with AWWA provides me with plenty of learning opportunities. I'm still very new to the profession so I want to focus on building up my skills by working in different patient care roles. Doing so gives me a much wider view of things and helps me develop professionally. I want to learn as much as I can from everyone."
As for those looking to take up a career in the healthcare sector, her advice is, "Ensure that you're not simply going into the career because you like the idea of it, or are being drawn to the rosy picture it paints. Always remember that there are a lot more going on behind the scenes, make sure you ask questions, try new things, and always keep an open mind."
Inspired by Cody's story? If you are, you may want to consider taking up a Community Care Scholarship.
MOH Holdings (MOHH) is currently offering scholarships to nurture the next generation of community care professionals. It is offered in partnership with public healthcare institutions and community care providers. For more details, check out