SingHealth believes in keeping patients at the heart of all they do. At the frontline of patient experience as a Diagnostic Radiographer, Renee Loh has the Healthcare Merit Award to thank for motivating her to apply that philosophy to her practice. Her success is no fluke – with SingHealth’s and MOH Holdings’ support, anyone can become a healthcare hero.
In healthcare, you no longer simply admire heroes – you can become one too.
That is Renee Loh’s story in a nutshell. She was in Primary Three when Singapore was in throes of battling SARS, and would watch news stories about doctors and nurses at the frontlines saving lives. The little girl was inspired, and resolved to be just like them someday.
MOH Holdings recognised her determination and awarded her the prestigious Healthcare Merit Award (HMA), which is offered in partnership with Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), one of the public healthcare clusters, to spur her onwards. With their support, she could fulfil her dream and take to the frontlines of patient care herself.
Today, Renee is one of the heroes she once admired as a Diagnostic Radiographer at Singapore General Hospital (SGH). She bears the great responsibility of being one of the first healthcare professionals a patient sees, as she takes X-rays that are passed to doctors for their diagnosis.
Thus, this vital position has Renee fulfilling multiple roles of confidant, consultant, medical professional, and most of all a helping hand.
With the support of SingHealth, her story has come full circle – she is now on the frontlines against the Covid-19 pandemic, and a heroine in her own right.
But a question presents itself: why radiography? After all, Renee could as easily have chosen to be a doctor or nurse.
Indeed, the 27-year-old recalls getting an ephiphany when a radiography demonstration caught her eye in JC. “I was amazed at how human bones can be clearly demonstrated on an X-ray image just by using a form of electromagnetic waves,” she said.
She completed a Diploma in Radiography with Nanyang Polytechnic, but knew she wanted something more.
So Renee set her sights on the Singapore Institute of Technology-Trinity College Dublin (SIT-TCD) degree conversion programme. Not only that, she also wanted to look outside her field and understand the Singapore public healthcare system as a whole.
Thus, there was only one choice for her: the HMA.
“They not only offer it for the SIT-TCD degree conversion program but also promised continuous engagement for scholars after graduation,” she explained. “Since it was a scholarship backed by the ministry, the HMA was a gateway for me to be exposed to the entire Singapore public health system, and enrich my journey to become a full-fledged radiographer.”
Her reasoning proved sound. The HMA gave her numerous opportunities both within school and outside of it, and she developed a deep appreciation for the value of collaboration within the healthcare setting.
“Apart from allowing me to connect with other healthcare professionals, I had many opportunities to interact with the senior management in Ministry of Health and hear about their experiences.” She went on to describe transformative camping experiences, industry events, and even chat sessions that introduced her to Singapore’s robust healthcare system.
But such a network of high-quality patient care is only possible if everyone plays their part. “Each healthcare professional in a multidisciplinary team of care has their own targets to achieve and this can potentially cause disarray for the patient,” said Renee.
“The patient can only benefit through enhanced communication and collaboration between all the healthcare professionals in the team.”
Radiography, in particular, is a position that places a premium on effective joint effort.
In her work, Renee must not only use technical knowledge of the equipment to produce clear X-Ray images but also reassure and guide patients anxious about going through the doctor’s door. To achieve this, she liaises with virtually every other stakeholder in a patient’s journey such as doctors, nurses, other allied health professionals, external vendors and even ancillary staff to ensure a smooth patient experience.
Credit for her current competency must be given to the nurturing culture at Singapore General Hospital, which takes an active role in monitoring and guiding newcomers.
Renee benefitted from not only the in-house ultrasound training programme but external seminars, talks and even work-life balance initiatives such as dance classes and healthy eating competitions.
The radiographer expressed full confidence that the same and more would be offered to any aspiring practitioner. “The Learning and Career development department ensures every employee has opportunities to attend courses or workshops,” she outlined.
“In my department, there are numerous roles that we can undertake to develop ourselves in the clinical, leadership and research fields. We are also sent for various attachments within the hospital or other institutions locally or overseas so that we can learn from our peers, assimilate their practice and implement appropriate changes in our work in order to strive for a better outcome for our patients.”
Just as Renee was able to fulfil her dreams, she hopes others will walk the same path saving lives.
And to that end, there is no better offer than the HMA. “If you would like to enrich your journey in becoming a healthcare professional, the HMA is the best platform,” asserted Renee.
“If your passion will hold because the going gets tough, your dedication to care and make a difference will tide you through.”
This article was first published in BrightSparks Magazine July 2021. Republished with permission from CareerBuilder Singapore.