SSingapore’s public healthcare sector is one of the key industries that has a bright future. There are many career opportunities in this sector and there is a strong demand for nurses and allied health professionals such as diagnostic radiographers, medical social workers, podiatrist and occupational therapists to provide holistic care.
The Healthcare Scholarships offered by MOH Holdings aim to develop a strong Singaporean core of bright and passionate healthcare professionals with the heart and desire to make a difference in the health and lives of Singaporeans. Mr Chan Heng Kee, Singapore’s Permanent Secretary for Health, shares with us the key transformations that the public healthcare sector is undergoing to keep ahead of the healthcare challenges facing Singapore, as well as the exciting development opportunities that aspiring Healthcare Scholars can look forward to.
In your opinion, what are the main challenges and growing needs of Singapore’s healthcare system today?
Our rapidly aging society will be the greatest driving force for increased demand for healthcare and eldercare services in the coming years. Singaporeans are living much longer. Over the last two decades, life expectancy has increased from 77 years in 1996 to 83 in 2016.
How do we help our seniors keep active, healthy and socially connected? What healthcare models and eldercare services do we put in place to meet their many needs? How do we deploy our financial and manpower resources to meet the increased demand in a sustainable way? How do we leverage on technology without compromising on the human touch that is so crucial in healthcare? These are the big questions and challenges for our healthcare policy makers and professionals today and tomorrow.
Chan Heng Kee
Ministry of Health
Share with us some of the key transformations that is taking place in the Singapore public healthcare landscape.
We are determined to continue providing accessible, affordable and high quality healthcare for Singaporeans as our society ages. To achieve this, we will transform our healthcare system in three ways.
First, we will shift “Beyond Healthcare to Health”. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. We will focus a lot more attention to helping Singaporeans live healthier lives and avoid chronic diseases. Embarking on the “National Steps Challenge” and waging “War on Diabetes” are good examples. Second, we will move “Beyond Hospital to Community”. We will provide more healthcare options to Singaporeans in their homes and within our communities. This makes our services more convenient and affordable, enabling us to better live our normal lives. Third, we will go “Beyond Quality to Value”. We must be relentless in ensuring that we are productive and cost-effective in operating our healthcare system and providing eldercare services.
Our future healthcare professionals - what skills they possess, where they provide services and how they work, among others - have a big part to play in supporting this transformation. They will need to develop knowledge and skills relevant to serving our seniors. More will have to be prepared to spend time, partially or fully, serving patients in community or home settings. Different professions - doctors, nurses, allied health professionals - will have to work closely in teams more than ever to provide more holistic care. Everyone in healthcare must be open to adapt to innovative technologies and new ways of working.
What sets the public healthcare sector apart from other industries?
Beyond offering immensely meaningful work, I think the healthcare sector is unique in that it touches Singaporeans at every stage of their lives: when a baby is delivered safely to excited parents and their families; when a child grows up healthy because of safe public health measures and good school health services; when families can live healthily because of a health-promoting environment; when Singaporeans who fall ill have access to affordable and quality healthcare services that help them recover and return to productive working and family lives; when our seniors can age actively in their homes and communities because of supportive eldercare services; and when people have the option to live out the last leg of their lives in a dignified manner. Few, if any, other sectors are as encompassing.
How does the Healthcare Scholarships & Talent team in MOH Holdings groom the healthcare scholars into competent healthcare professionals and future-ready leaders?
We have a comprehensive process with many programmes to groom our healthcare scholars.
At the start of their scholarship journey, our scholars attend a Healthcare Induction Programme organised by MOHH’s Healthcare Scholarships and Talent team. They can look forward to a three-day camp which promotes bonding and teamwork as well as an introductory course where they learn more about our Singapore healthcare system and interact with senior healthcare leaders.
Prior to starting their course, some of our scholars will also have the opportunity to take on internships within the healthcare family. Some past examples include supporting policy research and reviews in MOH; assisting MOHH to set up government-run nursing home and promoting healthcare careers and working with the Health Promotion Board on national healthy lifestyle campaigns.
During their studies, our scholars can sign up for various developmental opportunities such as professional seminars, student exchanges and community attachment programmes. For those studying overseas, we arrange for them to undergo vacation attachments at our healthcare institutions during one of their term breaks.
Upon graduation, our scholars are invited to attend a Healthcare Foundation Programme that helps them transit from student to working life. Some of them will also be paired up with mentors who can advise and support them, while others will be invited to take on special projects or postings to MOH for a policy stint as part of their career development.
As our scholars gather more work experience, they can choose to further their careers along three main tracks: (i) Clinical Track, (ii) Education-Research Track or (iii) General Management/Leadership Track.
What advice do you have for aspiring healthcare scholars?
A career in public healthcare is fulfilling and exciting in ways that few other careers can be. We are looking for scholars who want to make a difference to the lives of Singaporeans. We need people who are open and resilient to change, adept in using technology and excited to contribute to the healthcare transformation ahead of us. We also want team players who can work with other healthcare professionals and across different healthcare providers to provide more holistic care to Singaporeans. If you have these attributes, I encourage you to consider a scholarship and join us in the healthcare family.