Singapore Health Services
Special Feature | Organisation

Holistic Healthcare

Singapore Health Services
Healthcare is no longer just about treating physical illnesses. It has taken a more holistic definition to include the mental wellbeing of patients as well. Medical Social Worker (MSW) Sarah Lee tells us more about her profession and its role in the grand scheme of healthcare.

Receiving medical treatment can be a stressful situation for many. A patient may suffer from psychological trauma from an accident, worry about how an injury may affect their daily lives, or be concerned about the impact a treatment will have on their finances. Such life instances can lead to a mental burden that will weigh on patients’ minds and affect their recovery.

This is where MSWs get involved. With the role of assessing and counselling patients and families with psycho-social problems, MSWs work as part of a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals guiding patients through their treatments. Providing assistance in the medical, social, psychological, and financial needs of patients, MSWs act as pillars of support to help patients through trying times.

Sarah, who works at Changi General Hospital, shares about her motivations for choosing such a career and the sense of fulfilment that she derives from it.

How did your passion in social work come about?

Growing up with an elder brother with special needs, I had taken an interest to working in healthcare. As I was unsure of which particular discipline I was keen to go into, I decided to write in to various hospitals to request for short-term attachments with different allied health professions after completing my ‘A’ Levels. It was through first-hand observation of the medical social work profession that my interest in this profession grew as I saw how they could make a positive impact in the lives of people journeying through illnesses.

What are the benefits and opportunities you received from the Healthcare Merit Scholarship, under MOH Holdings?

During the course of my undergraduate studies, the scholarship covered my tuition fees, provided me with a monthly allowance, and supported a portion of my expenses for an overseas exchange programme. This enabled me to study and focus with a peace of mind, and to enjoy the learning journey without fretting over finances.

There is also job security that the scholarship provides upon graduation. It’s comforting to know that you will not need to scramble about looking for a job since you already have a position waiting for you. Additionally, being a scholar with MOH Holdings ensures that you are well taken care of in your career. There are various training programmes organised by MOH Holdings that will help chart your growth as a healthcare professional, so you know that you are always progressing in your professional life.

Sarah Lee Mei En

Sarah Lee Mei En 
Healthcare Merit Scholar

Medical Social Worker, Changi General Hospital

"There is a sense of purpose to my job as what I do directly and tangibly affects the lives of others in a positive way. "

Share with us more about these career and learning opportunities at MOH Holdings.

As a scholar, your career path will be rather secure. Based on your individual performance and interests, you will be given plenty of opportunities for exposure and promotion. For example, you may be given the chance to participate in overseas programmes where you will be able to broaden your perspectives on healthcare practices in other countries.

Another thing to take note of is that healthcare can be a really intensive profession. As such, morale is very important in keeping you going in this field. MOH Holdings understands this, and so they provide us with various programmes which will help to keep you motivated so that you may have a long-term career in healthcare.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

I am motivated because I am making an impact in the lives of my patients and families. There is a sense of purpose to my job as what I do directly and tangibly affects the lives of others in a positive way. I also find joy in my work environment, which includes my fellow colleagues. They are a great source of social and emotional support to me, and they have become an inseparable part of my life.

What skills and qualities must you possess as a medical social worker?

You need to be able to work in a fast-paced environment due to the acute nature of the setting. You also need to possess empathy in order to help patients and their families effectively. Finally, it is important for one to be a good team player as healthcare entails working together in multi-disciplinary teams.

What advice do you have for those considering following in your footsteps?

Firstly, find out if you have a desire to help people. Without this desire to serve patients and family members, it will be difficult to remain motivated as a MSW because the job can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Medical social work is a high calling, hence you should be certain that this is the profession you are keen on going into.

Secondly, apply for attachment programmes in hospitals before applying for the scholarship. This would offer you the chance to experience the daily life of a MSW and enable you to know whether this profession is for you. It would also be beneficial for you to understand more about the healthcare system in Singapore and to better appreciate the roles played by a MSW.