National University Health System
MOHH Cluster | NUHS

Walking the Path to Optimal Foot Health

Isn’t it fascinating how we often overlook the importance of our feet until they start to hurt? As a Podiatrist, Samuel Cheong En Ming aspires to shed light on the significance of proper foot care. He hopes to empower individuals with the knowledge they need to lead fulfilling lives, devoid of foot-related issues.

Samuel Cheong En Ming is a recipient of the Healthcare Merit Award (offered by MOH Holdings) and holds a Bachelor of Health Science (Podiatry) from Auckland University of Technology. He is currently a Podiatrist at Alexandra Hospital, where he treats patients with various foot conditions.

Our feet serve as the foundation of our body’s mobility and well-being. They enable us to walk, run, and engage in various activities that enrich our lives. However, when foot and ankle conditions arise, they can severely impact a person’s quality of life, causing chronic pain and limiting their ability to move freely.

Samuel Cheong discovered his passion for foot care during his mother’s visit to a Podiatrist. Intrigued, he delved deeper into podiatry, recognising the crucial role podiatrists play in enhancing patients’ overall health.

Conversations with experienced professionals solidified Samuel’s interest, affirming his determination to pursue podiatry. “Healthcare offers a meaningful way to make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted a profession that was more hands-on and impactful!” he shared.

Starting Off on the Right Foot

Hence, it comes as no surprise that Samuel applied for the Healthcare Merit Award (offered by MOH Holdings), fuelled by his desire to practise podiatry in Singapore’s healthcare sector.

“The scholarship was an ideal opportunity for me to achieve my goal. It was instrumental in fostering both my career and personal growth in significant ways,” he said.

Beyond financial support, the scholarship also provided Samuel with access to online programmes allowing him to stay up to date with the latest advancements in podiatry. It also offered language programmes in Malay, Hokkien and Cantonese for him to enhance his communication skills during the school holidays.

Samuel was also connected to a supportive community of like-minded Singaporean healthcare scholars from other disciplines through regular dialogues and events, where he stayed informed about Singapore’s evolving healthcare landscape and forged valuable friendships.

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions during his final year of clinical studies, Samuel was thankful for the support that the scholarship offered, allowing him to complete his coursework on time for graduation. He deeply appreciates the unwavering assistance from his scholarship officer and team. Their proactive measures to safeguard his mental well-being and manage administrative challenges were pivotal in allowing him to complete his coursework on time for graduation.

“They helped me to arrange for clinicals to be done locally and constantly checked in on me. This allowed me to have peace of mind during my studies and I didn’t have to worry excessively about whether I could graduate on time,” he shared.

From Knowledge to Practice

Indeed, Samuel’s clinical tutors also played a vital role in his transition to a Podiatrist. They were dedicated to guiding and instructing him on the essential practices and key aspects in podiatry. “What struck me was their ability to tailor their teaching methods to suit the unique needs of individual students, recognising that different students learn in different ways!” he exclaimed.

Furthermore, the clinical sessions were not limited to routine cases as the tutors would arrange special clinics involving high-risk patients. “This allowed me to work on and learn from complex cases, providing invaluable practical experience in handling challenging situations,” he said thoughtfully.

Samuel Cheong En Ming

The unmasked individuals depicted in the photographs are portrayed solely for illustrative purposes in this article.

Putting His Best Foot Forward Each Day

As a Podiatrist at Alexandra Hospital, Samuel’s daily routine centres around patient care and professional growth.

He starts each day by preparing a list of patients he is scheduled to see. Before visiting them in the clinic or at the wards, he reviews their medical histories and relevant notes thoroughly to ensure he is well-prepared for each consultation. While interacting with patients, he conducts comprehensive examinations and carefully develops management plans tailored to their specific podiatric needs.

In Samuel’s daily practice, detailed and accurate documentation is paramount. He diligently maintains patient records, capturing examination findings and outlining personalised management plans. These records play a crucial role in monitoring patient progress and enabling seamless coordination among healthcare teams.

“Collaboration with other healthcare professionals such as vascular and orthopaedic surgeons is an integral part of my role, as we work closely to design and implement coordinated patient care strategies,” he elaborated.

Apart from patient care, Samuel actively engages in a collaborative workgroup with other allied health professionals. Together, they focus on refining educational materials to enhance public awareness of podiatry and foot health. “Our mission is to deliver informative content that empowers individuals to better understand and care for their feet,” he affirmed.

Addressing the prevalent lack of awareness in proper foot care among patients, Samuel acknowledged a common tendency to overlook foot health. “While people focus on their faces and hands, feet often get neglected. We should extend the same care we give to facial routines to our feet,” he said.

“Samuel exemplified the significance of a patient-centred approach in his practice. Understanding that some patients might feel overwhelmed, he tailors his consultations, addressing crucial issues first. During subsequent visits, he gradually introduces additional information, ensuring patients comfortably integrate it into their treatment. “This patient-centred approach can better foster adherence to treatment plans and encourage positive lifestyle changes,” he shared.

Empowering Steps Towards Recovery

Reflecting on a notable encounter, Samuel recounted an impactful moment with a patient during a routine toenail care appointment. While examining the patient, he noticed a concerning mole. Considering her history of skin cancer, he advised her to visit the dermatologist, ultimately leading to the timely detection and intervention of a cancerous mole. “This timely intervention significantly improved her prognosis,” he said.

This incident was a prominent reminder to Samuel of his essential role and motivation to work in healthcare to make a difference in people’s lives. As such, Samuel is committed to providing the highest standard of podiatric care to his patients by staying at the forefront of his field. He does this by participating in monthly continuing education sessions, which serve as a platform for learning about the latest research and best practices in podiatry. Alexandra Hospital also provides ample career development and training opportunities to support Samuel’s professional growth as a Podiatrist and a dedicated leader.

Samuel is certainly not resting on his laurels. Having honed his skills in Negative Pressure Wound Therapy, which stimulates wound healing, he is now eyeing advanced expertise in wound care techniques “I hope to continue enhancing my expertise in wound management and explore innovative approaches to improve patient outcomes,” he said excitedly.

But his ambitions don’t stop there. Samuel also aspires to step into a role as a clinical educator, guiding and nurturing the future wave of podiatrists. This aspiration aligns with his dedication to fostering the field’s growth within the hospital setting.

For those considering pursuing a health science degree abroad, Samuel advocates seeking guidance from healthcare professionals and shadowing them to glean firsthand insights to make an informed choice. “Talk to those in the field, shadow them, and gain real experience before making your career decision,” he advised.