P odiatrists work alongside a multidisciplinary team of doctors and allied health professionals to provide holistic care for patients with foot injuries. Besides assessing foot biomechanics, offering footwear advice and prescribing orthotics for musculoskeletal injuries, Podiatrists provide specialist wound care, offer foot care education, issue specialist shoes and prescribe insoles to patients with amputations, multiple foot wounds and other injuries.
Healthcare Scholar Sheena Tan is one such podiatrist who is part of JurongHealth. In this read, Sheena takes us into the world of podiatry, where she discusses her roles in the vibrant healthcare community and the opportunities she has received. She offers a word of advice for fresh graduates who could be potential contributors to the healthcare sector.
What sparked your interest in the healthcare industry?
Sheena Tan: Healthcare was always a field that fascinated me but I only really started exploring it in my second year of junior college. Being exposed to many areas of rehabilitation as a youth athlete also sparked my interest in the different allied health professions. I chose to undertake a few attachments after my ‘A’ Level examinations to get a better idea of what a healthcare career entails, and discovered that I really liked the dynamic environment in the hospital.
Podiatrist, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
Why did you choose Podiatry in particular?
Sheena: I personally benefitted from Podiatry when I sustained a bad ankle injury while playing badminton and had to get some insoles made. I thought Podiatry was really interesting as it added a whole new dimension to rehabilitation.
I chose Podiatry because I was drawn to the biomechanics of the foot and its applicability in sports. Most athletes have feet complications at some point in their sporting careers and I wanted to be of help. As I delved deeper into podiatry, I realised that it covers a much broader range of conditions besides sports injuries. I believe that a role in the recovery of this large spectrum of patients makes podiatry remarkable.
Where did you pursue your degree in Podiatry?
Sheena: I studied podiatry at the University of Southampton, UK. I opted for it since it was one of the top universities in the UK that offered podiatry. It also had a motivating placement programme which allowed us to experience what it would be like to work in the National Health Service.
What are some of the challenges that you have encountered as a Podiatrist?
Sheena: One of the most challenging aspects of my job is when advice or treatment plans are not followed, which can result in a delay in progress. However, I have realised that trying to see from the patient’s point of view and building rapport is an important part of the consult.
Apart from challenges, there are also many memorable episodes at work. The most recent one was my encounter with a patient who suffered discomfort at her ankles. Her long walks in the morning was quite affected by the inability to walk for long. I fitted her with a pair of orthosis, gave her footwear advice and recommended a regime of stretches. She returned a month later pain-free and absolutely delighted that she could return to her usual morning walks wearing the orthosis and appropriate shoes. It was memorable indeed. What we do daily may just be a “standard treatment protocol” but it makes a huge difference to a patient’s quality of life.
As a Healthcare Scholar, what are some opportunities you have received?
Sheena: MOHH provided many opportunities for internships, relevant courses and conferences while I was pursuing my undergraduate studies. It really helped knowing that I could just focus on my academics without having to worry about the cost of these supplementary conferences! I had the opportunity to do my internship with a local hospital during my second year, and it was a great way to familiarise myself with the local healthcare scene. It also made assimilation into the workforce after graduation much easier.
What can fresh graduates look forward to at JurongHealth?
Sheena: JurongHealth is not just a healthcare system but a vibrant community. At Ng Teng Fong General Hospital where I work at, there are countless opportunities to pioneer new ideas and initiatives to build up the Podiatry Service. Going on attachments to experience what really goes on in a day on the job is the best way to know if you will be interested. It was an eye-opening experience for me and I’m sure it would be equally enriching for anyone who is keen on treading the same path.