WHEN Mr Qiu Dejian first learnt about the Healthcare Merit Award (HMA) scholarship offered by MOH Holdings, he was excited that it allowed for degree conversion. That was in 2013, when he was pursuing a Diploma in Diagnostic Radiography at Nanyang Polytechnic, under the sponsorship of Singapore General Hospital (SGH). He was then in his second year of studies. Mr Qiu, 26, applied for the scholarship, as he believed it would be the stepping stone he needed to further his studies and deliver better quality healthcare to patients in future. It also would ease his parents’ financial burden. “As I was serving a bond with SGH, it was a natural choice to apply for the HMA scholarship,” he adds. For degree conversion in the MOHH scheme, a diploma holder joins and completes a related university undergraduate programme that builds on their diploma in Diagnostic Radiography/ Nursing / Occupational Therapy/ Physiotherapy / Radiation Therapy. To prepare for his scholarship interview, Mr Qiu researched the latest developments in the local healthcare sector. It helped that he was familiar with its issues and challenges, and had experience accumulated from clinical attachments as part of his polytechnic studies. After being awarded the HMA scholarship in 2015, he enrolled in Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, to pursue a Bachelor of Radiography and Medical Imaging. The scholarship covered Mr Qiu’s university tuition fees, and included an allowance that took care of his daily living expenses rent, as well as other expenses such as flight tickets and medical check-ups. After graduating in 2016, he returned to Singapore and joined SGH as a radiographer specialising in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
While studying for his degree in Australia, Mr Qiu observed radiography practices overseas, and learnt how Singapore could continue to improve in this field. “Moving to a foreign land alone made me more independent. The rigorous curriculum also challenged me to move out of my comfort zone,” he says. He also achieved a personal milestone by getting his academic paper published in a radiography journal during his time at Monash University. It was a review on the potential of an image reconstruction algorithm to help improve the image quality and reduce the radiation dose of Computed Tomography (CT) scans.He was subsequently invited to present his paper at various conferences in Singapore. Looking back, Mr Qiu says: “The HMA scholarship helped me widen my horizons, and gave me a global perspective when addressing the issues and challenges faced by our local public healthcare sector. “My overseas clinical experience has also given me the opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge and hands-on experience with a wide range of equipment, which has been useful as I am currently specialising in MRI.” He adds that he got to develop his portfolio further when he received invitations to speak at events promoting the radiography profession to prospective students and attended conferences to gain more knowledge and international exposure. His advice to aspiring radiographers is to learn about the work and challenges from people in the field. This will give them a clear idea of what they want to achieve in the sector in future, and better understand the motivation behind their scholarship application. Mr Qiu adds that as radiography is a “people-centric profession”, having good interpersonal skills and qualities such as patience and compassion will stand them in good stead.