After her A levels, Miss Evangeline Ho (left) was torn between several career pathways.
While the 25-year-old wanted to study biomedical engineering to help improve the quality of healthcare through scientific research, she was also keen to work more closely with patients.
After much research, she decided to study radiation therapy, where she felt both her interests in science and healthcare could work hand-in-hand to deliver hope to cancer patients.
Currently a radiation therapist at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), she pursued a Diploma in Radiation Therapy at Nanyang Polytechnic from 2012 to 2015, before taking up a one-year Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Radiation Therapy at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)-Trinity College Dublin.
Miss Ho applied for and received the Healthcare Merit Award (HMA), which allowed her to give up her part-time job at a clinic to focus on her studies at SIT. This covered her tuition fees and monthly allowances, as well as the expenses for an overseas immersion programme. As part of her studies, Miss Ho went through several clinical placements at different hospitals — including some in London in the United Kingdom and Dublin, Ireland.
She says: “Patients whom I had treated months before were coming back for treatment due to the progression of their diseases. Despite looking physically weaker, their fighting spirit continued to be strong.”
Those hands-on experiences in London and Dublin were eye-opening and she also got to observe different treatment methods. She learnt to consider each patient’s medical care from a multi-disciplinary approach.
She explains: “For example, patients with breast cancer are often treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
“Hence, it is common to hear patients complaining of numbness in their arms and legs. I advise them to do simple exercises and encourage them to continue their visits with the physiotherapist to better manage these symptoms.”
As a radiation therapist, Miss Ho treats cancer patients with sophisticated equipment and techniques to accurately deliver the prescribed radiation dose to the tumours.
She works closely with her colleagues, including radiation oncologists, nurses and medical physicists, from treatment planning to its delivery to ensure that patients suffer minimal side effects.
Miss Ho believes that her role allows her to provide moral support for patients going through their treatment journey, although some of her relatives assume that all she does is push buttons on a machine at work.
“It is a profession where you get to build rapport with patients because they continuously come for treatment on a daily basis up to a month or more,” she says.
A good fit
For those keen to follow in her footsteps, Miss Ho advises them to do adequate research on the various allied health careers available, and to sign up for job shadowing opportunities to get a better understanding of each profession.
“It would give them a realistic overview of the work, and if they would be a good fit in the healthcare industry,” she adds. Working in healthcare will only be meaningful if one has a heart and passion to help others, says Miss Ho.
She adds: “It may not be the most remunerative career, but the satisfaction derived is wonderful.”