Ms Jace Ng sees the vocation of a physiotherapist as one that ignites hope in patients, beyond just making a diagnosis and implementing a treatment for them. PHOTO: Max Chan
By Aster Tan
It happened during a major touch rugby match against a rival junior college. Ms Jace Ng, then the vice-captain of Dunman High School’s team, had jumped to receive a pass in mid-air. She got the ball, but landed awkwardly, and heard her knee go “pop”. The next thing she remembers is falling to the ground, clutching her knee in agony.
Despite the pain, she wanted to continue competing. But when she tried running, she felt a constant “giving way” sensation in her knee. “That’s when I knew something was wrong. I did not want to pull down the team, so I sat out the rest of the match,” Ms Ng, who is now 20, recalls.
She consulted a specialist, who confirmed her worst fears. She had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament – a key ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shinbone – and had to undergo surgery, followed by rehabilitation.
Regaining confidence and strength
The nine months that followed the operation were especially challenging. Once a sporty individual, Ms Ng could no longer perform many everyday tasks, such as walking steadily, climbing stairs and even doing simple chores.
She recalls: “My mood was terribly affected. Being unable to play touch rugby also made me feel like a part of my identity had been taken away.”
Fortunately, on Ms Ng’s road to recovery, her family and friends were her pillars of support. Her physiotherapists were also very encouraging. “Every step of the way, they monitored my progress and constantly reminded me about how much closer I was to returning to the sport I love,” she says.
Her transformative rehabilitation experience did not just return her to a life of sport, it also cemented her future career – to become a physiotherapist. She now sees the vocation beyond its medical scope of making a diagnosis and implementing a treatment – it is also one that ignites hope in patients.
“My life philosophy is ‘You rise by lifting others’, so the job of a physiotherapist is aligned with my personal values. I find great joy in being able to impact others through my work within the community,” she says.
Putting knowledge into practice
After her A levels in 2019, Ms Ng applied for and received MOH Holdings’ Community Care Scholarship, awarded by MOH Holdings Pte Ltd. The following year, she enrolled in the Singapore Institute of Technology’s (SIT) Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Physiotherapy programme.
Now a first-year student, Ms Ng likes that SIT’s programme provides more than just theoretical knowledge, it also focuses on the practical aspects. “Our professors make learning a delight as they are dedicated to imparting their knowledge and experience. I am looking forward to my clinicals in Year 3, when I’ll be able to put my knowledge into actual practice more,” Ms Ng says.
Beyond engagement activities, the Community Care Scholarship programme also supplements scholarship recipients with additional resources such as dialect classes to help them better their skills in areas such as communication. It also offers community involvement programmes for them to give back to the community.
When international borders reopen, Ms Ng intends to tap the Scholars Development Fund to attend overseas seminars and exchange programmes to learn from fellow international allied health professionals (AHPs).
Post-graduation, Ms Ng looks forward to joining social service agency AWWA. There, she will be mentored by an experienced senior physiotherapist, before she attains a professional licence to practise as a physiotherapist.
In the years to come, Ms Ng hopes to pursue a master’s degree to deepen her physiotherapy knowledge. In the longer term, she aspires to gain experience in a wider range of care settings (covering home-, residential- and centre-based care) within AWWA, as well as the wider community care and public healthcare sector.
She says: “While it will be challenging, I believe the exposure will be crucial in developing my critical thinking and ability to customise treatments, hence facilitating clients’ journey towards recovery.”
Visit www.healthcarescholarships.sg/scholarships/undergraduate/community-care-scholarship for more information.