A conversation at a scholarship fair during her secondary school days sparked Ms Vanessa Ng’s (left) interest in the prosthetics field.
That was when she met Mr Trevor Binedell, who is currently the assistant head of Prosthetics and Orthotics Service, and principal prosthetist/orthotist at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
After answering Ms Ng’s queries about the profession, Mr Binedell invited her to attend a three-day job shadowing stint.
The experience cemented her decision to pursue a career in the field. The 25-year-old allied health professional now works in the Prosthetics and Orthotics Service at TTSH.
Prosthetics refers to the provision of artificial limbs to replace missing ones, while in orthotics, external devices are given to support, correct or accommodate dysfunctional limbs.
As prosthetics and orthotics is a specialised course that is not offered in Singapore, Ms Ng had to head overseas to further her studies.
On a TTSH Health Science Scholarship Award — now known as the Healthcare Merit Award — she commenced a three-year Bachelor of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom in 2012. Ms Ng says the scholarship was instrumental in allowing her to head overseas.
The financial support that it provided included tuition fees, one return economy airfare, a monthly allowance and approved expenses.
It enabled her to focus fully on her studies, instead of having to worry about her finances.
All Healthcare Scholarships are centrally awarded and managed by MOH Holdings (MOHH) on behalf of Singapore’s public healthcare sector.
On a typical day, Ms Ng meets patients for scheduled appointments at TTSH’s outpatient clinic.
If a patient requires prosthetics or orthotics devices, she casts and takes down his body measurements. She will also fit and review such devices.
Her department works with a team of technicians that manufactures devices and fixes technical issues.
She also collaborates with other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists.
Ms Ng says being able to help patients become more mobile and improve their quality of life is a privilege.
A prosthetist or orthotist needs to possess patient-centred and hands-on skills to create the right devices to meet patients’ needs.
She shares: “The scholarship connected me with my current workplace. TTSH has a specialised prosthetics and orthotics clinic, and workshop.
“It gave me the assurance that I would be able to become a clinician in an established centre with experienced clinicians and a solid clinical setup after I completed my studies.”
A particularly memorable experience for Ms Ng was when she witnessed a patient taking his first steps using the first prosthetic limb that she had ever designed and fitted.
She recalls: “It was such a satisfying and moving moment when I saw him walk.
“Having accompanied the patient on his road to recovery, I saw how my work helped him to regain some everyday normalcy. It made me forget the challenges I encountered during the process, and it continues to motivate me in my job.”
Prosthetics refers to the provision
of artificial limbs to replace missing
ones, while in orthotics, external
devices are given to support, correct
or accommodate dysfunctional