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More than just a job

After completing his diploma in Diagnostic Radiography at Nanyang Polytechnic, Mr Qiu Dejian, 25, worked as a radiographer at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

Radiographers at SGH with basic radiography diploma qualifications are encouraged to pursue a degree to enrich their knowledge and enhance their career opportunities.

This was in line with Mr Qiu’s desire to further his studies.

As his parents were nearing retirement, he did not want to impose on them to fund his studies, so he needed a scholarship to fulfil his university dreams. He landed the Healthcare Merit Scholarship from MOH Holdings to study at Monash University for a Bachelor of Radiography and Medical Imaging.

MOH Holdings is the holding company for Singapore’s public healthcare clusters.

Graduating in December last year with first class honours, Mr Qiu believes his study experience in Australia is invaluable to his professional and personal development.

Even as an undergraduate, Mr Qiu published an academic paper on computed tomography (CT) in a radiology journal.

Since his degree required students to put theory into practice through clinical placements, Mr Qiu worked at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Melbourne for five months. He previously worked in two hospitals in Britain for a month during his diploma studies.

“It is important to observe and learn about the radiography practices in other countries, to see where Singapore fares on a global level and how we can continue to improve in our field,” he says.

Caring for patients

Diagnostic radiographers work with highly advanced medical imaging equipment, using a wide range of positioning techniques and precise technical settings to produce high-quality radio-graphic images of the body.

Such imaging includes CT, X-rays, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging.

“Images produced need to be of good quality, as they are instrumental in helping doctors provide an accurate diagnosis of the patient,” explains Mr Qiu.

While most images are taken in procedure rooms, Mr Qiu has worked on more complex cases requiring images to be taken in the ward.

Once, he had to perform a chest X-ray on a lady suffering from severe burns, and had to be careful not to touch or move her much because of her injuries. With the help of the ward’s nurses, doctors and his colleagues, he managed to acquire the image.

The ability to work in teams is critical in providing the best care for patients. So is the ability to communicate effectively and empathetically.

“Radiographers need to be understanding and sensitive to the challenges that our patients face, because many are not in the best of health when they arrive at our department for their procedures,” says Mr Qiu.

“We also need to ensure that patients are safe during the procedure and keep them from being unnecessarily exposed to radiation.”

Conducive environment

While the scholarship comes with a bond, Mr Qiu does not mind as he is certain he wants to remain in diagnostic radiography for a long time.

At SGH, junior radiographers hone their skills with the guidance of more experienced radiographers. After a year, they can specialise in an imaging modality.

They are also rotated to the imaging centres in the inpatient, outpatient and emergency departments at the hospital so they will be exposed to different patient conditions and learn to perform radiographic procedures in all clinical settings.

For those considering applying for healthcare scholarships or working in the healthcare sector, Mr Qiu suggests that they speak with professionals in the sector to understand the demands of the work.

Reflecting on his experience, he says: “I am glad to be making a positive impact on the lives of the patients I serve within a wonderful working environment.”

“I love how my job is not just a means to earn a living, but also a way to help improve the lives of others.

“My job allows me to meet people of all ages and from all walks of life, and it makes my day when patients are thankful for the services we provide.”