Losing her mother to ovarian cancer made Tang Shu Hua decide to make a mid-career switch and study Diagnostic Radiography. Still, the road wasn’t easy. Fuelled by her passion to make a difference in patients’ lives, she overcame the odds and achieved stellar results reading Singapore’s only Diagnostic Radiography undergraduate programme.
Tang Shu Hua graduated from Singapore’s only Diagnostic Radiography undergraduate programme.
Having worked at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) as a Checkpoint Officer for almost 10 years, Tang Shu Hua, 37, often wondered what else was in store for her career. She longed to do something that would make a difference to the lives of others. In 2016, Shu Hua suffered an immense setback, one that navigated her to change her career path.
“I lost my mother to ovarian cancer that year. It made me reflect, and I seriously thought about making a switch to a profession in healthcare. During my visits to the hospital, I came across and interacted with many medical and allied health professionals, who I am very grateful to for caring for my mother. They were very nice, and the work they did seemed very noble and inspiring,” recalled Shu Hua, who graduated from SIT’s Diagnostic Radiography degree programme in October 2021.
Shu Hua chanced upon the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) under Workforce Singapore (WSG) that caters to those who want a mid-career switch. At that time, SIT offered three allied health degree programmes under the PCP – Diagnostic Radiography, Occupational Therapy, and Physiotherapy. “Out of these three programmes, Diagnostic Radiography interested me the most. After some consideration and with the support and encouragement from my family, I decided to apply for the programme through the PCP,” said Shu Hua.
Getting into the Diagnostic Radiography programme was one thing, but getting through it was another. Shu Hua found the transition back to school difficult after 10 years away from the books. “As a mature student in my 30s, I found it challenging to re-adapt to school life and learn new things,” shared Shu Hua. The physical toll that came with the clinical placements was another challenge.
Clinical Placements Tough but Beneficial
While it was tough, Shu Hua admits she would not trade the fruitful experience she had during her clinical placements for anything. “We were given ample hands-on opportunities to apply the theories we learnt. And, we gained maximum practical exposure through the clinical attachments at different healthcare providers. I strongly feel that the Clinical Practice Education (CPE) has better prepared me to be an effective healthcare professional upon graduation.”
One of her memorable moments was when she and fellow Allied Health students recited a pledge to honour their silent mentors during the silent mentor ceremony. She said, “It was truly a fascinating and meaningful experience for me. I am extremely touched by the selflessness of our silent mentors.”
Another experience she treasures was the Overseas Exchange Programme (OEP) to the International University of Health and Welfare (IUHW) in Japan in 2019. “Through the visit to IHUW, I gained a deeper insight into the healthcare system in Japan.”
Tang Shu Hua (left) with fellow students from the Diagnostic Radiography and Radiation Therapy programmes during their Overseas Exchange Programme (OEP) in Japan.
Resilience – Key to Success
Despite the adversities that Shu Hua faced during her academic journey, she achieved stellar results and garnered positive feedback from her supervisors during her CPE. She has since assumed her role as a Diagnostic Radiographer at her sponsoring organisation, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, from July 2021. Her duties include performing clinical radiography in general radiography, and seeing to surgical and portable radiography equipment.
Shu Hua knows the rigours of a healthcare professional’s job, but is confident that her desire to do her best for her patients will see her through. “I want to use my knowledge and skills in diagnostic radiography to help those in need,” said Shu Hua. “And I aim to be a competent and responsible radiographer who genuinely cares about patients and seeks to provide the best possible care for them.”
Lifelong Friendships Forged in the Crucible
Shu Hua (left, back row) made lifelong friends in her degree programme, whom she credits for her success.
Beyond the fulfilment from her newfound profession, Shu Hua gained lifelong friendships during her course of study at SIT. She credits her course mates for her success in the programme. “Without them,” she recalled, “it would not have been easy to overcome my anxiety and stress over examinations and the course would not have been as enjoyable!”