Ministry of Health: Realising Aspirations, Touching Lives
With a common affinity for healthcare, Imran Qamar, Siti Ismail and Cheryl Tsai are fulfilling their professional ambitions at the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Growing up, Imran Qamar, a Health Policy Analyst under the Systems Governance and Planning division at MOH, learnt about the nature of work in the healthcare sector, mainly from his mother who has been a nurse for more than 30 years.
Meeting social needs
Qamar said his role involves analysing policies at the overall systems level, and that his team has been working on the Hospital to Home programme, an initiative aimed at preventing repeat admission for patients at risk of such a situation.
Explaining that this brings healthcare out of the hospital and into the community, Qamar said, “We support clusters, such as SingHealth, the National Healthcare Group and National University Health System, providing funding support to the transitional care teams. Ensuring that patients are well cared for in their home environments is important. In this way, they don’t have to keep coming back to the hospitals.”
According to Chan Wei Ling, Director of Corporate Human Resource Division, MOH bears a social mission. She said, “The work here allows our employees to be part of the healthcare transformation that we are working towards and enables them to be exposed to the healthcare network that’s growing.”
Siti Ismail, a Health Policy Analyst within the Sector Development and Commissioning division, was determined to carve a career in healthcare ever since her junior college days. Pursuing a degree in Economics after an unsuccessful application in the medical field, she actively took up courses on health economics in university.
Her team engages and collaborates with players in private healthcare. She said, “One of the collaborations we’ve worked on is the Emergency Care collaboration, where the Singapore Civil Defence Force ambulances can send eligible patients to Raffles Hospital, a private hospital. Such collaborations help improve the accessibility of subsidised care for patients who require immediate emergency care.”
Holistic career development
Other than letting employees play a part in improving the overall healthcare landscape in Singapore, MOH is also flexible in accommodating to different career aspirations that employees may have within the sector.
Officers undergo a comprehensive year-long onboarding programme and can look forward to rotations, which typically take place after three to four years of service, Chan said.
Tsai made a “huge transition” from clinical work as a pharmacist, to her current role as Assistant Manager in the Clinical Quality, Performance and Technology division.
When she was undergoing pharmacist training at the Singapore General Hospital, she was inspired to serve in a capacity beyond that of patient care. In her present position with MOH, Tsai deals with data and analytics to drive appropriate utilisation of drugs and devices.
The learning curve was steep for her as she did not have a background in data analytics. However, she had the support of her co-workers and managers to get through the challenge.
“There is a myriad of training programmes available and bosses here are very supportive of our development. They are always very keen to guide you along the way,” Tsai said.
Chan said graduates entering MOH have a nurturing and conducive environment to learn the ropes, as supervisors in this ministry are committed to coaching and guiding new officers. She made it a point to personally meet all new hires within their first two months to make sure that they are settling in well.
Making an impact
Managing deadlines and maintaining work-life balance are some examples of challenges a fresh graduate joining MOH may face, according to Qamar.
Tsai said, “You really learn to plan your work much in advance and find out how to pace yourself. It teaches you to be disciplined. The good thing is, as we all shared, the environment is very conducive and open so you don’t have to be afraid to tell your reporting officers and they’ll help.”
As Qamar’s team prepared for the opening of the Sengkang General Hospital, he faced a heavy workload during crunch time and remained highly motivated, knowing the difference he was able to make.
“I’ve been involved in the project for quite a while, and it’s been a very interesting experience. I live in Sengkang as well. As I walk past the hospital, I realise how many people’s lives I’m touching with the work that I’m doing. It makes it all worthwhile,” he said.
“Do consider a career at MOH if you want to make big, systems-level changes – changes that can touch the lives of many people.”