Healthcare Outreach Project 2016

Yesterday summed up the Healthcare Outreach Project 2016!

Just a brief introduction, the Healthcare Outreach Project 2016, or HOP2016, is a student-initiated project to help students from both JC and Polytechnics alike to gain information they need to make an informed decision about their future healthcare career choices. This year, I am really glad to be able to be part of the HOP2016 Manpower committee and helped ensure that the event runs smoothly.

Basically, my role is to invite student and professional speakers over, liaise with them on the topics and be in charged of the post-event clinical attachments. Despite having these small roles in HOP2016, I have definitely learned a lot from this event.

1. Adapting to situations

There was this one incident where we were supposed to have a meeting at a certain time. Knowing that I am always early coupled with that quiet personality of mine, things might get into an awkward silence. As such, I would try to reach on time or appear when there are more familiar faces around. However, no matter how much delay I try to incorporate into my planning, I would never fail to reach early.

And honestly, I hate being always early and having to wait for people. It is extremely frustrating and I remembered waiting for 25 minutes for my group of friends and got so pissed and regretted wasting my 25 minutes there not being productive. 

I ended up being early, and the awkwardness ensued. The classical symptoms of me trying to isolate myself socially can be spotted by one without a need for an astute eye. In that period of intense tension, which lasted for 15 minutes, I was dying internally.

From then on, I have learned from this situation and adapt my timings based on the baseline data I gathered from meeting my friends. Next time, I would arrive 15 minutes later from the stipulated timing should I visit my Group A friends, and probably 30 minutes for Group B.

This is an important skill to learn, and it helps me to prevent unnecessary time wastage.

For those who are reading this, punctuality is a virtue and it says a lot about how much the people value your interaction and time out. Next time, do not be late, otherwise, make adjustments as needed.

2. Using logic and move on

Generally, I have seen people attempting to do the same thing over and over again even though things do not seem to work. Personally, I have experienced this for myself at first hand during the intubation simulation.

Without reading off from the instruction manual, I picked up the laryngoscope and force the hard palate of the mannequin down. That was when I stumbled across a conflict, do I compress down the uvula as well? I tried multiple times to compress them down to reveal the glottis, where the intubation tube will go in. But I simply cannot see.

For those who have no idea, intubation is a process in which a tube is inserted into the trachea via the mouth to keep your airways open. This usually is indicated for people who do not have the ability to breathe such as those with facial trauma, or compressed trachea.

Back to the story. Shortly after, I stopped and took a step away from the mannequin, trying to figure out what was wrong. That was when I saw the instruction booklet lying on top of the bed from the corner of my eyes (actually, it doesn’t make sense if you understand how vision works. What you see from the corner of your eyes is in front of your nose). I saw that the laryngoscope is supposed to hold back your tongue.

When I discovered my mistake, I wanted to try. However, the lab technician came over and showed us the right technique.

One lesson I picked up from this incident is that if you constantly try a method which doesn’t work after a few attempts. Stop and look for another approach. If it doesn’t work, no point trying to repeat the steps to prove yourself wrong that the method administered was correct.

The same thing happened just now when I was trying to locate for the participant’s details in the exhaustive list of names. No matter how much I tried to vary my search for this student’s name, I could not find it. That was when I discovered that the student could have signed up on the spot and that her information is not on the list at all.

3. Healthcare professions


Among the four speakers I have invited for the sharing, two of them mentioned this quote. I definitely agree with this quote a lot and this is one of the quotes that pushed me towards healthcare.

The speaker from Medicine, Prof Low, spoke that “Healthcare is not for everybody. You have to be a people person.”

This was supported by Ms Chng, the representative from Nursing.

Essentially, healthcare career is not for everybody. People have their own comfort zones, have their own characteristics and personality. However, in order to be best suited for healthcare, one must be able to empathize with people and know how to connect to them. These group of people will last very long in their healthcare careers.

However, doesn’t mean that an introvert or someone with poor communication skills cannot join the healthcare sector. People change, personality can be transformed. If healthcare is really for you, regardless of your personality, you would be able to pull through. I understand this statement is contradicting, but just because you don’t fit into the list of “qualities”, doesn’t mean you’re not suited!

So if your passion lies in this field, go for it. Much like how I still strive to get into Medicine despite the 3-year battle with 14 rejection.

If you really know what you want, go for it. Never let others be a barrier to you.

This is one quote I set in my reminder that I constantly see. By sharing with you this quote, I hope that you will let this quote support you on what you have set your mind into.


4. Healthcare has a lot of logic, but it involves aspects of humanity

Speaking of logic, I believed my logic is pretty much flawed. But logic is essentially an umbrella term to describe the different types of thinking processes that encompass the brain’s ability to work – be it with words, numbers or patterns. For me, my verbal reasoning is one of the worst, but neither are my other areas of reasoning.

Nonetheless, when I get the logic, my eyes would sparkle and the light bulb inside my head goes “blinggg…”!

Back at the simulation room for the auscultation of heart sounds, I was given an opportunity to listen to sounds from various cardiac pathologies. Sounds ranging from what you’ll expect to hear from a normal beating heart to heart murmurs, to stenosis of the aortic valve, these heart sounds completes the circuit of the light bulb hovering in my brain!

Well, let me explain with an example. Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic semilunar valves becomes harden and cannot close properly. When the stethoscope is placed in the 2nd intercoastal space, laterally to the right of the sternum (number 1 in the diagram), you will be able to hear a whooshing sound (sound of blood flowing) during contraction and relaxation but not at the other auscultatory sites.


This is the logic part of science.

And I am extremely fascinated by the heart sounds (don’t ask me why, but I am).

However, in healthcare, things are not purely about the application of theory into practical. That is a small aspect of healthcare. The rest is about the art.

The art of healthcare stems from not just being able to feel, to communicate, but also to build rapport. These are things that textbook doesn’t teach you and this is the basis for many healthcare roles.

Without the art, I would have forced food down my patient’s throat rather than to slowly talk to them and build rapport before I seek for permission to feed.

Without the human touch, doctors would administer multiple test and scans on you and sending you back home despite you having a life-threatening condition that does not show up in normal blood test.

Can you imagine how scary this field will be?

5. Running event with a smaller committee

Post-event closure was the time where I discovered that the project director and vice project director decided to cut down the number of committee members to recruit. Indeed, I am surprised by their decision, but am glad for that because it definitely helps me establish the team camaraderie easier (even though I opened up nearing towards the end). I am also in another committee in-charge of another event, but that committee is 3-4 times bigger than what HOP has! Still, I am not very comfortable with the people in the committee, and I think this is one major barrier for good progression of events.

Too many cooks spoil the soup, and the lack of bonding with the committee members definitely hindered the progress (I felt) of the planning for the events. Credit this to poor communication, or poor foresight, but I really believe the committee head should have done something to bond the group over. Otherwise, the same silence is going to hang around the meetings ever since we were first selected.

6. Satisfaction

As a roamer during the events, I get to travel around to see what was happening at the various station. It was during my roaming session did I discovered one of the simulations (insertion of nasogastric tube) was only done by one station master. She was my classmate, and she did mention it was stressful the day before when she had another company. That was when I decided to drop by and help her with one session.

Even though I did not impart a lot of information relevant to the NGT, I provided them more insights to nursing and eventually, when the group breaks out to explore the other stuffs, one of them approached me and asked questions. Particularly, about me getting into medicine as a nursing student.

Prior that, this group I taught was the exact same group that I spoke to about “choosing the right choice in the healthcare profession.” I did warn them that passion is needed to last long and far in the field and I do hope that my sharing about the nursing field helped them gain a better understanding of the roles.


To be able to impact them and see them clarifying really helps me to see the extent of their interest and how much thoughts they are putting into their career choices. Happiness definitely swarmed over me, but not as much as what I received from one of the facilitators.


On my way home after the closure session, I received a Whatsapp message from one of the facilitators, who happens to be in my course.

Receiving this from her is totally unexpected because I told her I wanted to do Medicine (for some reason, the conversation deviated to this direction) and how much I really wanted to go despite all the rejections. Not only was she very encouraging, she said she would support me in my journey! Honestly, that was one of the heartwarming things I’ve ever heard from people – that they will support me in my journey no matter what happens.

Then, I had this random conversation with my Project Director which started with me asking her about the interviews. Even though she was sworn to secrecy, she gave me a rough idea about how interview format is like and how to best prepare for them. Following that, she asked me why not nursing? Why not an advanced practice nurse? I guess I am kind of used to people exploring reasons why I don’t venture into nursing. I think this is good because it helps me clear up my thoughts even more, and affirmed my decisions to get into medicine, to become the doctor I always wanted to be.

Despite that, she said I really had the qualities of a good doctor and I will get in with my transfer application next year.

These are really encouraging to hear, but I have to still hold back. Nothing is confirmed yet, and there is not point celebrating over people’s support. I guess now I have to wait for 4 more months before the outcomes are released.

7. Opening up to others

Wow, this is one of the longer blog post I have ever written and a great deal of reflection too! However, it is important that I share and list them down in case my demented mind lose track of what I gained from my experiences.

Opening up to others is an extremely essential skill to get others open up to you. If you hold back, there is no way you are going to have someone sharing their stuff with you. Opening up is a lot easier when you have a role because people generally expected that. And it removes any non-physical barrier that can stymie interactions. Then again, after being through all these, I discovered that the only barrier that stops conversation from happening is the fear of awkwardness.

It is not easy to overcome that, even I am still learning how to do so, but this HOP experience had lifted a huge part of the fear I had in interacting with people. Hopefully, I am more confident and open to others now.

8. Looking from another perspective

Then again, I was wondering how come the students were so fearful of asking questions and opening up to others.

I discovered that the secret to open them up to for you to share your own personal experiences, be it funny or embarrassing, to break the ice standing between you and the students.

However, as a student myself who went to the DukeNUS open house the day before HOP2016 commence, I was touring around the school, watching how intubation works. I realized this presence of fear that was lingering around. This totally killed the atmosphere for fun and joy and halted me in my tracks of asking questions. If given a chance, I would have asked more questions back then.

Standing from the 3rd perspective, communication and interaction between both parties come from forces exerted by the two groups. The sharer must be able to, or at least try to, break the ice while the students (or interact-ees in general) must be receptive to be open.

Next time I face these situations, I would be more equipped to deal with them better.


HOP2016 was a success and it gave me a lot of opportunities to learn and grow as an individual.

yangyew-0831And I really did not regret signing up for this, this was an awesome experience.