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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Overall,

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.

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50-day writing challenge

It has been 2 years since I last updated my “L’s profile” page and I think it is time to do it, especially when my group of friends copied and pasted this whole list of questions to be shared around.

I guess life is a never-ending cycle of learning and reflection! Looking back at my “30-day writing challenge”, my old Twitter account, the ugly Facebook statuses I wrote I hope nobody would dig up and my old reflection post made me realized how much I have grown, and how imbecile and an irritating brat I was previously. I was shocked by how much I have changed, and maybe started judging my younger self. Nonetheless, it is always good to reflect and the best indicator? Definitely through these thought-provoking questions!

You guys can try them out since the questions are all list here. I highly recommend you to try it because it is worth it. Someday, you might stumble back at this post and reread what you’ve written for the past few months, or even years, and you’ll be surprised by how much change (positively or negatively) you underwent.

Maybe even serve as a reminder to pull you out from the depths of a horror abyss you accidentally fell into.

Without further ado, let us start!

1. What’s one thing that’s happened to you that has made you a stronger person?

2. What’s one thing that’s happened to you in your life that made you feel weak?

3. Where is one place you feel most like yourself?

4. Where is your favorite place to escape to?

5. Who do you think has had the largest influence on the person you are today?

6. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

7. If you had one day left to live, what would you do first?

8. What decade do you feel you most belong in?

9. Who are you closest to in your family? Why?

10. Who is the one person in this world that knows you best?

11. What is your favorite quality about your best friend?

12. When you were younger what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

13. If you could identify with one fictional character (from a book, show, or movie) who would it be?

14. Do you easily accept compliments? Or do you hate compliments?

15. Is your favorite attribute about yourself physical or non-physical?

16. What is your favorite physical attribute about yourself?

17. What is your favorite non-physical attribute about yourself?

18. Do you believe in love at first sight?

19. Do you believe in soul mates?

20. How seriously do you take horoscopes?

21. Have you ever been in love? How many times?

22. What makes you fall in love with someone?

23. What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?

24. What’s one thing you’re scared to ask a man, but really want to?

25. If you were a man for a day, what would be the first thing you do?

26. What do you find most attractive about each sex?

27. What’s one thing you’d love to learn more about?

28. What is something you’ve never done that you’ve always wanted to do?

29. Why haven’t you done it yet?

30. If money didn’t matter, what would your dream job be?

31. If you had off from work today, what would you do?

32. What was the last thing that made you cry?

33. What was the last thing that made you laugh?

34. What is your favorite memory?

35. What’s the last thing that REALLY embarrassed you?

36. What is your biggest fear?

37. Do you have any regrets? What’s your biggest one?

38. Have you ever broken a law? If you haven’t what is one law you’d love to break?

39. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

40. Would you have a conversation with a stranger?

41. Would you tell a stranger they have toilet paper hanging from their shoe? Or their dress tucked into their underwear? (Or anything else that is embarrassing to be seen in public)?

42. What’s your favorite joke?

43. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

44. If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?

45. What’s one show, movie, or book, you’re embarrassed to admit you enjoy?

46. How do you think your parents would describe you as a child?

47. If you could go back to any age or time of your life, what age or time would it be?

48. What’s something you believe in that not everyone else does?

49. What’s one thing you would say that makes you unique from other people?

50. What is one thing you feel your life is missing?

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Clinical Attachment – Community Hospital

I dreaded this 2 week period of attachment in the community hospital – as a nurse. Being a nurse was not part of my detailed plan of becoming a physician in the future. That was why I hated wearing the neatly pressed white uniform and walk around the hospital, sending a subconscious message that I was a nurse.

I do not despise the role of nurses, but I can never see myself being one for the long run. However, my perception of nursing changed quite a fair bit throughout my 2 weeks posting. Yes, I understand nursing more now, and I admire all those who decided to join this field, but I grew more determined to be part of the medical team of doctors. As much as doctors should be respected, I think nurses deserves more recognition and respect, especially after going through what nurses have been though.

My first day in attachment was more of orientation and briefings rather than the actual posting. Thinking back now, made me realized how quickly time flies.

My first shift started out in the afternoon and ends at night. During those times, I was quite scared and timid. For someone who gets thrown into a completely new environment, such feelings are inevitable. I was not as proactive as I am when comfort kicks in, so tension definitely arises and I am less participative of the happenings. My first shift was basically trying to understand what was basically going around and learn the basic skills. As we have certain objectives to achieve, my buddy and I had to plan out which skills we need to satisfy before we break off for the first week.

On the first day, I did not do much except getting to know my patients.

One of the first patients I met was an elderly man who had dementia. He was not agnostic or had aphasia and had a good command of English. Despite his poorer hearing abilities, he was able to communicate well. I really liked him a lot because of his cheerfulness and his smile is really contagious.

The second patient I met was one that had glioblastoma (a type of brain tumor) as well as an intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) due to a fall. He was not responsive and always seems to be very tired. Occasionally, he would talk about things people don’t understand. However, when I was caring for him, I noticed that he had this habit of inserting his fingers up his rectum, pulling stools out.

After cleaning the mess and him up, we applied mittens on his hand to prevent that from happening again. Then again, he would try all means to untie the mittens and insert his hands to pull out the stools.

Initially, I do not understand why he was doing that, and that putting mittens on him was not solving the issue. However, a few days of observation and analysis, he had compacted stools that gave him a lot of discomforts which he cannot verbalize. Only after given laxatives to help soften his stool and increase motility did he stop pulling out stools from his rectum.

This incident became another reason why I wanted to do medicine. This patient taught me how things always happen for a reason. Even though we encountered a bizarre behavior, we did not provide interventions to help solve his root problem. What we did was to prevent the patient from self-intervening. Also, as nurses, providing non-pharmacological comfort and care is what we can do to relieve symptoms. However, symptom-relieving is not sufficient. This is why I wanted to be a doctor. To be a doctor so that I would be able to collect pieces of information and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle to identify root problems and tackle them instead of relieving symptoms which play absolutely no change to removing the malady.

Another patient I met had a 4 piece transverse intertrochanteric fracture of the femur due to age-associated osteoporosis. He is a very nice guy and shares a lot of information about his life with me. Sometimes, when he is bored, I would entertain him and learn a bit more about his history. Sadly, I was working on the PM shift when he was discharged so I could not get to say my final goodbye.

One more patient who had impacted me a lot was this uncle with COPD. He was on oxygen therapy and he is a very mischievous patient. As much as he tries to ”disturb” us for fun and laughter, he would always teach us a thing or two and constantly engage us.

In fact, the final two patients mentioned above have this trait which I do hope to see in many of my patients to come – they look after the safety of other patients as well. For those patients on high fall risk, they will notify us that these group of patients are going to the toilet and made sure we supervise them. This is the kind of kinship that you don’t really see elsewhere.

These patients have been wonderful to me and they provided a lot of learning experiences. From the execution of skills to perfecting the art of communication. I will never forget how they allowed us to perform certain procedures because we needed to practice them. I would really miss them a lot and do hope that they recover, while I fight my battle into medicine.

Besides the patients, the nurses in the ward have been super accommodating and nice (Except for one or two who were extremely rude [I understand they are busy, but isn’t there a nicer way to inform us rather than to brush us of like that]). They gave us plenty of opportunities to try out skills we have not performed before to clear objectives stipulated by the school.

Also, without my awesome classmates that are in this together with me, I am sure my experience here would not be as fantastic as it would be now.

Besides the people around me, I have learned a lot about myself (and also thanks to the thoughtCatalog article and an Instagram post by one of my friends).

It all started out with me doing a procedure and then having comments being thrown at me for questioning my techniques. Instead of going together with the flow, I protected myself and justify my actions. This incident happened a few times and I did not give much thought about it until I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw this.

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I used to be an extremely agreeable person, probably a deeper level of me wanted acceptance by going with the flow. I knew I had this problem of not being opinionated enough and I wanted to do something about it. I tried, I failed and never give up. I am still facing the same problem, but I think I am trying my best to over this shortcoming. Improvements definitely can be seen, but more still needs to be done. Nonetheless, I am sharing this to you readers to convey the deeper message behind this paragraph of epiphany.

Essentially, everybody is different and we have characteristics that others do not like. And that is okay. You do not need to shape the way you behave, talk, and interact, to fit into the society to gain acceptance. Gaining acceptance is not important, and ironically, it is a hindrance to the development of your character, the development of the authentic you.

When you go with the flow too much, you tend to lose a sense of self and eventually, your identity would be lost.

This really made me ponder over a lot of things about how I should be more confident of my own personality and embrace my own flaws. Nobody is perfect and that is what make us unique. No point trying to make others happy if happiness does not start from you.

However, I came across this article on thoughtCatalog:

10 Things You Don’t Realize People Are Doing Because They’re Ridiculously Insecure

I guess I still have certain aspects of insecurity being displayed by how I justify my actions, which I really need to work on. This is a really interesting article (and a short one) that I recommend you to read.

Despite having a short 2 weeks attachment, I really enjoyed myself a lot over here. I do hope that this experience will help me with my future experiences as a doctor, and as a person.

I shall conclude here with photos of us on the last day!

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Before we left, one of them suggested to make a Christmas tree out of Kisses chocolate! And this is the end product!

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A selfie with the same shift of friends who we grew closer to each day!

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Here’s a sneak preview of a photo I will be uploading to Instagram! Look at how cute the snowmen are!

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And lastly, here’s to the best group!

My time in the Army

People say you will grow the most…

Nah, enough deep quotes.

If I were to sum it up, the biggest takeaway in this journey down being in the military for 2 years has made me discover myself. The journey of self-discovery does not come easy, nor is it something that I would like to venture again into. But, that will be what most people say when they look back into the distance past.

The Junior Phase

Since BMT, the first phase of my military life, I have learned that I was indeed a planner, someone who was also responsible and definitely one hell of an optimist. Other words to describe me includes “motherly”, “nice” and “fun”which my BMT mates often said when I was the appointed platoon IC. I will never forget the journal entries I had written or the comments my Platoon Sergeant and Commander gave me. Probably the entries became a window that allowed my Platoon Commander to have a snippet of my potential and recommended me to OCS, where my 2nd part of my journey began.

Entering BMT is like getting your first job at the supermarket. You have no apprehension of the system already in place, and you find no one comfortable for you to approach. However, this is the best time you force yourself to grow out of your protected shell and be more courageous. And I think I did.

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The Intermediate Phase

The next phase brings me into a greater journey of doors I have never seen before. Some say when a door closes, the other doors open. This phase of my life shown me otherwise. The doors are just there for you to open. So reach out your hand and open it. OCS had three terms which bestow us with different skills and knowledge. But one thing in common is that my leadership skills have sharpened tremendously. I have learnt what it takes to be a leader – insomnia arising from the tendrils of responsibility that clutter your mind each time you sleep, taking ownership of the decisions and bearing the consequences. I will never forget the day as a cadet wing sergeant major (CWSM) during my service term.

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My team took over during the worst period in which the mess from the previous committee was left untouched. We had to work through day and night to set things right. I remembered this once where I had to run everywhere coordinating instructions and people to balance out the workload for the graduation ceremony. Speaking of bearing responsibilities in the aforementioned paragraph, I will never forget the decision I made and the implications. We had this massive event and lunch was indented. After the speech by the emcee, all of us were cordially invited for lunch. However, the queue for the lunch was estimated (by me and several others) to  be an hour and putting things into a larger context, our book out would be pushed back 2 hours later. Instead, I negotiated with the instructor to skip lunch and expedite the booking out process so we could get back early and eat lunch. He agreed, and members of my wing agreed. Just when we thought things were going well, my wing commander stood tall, obstaclizing the path back home. A causal question from him: “Did you guys have lunch?” soon turned out to be disastrous. I had to go back to the cookhouse to see if there was food left and the wing’s book out was pushed back slightly later. Oh well, I had to apologize to the wing eventually for the delay and the wrong decision but, everyone was cool with it and the majority supported my decision.

Throughout these 9 months of training as a cadet, I have discovered my flaws as well. I am someone who cannot function well without sleep, or if I have to, I cannot function the moment inactivity kicks in. Also, making decisions in a time-restricted environment is not my forte as well. Of course, my enthusiasm, my passion, and concern for my fellow mates shadowed the flaws.

But one very important lesson from OCS was that things will never always go in your way. Take my JCC for instance. I decided to vocate into Infantry because I wanted to experience JCC. But everything, every single effort, and time I placed in the trainings, went down to drain a few hours before JCC started because of one wrong slip.

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The encouragement from my friends are real and I really appreciate them so much! That gave me insights to how important support from others are!

The advanced term

Transiting to an Intelligence officer at 1SIR was the next best thing I could ever asked for. I had to go through the gruelling UIP where I sobbed and kept pushing myself. Despite UIP being something I dreaded, I think this is the time where my resiliency grew, where I kept myself going.

Subsequently, I got the opportunity to manage a branch of people which left some time back in March and lead a new team in January! People come and go, but the impact I left on them is something really amazing to discover!

Just before I left, I told YF to make a card for me (I know I sounded so much thick skin, but I do not want to regret knowing that I have nothing to reminisce on in the future!), but instead, he surprised me with a notebook!

From the note, I discovered even more traits about myself!

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My lame jokes are making the headlines, and how I make them cringe…

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And this I believed came from a fan of mine 😛 whom says my cuteness had impacted them…

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Looks like my cheerful and optimistic trait served the team well… 

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And always looking after them…

There were some surprising ones I did not expect from any one of them!

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How I earned the respect of people without even noticing…

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Or becoming a role model to them…

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And having my legacy build on!

Speaking of which, when I first started out in the branch, I told myself to leave a legacy behind! And seeing how my new DyS2 takes over me with that message, it goes to show that today is the day I put a strike across item number 47 of my bucket list :D!

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Or people having the confidence that I will be a good doctor…

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The same goes to YF for that…

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Or being one of the most capable leaders people seen in their army… Honestly, there’s more people out there who are a lot more capable. Nonetheless, I appreciate that a lot though 🙂

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And this!

To be very frank, this quality was one I set to achieve some day while I was serving my tour in 1SIR. I realized I have been too much of a coward and hardly stand for what I believed in. I guess the MP incident taught me a huge lesson on standing up for what I think is right. And I should use this as a constant reminder to tell myself, always protect your principles.

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This definitely came in surprising because I didn’t knew he think so highly of me until today! Hahah…

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Roachy deserves to be here because the cockroach definitely made part of my life here more memorable…

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And another roachy…

One point I want to address in this is “biggest joke”. I have certainly never come across the thought that one day I will be the biggest joke. As hilarious as this may sound, I think it speaks a larger problem of the inability to be serious and making the right decisions. I guess its high time I start to ponder about me developing into someone who can “go all out when it’s time to have fun, and be serious in work”. Of course in addition to that, being someone who act as a role model or a leader (honestly, I quite enjoy leading), I think this will be the next phase of my life – to become a doctor with that personality!

Besides the letters my guys wrote to me, I have written letters for them on my side too!

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Photo montage of the cards I wrote!

All except the guy with a charming smile that Jo stirred some shit on previously. I kind of regretted it cause he wrote for me, and I did not write back. And the worse thing was that, he asked for it and I have thought about it before. I guess things happens for a reason and someday that reason will reveal itself.

For now, it’s time to focus on my UKCAT applications and transfer application in hopes to get into NUS Medicine (YLLSoM) or study undergraduate Medicine in the UK.

Peace out guys!

A reflection I should have done long earlier

To be honest, I was expecting a more extroverted me to be on display on the first day of my course. However, I stood out as a cold and aloof person, traits that would fit perfectly to describe the opposite of me. I remembered sitting right next to these group of cadets and remained silent. Despite their efforts to be warm and welcoming, I reacted antagonistically. Probably I was just shy, afraid of social interactions in which my introverted self would. Or I was simply scared to be in a foreign environment with no direct source of comfort – familiarity. But, one thing for sure was that being soaked in the rain made me smell like the rain – petrichor. Instead of being the pleasant smell, I believed any form of chemical reaction the rain has on my shirt generated a pungent scent. No doubt that deterred me from being my friendly persona. I would not want to make stomachs churn on the first day.

Subsequently, when my friend dropped by, I was elated and thankful. He definitely made my life there more comforting. His presence gave me the courage to open up a little bit more to the people whom I will be working with the next 5 weeks or so. During the first interaction session, both of us were teamed up together with another cadet. That cadet, J, was nice and friendly, and knowledgeable too. J further lightened up the atmosphere and any tension I felt back then. And after awhile, to be frank, I felt inferior. Having attending the course with the aim to top the course made other’s knowledge seen as competition. Of course, such negative and parasitic thought needed to be ousted out, and quickly, before things went out of control.  Luckily for me, I managed to reflect it out and realized an important lesson – I do not have to know everything to be the best. 

That was the first lesson I learnt and when that door closes, another opens.

During the second session when the whole team convened, we had some ice breakers. I think my sitting posture attributed to my reluctant-ness to be more confident. Sitting in a curled up position is bad for exhibiting alluring confidence. And I should make it a point to sit properly before making any self-introductions in the future.

As we progressed along, we needed people to take on certain roles. When the majority of the roles had been filled, I was still not tagged to any appointments. Being the only person, I think, left on the shelf without an appointment, the pressure exerted socially made me volunteer myself to be the Welfare IC – something I dreaded. Being welfare IC will really stretch my ability to be confident and more daring, especially when it comes to handling rejections and financial issues.

I guess this will be the time I learn how to break the social pressure and exert myself more.

The next segment of the ice breakers included listing several points in which we would like to have in building up the team’s camaraderie and relationship. At point 6, I wanted to say:” As a welfare IC, I think we should have ‘a fun and loving relationship’ “.

Guess what? Despite mentally rehearsing it, I backed off from saying it.

Was my introverted-ness dominating my thoughts and actions again? Or was something else the reason? What was it?

I guess this is the time I confronted my fears.

I believe, and strongly, that the reason why I did not do many things in life was that I am afraid of judgements. I mean, I say I do not care about them. But when it becomes a real life application, saying it meant a different story. Sometimes, it’s true, I ignored criticism. But, there were times were caustic remarks are hard to swallow.

Maybe this is the time I learn how to confront such deep fears.

To really say “fuck this, I’ve got this” and filter out the negativity.

After all, more people regret not doing something than people do regret doing something. I guess I will not be one of them, starting from today at the end of this blog post.

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My defining moment back in BMT

I was kind of bored and decided to google my name in hopes for a piece or two of news concerning me. Turns out, my reflection back in BMT stood out as the first link.

I have been in the army since June 2015. Can you believe how quickly 18 months flew by? Well, I have attached my BMT photo in here together with my reflection written back then. Hopefully the reflection I wrote back as a recruit will not be removed from the MINDEF’s webpage or be buried away in the essence of time.

Without further ado, here is a short reflection I wrote back in my BMT days.

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“I stumbled upon the fact that I was more inclined to ensure that the welfare of my men are taken care of, rather than to become the ever-demanding leader. This realisation only came when I reflected on my performance at the end of each day. Recalling the period of my appointment as Platoon In-charge, there was an occasion where one of my platoon mates came crashing down from the Chin-up Bar and started sobbing because he failed to achieve the minimum number of Chin-ups required to pass, during the IPPT Evaluation. His predicament made me feel very sad. As a leader, I knew I had to do something to restore his lost morale. If I did not care for him, who else would? At that point, I wanted to rush forward to comfort him but decided not to as he was already surrounded by other platoon mates, who were trying to calm him down and console him. It was only after the entire IPPT that I approached him to see how he was coping with his failure. We chatted a bit and he was so grateful for my concern he gave me a ‘High‘Five’ followed by a hug! This gesture of thanks-giving, albeit small, made me feel pleased and delighted. Seeing his emotional recovery gave me a great sense of satisfaction. From then on, I was sure that one of the main sources of motivation for me was to be able to help turn the frowns on people’s faces into smiles. Other than this, there were several other instances whereby I shared my snacks and ‘comfort food’ with my fellow platoon mates to cheer them up and relieve some pent-up frustrations. Delicious food never fails to put a smile on a person’s face. BMT has taught me that leading is not always about throwing out commands and expecting things to be done. In fact, being a leader requires a great deal of interpersonal skills in order to win the hearts and minds of men, such that regardless of the circumstances, they will be on your side.”

 

Movie Reflection: Ah boys to frogmen

Ah boys to men 3: frogmen is an amazing show that connects the army personnel as well as educating the public about the basics of what naval divers do. The movie first started off with the naval divers on a mission whereby several hostages were captured by an enemy ship. Following a series of command and control from the higher executives, the naval divers embarked on their mission to rescue the hostages. All the creeping around on alert, jostling and signaling abounded in the surreptitious mission in order to catch the enemies by surprise allowed me to connect instantly with the movie since that was what we cadets learn, but in a different context. Watching how the whole mission was conducted triggered my desire to take up the role of a platoon commander in a unit and lead the fight. Standing firm on my choices of becoming an OCS instructor, I decided that going to unit would supersede my first option. Because I believe training a new batch of instructors can have a rampant impact on the future generations of soldiers.

The scene paused when the last terrorist standing was thrown off the ship by an injured diver, accidentally setting off the explosives attached to the terrorist. And the first day of training in the naval diver school supplanted the screens. Like the classical ah boys to men BMT style, there were all sorts of people with varying characters, personalities and family background. One of the actor, Hei Long, had a poor relationship with his family members and a skirmish erupted prior the enlistment, right at the entrance of the camp. However, as the story moves along, Hei Long was slapped out of his flagrant and belligerent attitude by “Mr Know-it-all” and soon after, the cabin’s relationship with Hei Long improved tremendously. I never felt so sad before watching a jocular movie, but Hei Long’s realization really smack a lot of senses into my head. These are the things my future men might experience, or the mindset they might enlist with. However, it takes time and sometimes, a little courage to sort things out and make it right. I guess that’s one learning point.

In another scene, there was this trainee who threw tantrums during training and is constantly being distracted upon the abrupt ending of his relationship. During the tyre physical training, he threw down the gauntlet to his training warrant officer, insulting the training and doubting the trainer’s competency. The warrant officer accepted the challenge and won. This trainee was subsequently told to leave the course. Through a series of counselling by his cabin mates, he decided to apologize and expiate his mistake. He approached his instructor and the instructor decided to help him convince the warrant officer to repudiate his orders. Despite the rejection, the trainee was determined to stay and offered to run 50 rounds around the parade square. Like any typical movie, it rained halfway and the instructor accosted him to stop. However, the trainee’s determination touched the instructor and both of them ran together. I applaud for the instructor’s willingness to go an extra mile to provide encouragement and as a future officer, I will bear this in mind and earn the hearts of my men through my actions.

To lead we dare, to overcome we will, to excel we must. OCS!

In the same scene, I learned that instructors need to be as fit as, if not fitter, than majority of their men. Otherwise, it would be a disgrace to be unable to lead by example. For instance, if the warrant officer is unable to outrun and win the competition, what would the other trainees think? I doubt the respect they have for the officers would crumple since the officers are unable to perform as a role model. With that, my motivation sparked back and I am more than determined to strive harder. Especially in outfield where my combat fitness is still an issue.

Last portion relates to the family problems one of the trainees. The whole 5 minutes of conversation along the chain of command from the trainee requesting to book out, to the warrant officer played on my heartstrings. You can literally feel that the trainee had serious issues he was reluctant to divulge. Those dejected eyes, the elongated frown on the face and the distant look in the eyes provoked strong emotions within me. Tears had begun whelming up at the punctum of my eyes and next time, if such a thing ever happens, I will strive to give my all to help.

The whole story has one simple point to bring across which I believe is that army mature guys a lot. Probably that explains the title, ah boys to men.

Hopefully this has given you a little hindsight of what the movie is going to be like, and I will have to apologize if I spoil the movie for those who have yet to watch it.

I suggest you guys to do it before they don’t show it anymore.

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