The heart of the matter

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Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you have all had a really amazing past week, with the passing of Christmas and the New Year!

To be honest, it was a pleasant reminder to know that its been the end of another decade(it does make us seem quite old) and with that thought came a flurry of flash backs to when I was 11(hint: A decade ago). When I was 11 it was probably beyond my wildest imaginations that I’d be working as a physiotherapist(I bet I didn’t even know of their existence). Lofty ideas of chasing criminals as a policeman or treating patients as a doctor or even standing before the judge as a lawyer (typical Asian boy aspirations). Sadly, this train of thoughts was disrupted by the reminder from a classmate about the impending exams, both theory and practical

Being a physiotherapy student isn’t easy! You study almost as hard as a scientist, you carry as heavy loads as a body builder and you don’t get the recognition of either! The nature of the course is unique, housed in Nanyang Polytechnic, Physiotherapy is among several allied health diplomas such as Occupational Therapy and Radiography that require A’ Levels as a prerequisite. This is a very unique setting in a country which prizes itself on its education system where a TYPICAL A’ Level student goes through a TYPICAL route to a university, to get a degree and carry on with life.

Most if not all students in the course are all too familiar with the benign question on where they are heading after their A’ Levels and how this simple question leads to a myriad of questions. Most people do not have an ideal impression of people going to polytechnic after going through a rigorous 2 years of academic pursuit in junior college. Among the first few thoughts that come to their mind are “school drop out” or “flunkie”. Its a stigmatization that most allied health students are familiar with.

This brings me to speak about the heart of a physiotherapy student. Being in the health care industry involves more than brain knowledge, it takes more than hands-on skill, it takes heart. Physiotherapist cover a wide spectrum of specializations having a part to play in almost all aspects of healthcare. The involvements and the skills needed might be different but the one constant that every single physiotherapist revolves around is their patient. Unlike other vocations,recognition, fame and wealth all take a side seat as the ultimate goal of all physiotherapist is for the betterment  of quality of life of their patients. Students are groomed to constantly question and understand how the human body works and the signs and symptoms that will appear in any form of injury for the sole reason of treating patients. At the back of our minds are thoughts and reasoning that pertain to the welfare of our patients.

As a year one student I have repeatedly revisited my motivation as a physiotherapy student, almost as many times as I have been asked where I’m studying at. When studying gets tough and memorizing becomes a chore, I turn back to the heart of the matter, on how the muscle groups that I’m memorizing and the chemical reactions that I have to be aware of will affect my treatment of patients in the future. When I see the big picture on how the body functions not as separate entities but as one, it all reminds me why I have chosen this path and why I continue along it.

As such, I hope you reflect and question yourself on your motivations, wherever you are in life, as you continue to reflect on the year or the decade that has passed!

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