A Career Switch that Made Life More Meaningful

Goh is a physiotherapist at SPD, but unlike many of his peers, he did not start out in his career as one. Inspired to be one after a personal experience, [...]

Goh is a physiotherapist at SPD, but unlike many of his peers, he did not start out in his career as one. Inspired to be one after a personal experience, Jacky decided on a mid-career switch and joined the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s (WDA) Professional Conversion Programme (PCP).

The PCP helps jobseekers arm themselves with new skills and to obtain the necessary knowledge and competencies to take on new jobs in the IT, early childhood, creative and social service sectors.

We had a chat with him during one of his breaks at the SPD Rehabilitation Centre to find out why he chose this career path.

UPDATES (U): What do you do at SPD?
Jacky (J): I am a physiotherapist at SPD and I work mainly with the elderly who have poor physical functions after their discharge from the hospital. I recommend strengthening exercises and teach them proper movements to help bring them, as much as possible, back to their former fitness levels.

U: What were you doing before joining SPD as a physiotherapist?
J: I was working in the real estate industry managing buildings.

U: How did you become interested in becoming a physiotherapist?
J: I had an ankle injury doing sports several years ago and the pain was unbearable. I was anxious to regain my mobility then so I turned to a physiotherapist for help. My problems were resolved quickly and the treatment opened my eyes to what physiotherapy is. I was fascinated with the techniques used, and amazed at the impact and how it can help maximise independence.

U: What did you do next?
J: I was convinced that it was a very meaningful way to contribute to society.

Back in 2011, I was exploring the possibility of a career switch when I got to know about the WDA’s PCP for Physiotherapists from a friend. I went ahead and pursued a full-time Diploma in Physiotherapy at Nanyang Polytechnic.

U: How was the conversion journey like? Any memorable moments?
J: During my three-year course, I received training in managing and preventing problems that affect the physical functioning of the body, as well as physiological and biomechanical insights to the human body. I learnt to appreciate how the human body systems work and began to understand the treatment strategies. All the subjects taught were applicable to my work in SPD now, particularly the patient-handling skills and treatment strategies.

The most memorable experience took place during this conversion stint and affirmed my career switch. While I was on hospital attachment, I had to treat a patient who, despite having undergone several treatment methods, continued to feel pain in his lower back. Using the techniques that I learnt, I guided the patient in working the affected areas and after just two sessions, he reported feeling less pain. I was very happy!

U: What are the best and most challenging moments in SPD now?
J: The sense of satisfaction when a client recovers well is the best reward any day. The greatest challenge however would be working with unmotivated clients as a person’s recovery potential depends a lot on his mind set. I hope to pick up more skills so that there are more therapy options for the clients.

U: Were there any skills you could bring from your previous job to your new career?
J: The soft skills I learnt as a frontline service staff in the real estate industry is also useful in the health-care and social service sectors. With them, I am better able to engage clients who come from all walks of life.

U: Do you have any advice for people who are considering a career switch?
J: My switch to physiotherapy has been rewarding. The sense of fulfilment I get whenever any of my clients says ‘thank you’ leave me with no regrets in making the switch. My advice for those who are considering a career switch – be humble in learning.