More allied health professionals with degrees joining public sector

Not only are there more allied health professionals (AHP) joining the public sector here, they are also more educated than before.

The National Healthcare Group (NHG) reported a 50 per cent jump in the number of such professionals in the past five years - with degree-holders driving much of this rise, it said in a statement on Friday. Almost all of these professionals at its nine polyclinics have a degree. In the past, mainly diploma holders filled up these posts. This group of health-care workers include therapists, pharmacists, medical social workers, radiographers and dietitians.

Professor Chee Yam Cheng, NHG group chief executive officer, said the rise can be attributed to better funding and support available for training, as well as the emphasis on continuous learning and upgrading of staff.

Over at SingHealth Group, its group director for allied health Celia Tan said from 2008 to last year (2012), 60 per cent more AHPs have been hired. Those with at least a degree have also shot up by 64 per cent from 2008 to 2011, she added.

In the past, the organization was "very dependent" on overseas trainers, she explained. But this has changed today, with its specialist staff able to come up with home-grown training programmes for their younger peers.

TTSH's director of operations for clinical support services Dr Pauline Yong noted that training is relevant given that there is a greater use of technology today.

"With today's advances in technology, healthcare is now dependent on a team of highly qualified professionals who can navigate the complex landscape of patient care delivery," she said.

One of them is medical technologist Carol Sim of Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic, who holds a degree in biomedical sciences.

She said she now has a keener eye for detail and is more analytical. "It can be quite traumatic for some patients to have their blood drawn," she said. "You have to be confident in your approach."