With rising medical costs and an ageing Singapore population, healthcare professional Corrinne Tan recognised that she needed to better equip herself for the impending challenges her industry faces. So she decided to head back to school.
The right motivation
In 2015, Ms Tan enrolled in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) Healthcare Management Specialisation programme at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Currently in the third year of her part-time studies, Ms Tan, 39, assistant director at National Healthcare Group Pharmacy, continues to work full-time and expects to graduate this year.
Explaining her role in her organisation’s pharmacy transformation department, she says that the aim is to make pharmacy services affordable, valuable and accessible and more integrated with other healthcare services, and to give patients safer care through appropriate medication use.
She says: “I am constantly presented with opportunities to play my part in shaping the future of Singapore’s healthcare.
“I felt that an MBA would complement my current skill set, help me gain business acumen and equip me with up-to-date knowledge and relevant management skills to face new healthcare challenges.”
Another motivating factor was her father, a retired vegetable distributor, who inspired her to pursue healthcare as a career.
Growing up, she would often see him select appropriate off-the-counter medication for himself and the family. His resourcefulness and intuitiveness made her curious about medicine and prompted her to want to learn more.
Ms Tan says: “He values education a lot and has always hoped that his children would have the opportunity to study for a PhD or master’s degree.
He has given me so much and I hope to do well in life for him.”
After obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy with Honours from NUS, Ms Tan worked as a sales and marketing pharmaceutical representative and a community pharmacist for various companies before joining National Healthcare Group Pharmacy in 2009.
Enriched by the ride
Ms Tan, who is studying for her MBA on a Ministry of Health scholarship through her company, says it has been challenging to juggle work, family and school.
“Good planning and time management are very important, as are hard work and perseverance,” she adds.
During the semester, she attends lectures about three times on weekday evenings or a full day on Saturdays. She also works on group projects outside work and
school hours with team members.
She says: “It’s not uncommon for me to get about five hours of sleep every day during an academic semester. Supportive family, colleagues, lecturers and coursemates have helped me to cope. Ample coffee helps too.”
Despite her packed schedule, Ms Tan finds her course enriching and has enabled her to expand her social and professional network.
She adds: “I have learnt a lot from interactions with classmates from different professional backgrounds and life experiences.”
“My NUS MBA cohort comprises students with a diverse mix of industry backgrounds, with the majority of them hailing from the Americas, Europe and Asia.”
Growing in confidence
The NUS MBA Students’ Council organises networking events to enable students to build cross-cultural friendships and interact with people from different industries to learn more about other potential career paths.
The university also organises leadership seminars, where experts in their fields share lessons on leadership.
Ms Tan says: “Through the course of my MBA, I’ve realised that not all learning has to be a direct result of the coursework.
“The NUS professors continue to be mentors even after our modules are over, and I am fortunate to be able to seek their advice when I need to.”
Ms Tan says she has gained more confidence in her interactions with others, especially senior colleagues.
“Going through the postgraduate course has enhanced my critical thinking skills and given me sound theoretical knowledge to make business decisions with
more conviction,” she adds.