Taking a gap year - My journey with Integrated Health Promotion
It's hard to imagine that just a year ago, being rejected from medical school felt like the worst nightmare for me. Feelings of loss, disappointment and frustration were overwhelming. Stuck at the lonely crossroads of having to decide between settling with another career option and pursuing my dreams, I stood firm with the latter. Little did I expect that this decision would kickstart a memorable journey with MOHT's InHealth team.
The reality of taking a gap year in the midst of a pandemic meant that choices were limited. Nevertheless, I was fortunate that my consistent commitment to community service as a youth grassroots leader gave me an opportunity to learn more about the Behavioural Needs Assessment project led by MOHT earlier that year. Deeply drawn by the concept behind the project, my involvement allowed me to see a different perspective of preventive health - one that is driven by data-centric and synergistic interventions that consider people’s intrinsic motivating factors in sustaining healthy behaviours. By then, having served in the community for over a year, this holistic approach that seeks to reduce duplication of healthcare interventions resonated with me deeply and I joined InHealth shortly after to integrate my grassroots experience with improving community health interventions.
The first few months of my internship proved to be a steep learning curve as I endeavoured to understand and apply complex healthcare concepts and frameworks. Juggling the workload of 2 additional diploma courses I had chosen to take up at the side and adjusting to the demands of working in a high performing environment was undoubtedly challenging. Fortunately, the supportive working environment was welcoming as I was able to quickly integrate into the team. Close guidance and frequent communication with my supervisors also created an ideal learning environment and I found myself taking on increasingly larger tasks with minimal supervision. Most importantly, being in a team with members from multidisciplinary backgrounds created a highly collaborative environment where everyone’s input was valued.
Unlike organising routine school projects, the process of having to understand and scope complex and entrenched problems, conceptualise and innovate processes and frameworks was extremely eye-opening. I was introduced to key areas of priority, for instance - reaching out to the hard-to-reach in the community and moving towards precision public health. Moreover, meetings with other key agencies and partners gave me a clearer understanding of the different initiatives they are working on and how we may add value to their programmes.
Being a part of this fluid and dynamic working space also highlighted to me the importance of flexibility and adaptability in our solutions such that they can evolve and adapt to the ever changing needs in the health landscape.
A year ago, I would never have imagined that a setback at the most crucial juncture of my school life would see the greatest growth in me. In hindsight, taking the year off did not only allow me to gain exposure into the healthcare industry but also gave me the opportunity to build my character, pursue my passions and to enjoy the little things in life at a slightly slower pace.
As I start my medical school journey with a renewed sense of purpose, I will always remember the lessons that my internship has taught me and the soft skills that I’ve gained from working in MOHT. To all my juniors who may be in the same position as me last year, and others equally intrigued by healthcare transformation, never be afraid to take an unconventional approach and always have courage to chase your dreams!
Photo: Yiming and colleagues from the MOHT InHealth team.
(This photo was taken after a long hike in early 2021, before Phase 2 restrictions kicked in)