​This article is extracted from BrightSparks magazine.

The delivery of patient care is not restricted to just the doctors and nurses. There are many groups of healthcare professionals, and each specialises in a specific area of expertise to make a difference in patients’ lives. For Scholar David Low Yee Chuen, it is the role of a pharmacist that resonated with him.

David Low Yee Chuen is a scholarship recipient of the Healthcare Merit Award and holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy from NUS. He currently works as a Pharmacist at Sengkang General Hospital.

Pharmacy is a common touchpoint for patients before leaving the hospital. We are placed in a good position to make a lasting positive impression on the patients during their experience at the hospital,” said David Low Yee Chuen, who is now living out his career aspiration as a Pharmacist at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH).

He also thinks that pharmacists are versatile in their jobs. “You can see them in various healthcare settings, be it the outpatient pharmacy or inpatient wards. “I came to the realisation that breathing is not something to be taken for granted. As the saying goes, ‘When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.’ This is what motivates me to pursue this career path,” she said. They work closely with doctors to provide a wide range of services, like medication reconciliation, anticoagulation counselling and more,” he explained.

David believes that a pharmacist can make a big difference to patients’ health outcomes by enabling them to achieve the best results from their medications. Therefore, it is of no surprise that he finds his calling as a pharmacist. To David, it is more than just a job.

A Passion to Help Those in Need

Since young, David had a strong interest in chemistry and biology and the passion to serve patients.

“I have always wanted to help people in need and the healthcare sector is a good fit as I can be involved in advising patients about their medications and help them improve safety, efficacy and adherence in medicines use. Added to that, chemistry and biology were my strongest subjects in school,” he enthused, “Pharmacy was an obvious choice when I was applying for university courses after my A-Levels!”

It was a decision that he has not looked back on.

“My four-year degree programme in pharmacy at NUS has prepared me well for my current role. It taught us many things, such as the principles of how drugs work in the body, how they are processed or metabolised in the body, taking chemistry to a higher level. We also learnt how to compound drugs and how capsules and tablets are made. There were hands-on lab sessions as well. We were also taught Microbiology. Topics such as Pharmacotherapy and Pharmacy Law and Ethics were also covered to better prepare us to become a pharmacist,” he shared.

While David is currently working in the hospital, his university studies have prepared him for the different areas in which a pharmacist may work in, including the pharmaceutical industry and research or regulatory body.

David Low Yee Chuen

Getting Ahead with A Scholarship

Having come from a humble family background, David was grateful to be awarded the Healthcare Merit Award offered by MOH Holdings (MOHH), a holding company of Singapore’s public healthcare clusters.

“I was relieved that my university tuition fees were taken care of by the scholarship. Not only that, but I was also given a monthly allowance which was of great help to me and my family!” he exclaimed.

During the third year of his studies, David was also given the opportunity to travel to Korea and participate in the Hanyang Summer Exchange where he studied a module on health equity and learned more about how different social and environmental factors can limit a person’s access to quality healthcare and how these challenges can be overcome. The cost of his Exchange programme was covered by the scholarship via funds provided under the Scholars’ Development Framework.

Besides providing financial support, MOHH also organised the Healthcare Scholars Induction Camp where scholars like David interacted and made friends with ‘future colleagues’. “The camp was a good opportunity for us to build rapport with the various healthcare groups of scholars and broaden our knowledge of other healthcare related jobs, which is helpful when we work with one another in the future,” he added.

To David, his scholarship did more than just provide financial support for his university studies and a job after graduating. “Not only have I become more outspoken and confident, but I am also able to build better relationships with people, which is crucial for my role as a pharmacist,” he shared.

“Pharmacy is a common touchpoint for patients before leaving the hospital. We are placed in a good position to make a lasting positive impression on the patients during their hospital experience.”

David Low Yee Chuen

A Fulfilling Path

As a pharmacist, David ensures safe and effective drug usage by dispensing medications according to the prescriptions or interventions performed with the doctors, as well as providing medication counselling to guide patients on the proper way to take their medications and identifying drug-related problems.

“Safe and proper use of medicine has a direct impact on patients’ health outcomes. This makes my role a very fulfilling one,” he mused.

Convincing patients to adhere to their medicine schedule sometimes can be a challenge, but David takes it in his stride. “Having good communication skills and being sensitive to the patients’ needs are key. Only then can we empower them to take charge of their health journey,” he explained.

Providing guidance to junior and pre-registration pharmacists is also part of David’s duties, something that brings much satisfaction to him. “I find it gratifying to be able to impart my knowledge, experience and skills to nurture future pharmacists,” he shared.

Scaling To Greater Heights

Looking to the future, David aims to progress to a Senior Pharmacist by taking on more initiatives and upskilling himself to evolve his skills in keeping up with the changes in the healthcare industry.

SKH provides courses for staff to upskill themselves in areas such as leadership, self-confidence, communication and quality improvement. “I was provided with an opportunity to attend a smoking cessation course to become more proficient in helping patients quit smoking, with the potential of running smoking cessation clinics in the future,” he said.

Another one of David’s goals is to work towards the successful launch of the MedStation, a new service for patients in SKH to collect their medications from lockers. The MedStation project is ready for implementation in January 2023 as a pilot for staff use. With a successful pilot implementation, this will then be extended to patients to enhance their convenience in medication collection.

“To manage this well, I would need to work closely with my team and the vendors to resolve any teething issues and be open to feedback for improvement,” he shared.