Biomedical Science (BMS) graduate Julia Tan knew early on that she would want to pursue a career in healthcare, thanks to her fascination with the human body and blood in particular.
“Blood tells us a lot about a person’s health, and there’s no replacement for it. That’s why I’m passionate about it,” said Julia, a regular blood donor who topped all three Haematology modules in her course.
Even her final-year research project involved blood. She had to draw blood to study platelet reactivity, spending countless hours to determine research protocols and running experiments over and over again to get reliable results. All this helped build up her resilience.
Julia cherishes her two-year internship at National University Hospital, offered under her diploma’s Clinical Laboratory Technology specialisation. The stint gave her the opportunity to conduct diagnostic laboratory tests as well as interact with patients.
It was this interaction with patients that ignited her interest in Medicine. “Even when I knew the diagnosis, I could not tell patients and relieve their anxiety – it was not my job! That’s why I want to become a doctor,” said Julia, adding that she is grateful to her lecturers who arranged for her to shadow doctors and other healthcare professionals. This gave her a 360-degree view of working in a hospital.
Continuing her passion in healthcare outside of her course, Julia was active in the Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) Red Cross Youth Chapter of which she was President in her final year. She also serves in a Residents’ Committee and has helped to run several community activities.
A highlight of her NP journey was her Overseas Merit Award trip to Perth where she met Professor Barry Marshall who had discovered that stomach ulcers were caused by bacteria. The Nobel Laureate inspired her with his gung-ho, always-curious and never-give-up attitude towards research.
Another eye-opening trip was to Laos. “I was shocked that people in the village I visited had to travel as much as four hours to get medical care in the city,” said Julia who wants to work with humanitarian medical aid teams in future.
For this to happen, she hopes to be able to study medicine, with a long-term goal to become a haematology consultant.
The Lee Kuan Yew Award was first presented in 1992. It is awarded to the most outstanding graduate from a technology course in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The award is funded by the late former Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee donated the honorarium that he received from various speaking engagements and from the funds raised from a special edition of his memoirs.
The Ngee Ann Polytechnic Outstanding Achievement Award is a premier award for all-round excellence. It is presented to a select group of five to 10 top graduates from each graduating batch of more than 5,000 students. The award was presented for the first time in 2010. This year, five Ngee Ann Polytechnic Outstanding Achievement Awards will be given.