A desire to contribute to the community underpinned Mr Ahmad Bukhari Ahmad Tarmizi’s choice of career and attitude towards his scholarship.

The 26-year-old is currently a physiotherapist at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). He studied for his Bachelor of Physiotherapy degree at the University of Queensland in Australia on the Health Science Scholarship, graduating with upper second class honours.

The scholarship has since been renamed the Healthcare Merit Scholarship and is given by MOH Holdings, the holding company for Singapore’s public healthcare clusters.

“My scholarship provided me with a peace of mind both financially and career-wise. I could then focus my attention to gathering as much knowledge, techniques and skills during my studies to develop and flourish and be successful in my field of work,” he says.

The time spent in Australia was an eye opener for Mr Ahmad Bukhari, both professionally and personally. “My course was rigorous and in depth as we had specialists in different fields teaching us. It broadened my understanding of the physiotherapy discipline and updated me on the latest theories and techniques in my profession,” he says.

Paying it back

As part of his degree requirements, he was attached to three hospitals and a residential seniors facility for 10 months as a trainee physiotherapist. There, he had the chance to understand how the Australian healthcare system works.

The scholarship comes with a Holistic care for patients six-year bond, which Mr Ahmad Bukhari sees as an opportunity to repay society for its investment in him. “Physiotherapy allows me to explore the different impairments patients have and any barriers preventing them from keeping fit and healthy,” he says.

Always looking for ways to contribute, Mr Ahmad Bukhari served as a sports trainer for the Australian Football League team while at university, using his physiotherapy knowledge to help injured players.

He currently volunteers with Apex Mentors, a local organisation that helps Primary 6 pupils prepare for their PSLE. “I am privileged to be able to mentor the young ones, understand them and help them deal with their studies and life issues,” he adds.

On-the-job training

He describes a physiotherapist’s job as “tough and sweaty” because of the hands-on work required when providing physical therapy to the patients. “The hours can be long especially since patient load is normally high and we are required to think on our feet all the time,” he says.

But the work is also deeply satisfying.

Two years into his job, he says: “Physiotherapy is never mundane. Every day, there are cases that challenge my mind to think of how to develop better care for my patients. We aim to treat the patient as a whole, consider their stressors and not just their musculoskeletal pain.

“Having a good bunch of friends and colleagues working together makes this tough work rewarding and enjoyable,” he adds.

To expose physiotherapists to the range of clinics that require their services at KTPH, they serve a minimum of four rotations. “Being exposed to different skills and techniques unique to each rotation helps therapists become versatile and competent in all aspects of patient care. This will result in holistic care for the patients,” he says.

Such holistic care is evident in the hospital’s multi-disciplinary approach to treatment. For example, an elderly stroke patient may have professionals from the acute stroke unit, geriatric department and physiotherapist group form a team to treat him. The team pools their inputs and knowledge to come up with an integrated plan of care specially developed for the patient.

Mr Ahmad Bukhari enjoys the work culture at KTPH, where everyone can voice their opinions, and the seniors and heads of departments are approachable. He enjoys the company of his co-workers so much, he continues to spend time with them after work, playing captain’s ball and futsal in sports activities organised by the hospital.