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Medical Social Worker - Faith Tan Man Hong

Being a Medical Social Worker never crossed Faith Tan’s mind when she was young, simply because she did not know such an occupation existed. It was only when she was supporting department operations as an administrative assistant at the Institute of Mental Health that she got to know case managers who were trained in social work or psychology. That exposure to the profession, however, was enough to interest her in a career in social work.

“I chose to be a Medical Social Worker because it gives me the privilege of supporting someone in need on their medical journey. It also provides opportunities to understand, learn and attain knowledge of current social issues that patients have been experiencing first-hand, so that I can continue to advocate and care for them,” she said.

Faith worked at Changi General Hospital as a social work assistant from 2012-2014, supporting department operations with administrative tasks. The good peer support and relationships with her colleagues then saw her return to the hospital as a Medial Social Worker in 2019.

Contrary to popular opinion, medical social workers do a lot more than offer financial assistance to needy patients. It is a collaborative effort between patients and their respective caregivers.

“We are involved in clinical work, providing assistance and interventions to our patients and their caregivers. As we join our patient and caregiver on their journey of caregiving and recovery, the relationship is a consistent and collaborative two-way street. Our patients and caregivers have many life experiences and challenges that we may not have experienced in a lifetime, and there is so much that we can learn from them,” she shared.

A typical day for Faith sees her reviewing and tracking her patients’ progress during their hospitalisation stay. She works closely with the hospital’s multi-disciplinary care team, community partners, patients and their caregivers to develop her patients’ care plans and address any concerns they may have. Depending on the patients’ care needs, she recommends services and schemes to support caregivers in the patients’ care after they can go home. She also does administrative work, including documentation and submission of referrals for community services or institutionalised care services required, and attends meetings and trainings.

Being a Medical Social Worker is not without challenges. Faith’s work in supporting her patients’ journey each day does mean demanding patients or family members from time to time, and having to come up with creative solutions to match her patients with the required community services for their needs.

“As medical social workers, we sometimes face social issues that are mixed with human emotions and coupled with systemic challenges. Even after work, I find myself thinking about how I can help my patients and if there are solutions that can help with their situations. It can also be an internal struggle, resulting in emotional triggers. To manage this, it is important to have self-awareness, practice self-reflection and have someone to rely on to process these experiences,” she shared.

The strong peer support at CGH is why Faith continues to find medical social work fulfilling. Whenever she encounters challenges at work, she knows she can always approach her colleagues for help and advice.

“If you are looking for a dynamic working environment that is filled with opportunities to grow, consider being a part of the CGH care team!”

If you’d like to join the CGH family, head here to find out more about the career opportunities available: