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Student from Singapore Knew Books Alone Weren't Enough

April 11, 2013

Christina Tai“Sometimes books cannot tell you the actual feel of how you touch a patient. For interventions, books tell you roughly what to do but there isn’t a part that tells you how to touch, how many repetitions you have to do,” said Un San (“Christina”) Tai, an occupational therapist and current student in Drexel’s Certificate in Hand Therapy and Upper Quarter Rehabilitation Program. Tai works in an academic institution in Singapore that sees many complex, challenging hand patients. Although she has been working in the area of hand therapy for six years, Tai hasn’t always understood why she provides certain treatments and interventions. Now that she’s midway through the evidence-based curriculum at Drexel, she comprehends the basic science that supports interventions she’s been practicing for years. “The science makes us able to convince patients to follow through on what you need them to do,” she added. Tai’s primary goals are to sit for and pass the international certification examination and to gather experience and information that she can bring back to her therapy colleagues in Singapore. Although hand therapists don’t need to be licensed in order to practice in that country, her certification credential will go a long way in improving the reputation of her employer institution and in attracting and reassuring patients that they have come to a quality center with excellent therapists.

In her native Singapore, the best that a therapist can do to prepare themselves for a career in hand therapy is to try to acquire skills by reading available literature. Tai knew that she needed more than that. The on-site lab residency component is what ultimately drew her to the program at Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. She saw that the major differentiator between the Drexel program and the other American program she considered attending was the practical on-site experience that Drexel could offer.

“It’s a long distance for me to travel but I find that it’s worth it because here you’re able to mingle with different therapists from all over the States and Canada. Every time I come here I learn something real and practical,” Tai said. Acting as a sort of unofficial ambassador for Singapore, Tai plans to provide train-the-trainer workshops to help relay information and educate her colleagues, bringing them closer to the advancements in the field that are developing in the United States.