04 June 2013

Employment Pass Medical Checkup

Heads Up: This is a continuation on my blogging about applying for an S-Pass employment visa in Singapore. If you miss part one, scroll to the bottom of the page for links to the corresponding sequences! 

So even though I was at the doctors less than a month ago to get all my last minute immunizations (Read:  Hurt a Lot) but apparently I am off again! A mandatory medical examination for any application for a Work Pass is required, no if, and's or naked butts in hospital gowns about it.

Yes, that's right, while I've been poked, prodded and forced to turn my head and cough while looking all so uncomfortable, it appears as if I need to go back to the doctors yet again because Singapore prefer's their own medical professionals confirm your health. I guess its only fair, while most doctors in the States are usually pretty qualified, it's probably the only way to remain fair to all the dozens of other countries... who's medical profession is sometimes a bit... off from the modern standard.

So in Singapore most Raffles Medical Centres allow for walk ins... and are also impossible to get onto the phone to confirm their business hours. Seven calls to seven clinics and I was ready to scream. Either they'd put you on hold for an hour and never come back, transfer you to the wrong line or accidentally hangup on you, forcing you back into the wait queue. It wasn't bad customer service, most of the nurses working the lines were genuinely aghast at the mishandling of my calls but I firmly believe it was the lack of phone training that lead to so many mistakes.

Finally I managed to nail down a time to try out the clinic in Asia One, an immense skyscraper which oddly seems to boarder a vast open field. I guess its meant for future construction but still, there is a random stretch of open land in the heart of Singapore's most urban region, that seems to extend for over two miles right to the ocean! It would be like all the land from the Empire State Building to the East River was just forgotten about... it's just weird to see in a city.

I known, shut up on this odd tangent and get back on topic.

So I arrive promptly at 9:00 AM, when the clinic opens and am the second walk-in through the door. I handed over my passport (Bring more than one form of photo ID to be safe!), my approved declaration of my work pass (this was provided by my company Human Resource department once the Ministry of Manpower approves my application to work in Singapore) and the standard medical exam check list. If you lose it, you can find it here.

It is a basic check list to be filled out by the examining doctor, so make sure it is blank when you hand it over to the front-desk nurse. She will hand you a piece of paper with a row bar-code sticker on it this is now your best friend and never let it out of your site until your done. Each sticker will link to an electronic report of your medical test results, it means the doctors doing your exam won't force you to carry around giant tomes of information for them to refer to. Its all going to be on this flimsy piece of paper.

Now it's time to play the waiting game. This waiting room, while very clean and high-tech, with a HD-plasma television play the latest news from CNN and only the most illustrious business magazines on its coffee tables surrounded by fine leather furniture, it still uses the wall mounted number counter that you see at the deli!

After the first woman goes it and returns after twenty-minutes, its my turn. I quickly find myself sitting across from a boy in a doctor's coat... Yes I said boy because instantly I thought the woman before me had forgotten her 12-year old son when she departed. Instead, with a surgical face mask pulled up to his eyes, he asked to see my ID to confirm my identification.

I knew I had given this to the front-desk nurse but one thing my parent's always taught me, NEVER argue or lie with the Police, Firemen, Military and especially Doctors. So I instantly produce my passport, however being that the picture is six-years out of date (Plus I looked stoned in my picture... I WASN'T! I had the flu!) he wasn't too convinced. This is where those extra pieces of ID come in handy, and I quickly produced my US drivers license, college ID and my social security card. That seemed enough to convince him and he quickly launched into the examination once he was satisfied.

The first exam is blood pressure, the chest exam and abdominal exam... which I didn't like because honestly its someone poking you with something cold and telling you what to do... its possibly the reason I also don't like personal trainers... why pay someone to tell you to do something... it seems self-defeating. I also won't give this boy/doctor any points on bed-side manner and my usually liberal usage of curse words were kept tightly under-check... mostly...

The exam of course ends with the standard blood exam. This exam is a deciding factor on whether your pass it approved, failing even one portion of the two criteria points means an automatic reject of your application. If you test positive for pulmonary Tuberculosis and/or HIV... I'm sorry but you can be subject to immediate repatriation.

I know its horrible and discriminatory but Singapore's health system is premier in the world... and few people argue against the local medical establishment when you realize that the country is an isolate island surrounded by medically poorer and larger countries... and a world travel hub... the kind of place where an minor epidemic can spread like wildfire with catastrophic results. Singaporeans have been actively trying to eradicate Dengue Fever and the Mosquitoes who carry it... a species that is incredibly prevalent in this region of the world. At least in temperate zones you have summer to purge the populations, here in the tropics its a year-round threat. Dengue, has a nearly two-week incubation period, while for adults it comes off as a sever cold/flu... complications are common small children who become infect.

Any form of infections disease is an immediate reason for rejection of any form of visa in Singapore and will instantly black list you. You'll have to immediately be repatriated (within reason of course) and you may be barred from ever returning as a tourist.

Back to the blood test... to which I believe I did fine with... except having to watch the needle plunge into my arm. I'm fine with the pain, the blood, the minor ache in your vein after the fact... but the image of that piece of metal piercing my skin always makes me jump and shriek like a little girl... alright not that bad but I go rigid like a board expecting the needle will come bursting out the other side of my arm at any second...

And for those that didn't slam my blog shut after that amazing act of imagery, I can say that was the worse part... physically.

While the medical examination is held in one office, the actual chest X-ray that is required is hosted in another. Now I knew why this office was so beautifully decorated, it was because they hadn't to host any of the more expensive pieces of medical hardware.

The actual x-ray machine was a good 15-minute walk away, this time in Raffles itself. Again this office was walk-in... and being that it was now 9:40 AM... it was packed.

Thankfully x-rays are not as common as you think... but you have to mention that's the reason you are there. Stating your there for a employment pass medical check-up can have them start the process all over again, wasting your valuable time... saying that you were sent from another office for a specific procedure and then presenting the paper with the sticker bar-codes on it. This will save you a ton of time... and not have you waiting in the wrong line for 30-minutes... like me... who then got shifted to a line that took... 2-minutes!

X-ray is super fast, taking less than two scans and completed in under a minute. If you not keen to stand half-naked in a strange room with a crowd of people outside... wear a light under-shirt and they generally will let you get away with it.

When your finished they will be taking your medical card given to you at the start (the one with all the bar-code stickers) and your off, nothing to really show for it. That's because in four to five business days they will call you back and hand you back your medical examination form, filled out by the doctor with all the notes if you passed or not.

As the AngMoh is still in Singapore, you can tell I passed. With this finished, the approved Employment Pass Application and my personal documents/IDs... its time to head onto the Ministry of Manpower to hand in my paperwork and get my pass!

Read about it in the next post: Registering for Employment Pass.

For those that missed it, here is the complete S-Pass Application Process. Click below for:


  1. Congrats for passing S-pass! It seems the medical employment check-up works like any other standard procedure employment medical check-up. But you're right about that; for the sake of being fair, you had to undergo through it again. Did you have a blood test, too, with your check-up in the US? Did you have to take the blood test twice? Hugh @ USHealthWorks.com

  2. I approve of their meticulous effort to check everyone that wants to work in their land, as it is a great way to head off any problems health-wise. As you’ve said, with a relatively small landmass and a lot of contact with people from different trades, it is definitely a good idea to remove the possible cause of sickness before it turns into a rampant epidemic. Glad you were a good sport about it. Cheers!

    Sabrina @ USAFact