She can tell how fit you are just from an X-ray

Why I Do What I Do is an original AsiaOne series where we showcase people with uncommon professions and what it takes to get there.


X-rays have been used to diagnose broken bones since the late 1800s. But did you know that they can also tell how fit you are?

According to radiographer Aurelia Tay, a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Dexa) scan can reveal details such as muscle mass and body fat percentage.

At DexaFit Asia, where Aurelia is also the centre manager, these scans and other diagnostic tools such as VO2 max tests can offer insights that can help clients on their fitness journeys.

Radiographers aren't just 'button pushers'

Just as photography is much more than just pushing a shutter button, radiography isn't as simple as it seems, Aurelia shares.

However, the 32-year-old says that the misconception of radiographers as mere "button pushers" still persists.

"Actually, it's very different," she says. "It's the mind process and the knowledge of the human anatomy, as well as the experience to be able to see beyond the flesh and blood that makes us very different."

In actual fact, radiographers are allied health professionals and have to have a degree in diagnostic radiography.

Aurelia, who has some nine years of experience, shares that back in the day, the options were limited to overseas universities or online degree programmes.

Now, things are more straightforward as the Singapore Institute of Technology offers a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Diagnostic Radiography programme.

From hospital to private sector

While radiographers — not to be confused with radiologists, who are medical specialists — in hospitals tend to deal with patients and injuries, Aurelia says much of her work currently revolves around the prevention of health issues.

"The clients, they generally come here are looking for fitness transformations. So they are not looking towards how to cure diseases."

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While she started out her career in a hospital, Aurelia found herself developing an interest in fitness. When she found out about DexaFit, it felt like, well, the perfect fit.

"I was always looking for careers in the healthcare sector because I want to serve the people, but I wanted to look for a unique career that actually gave me the flexibility, work-life balance and yet was different from the commonly known medicine and nursing."

Want to follow in her footsteps? Aurelia says compassion and a positive attitude is key.

"Not all patients are the same. Some require much more tender loving care. If you love to take up challenges, then this can be a very rewarding career for you."

kimberlylim@asiaone.com