Becoming a nurse was the best thing that happened to me.
As a student, I had wanted to study nursing, but my mother was against it. Like most parents, she thought nursing was simply looking after and bathing patients. Being an only child, she was concerned about the tough nature of the job and decided it would be better for me to pursue a Diploma in Chemical Engineering instead.
Nursing nonetheless remained an interest and after two years of working as planner in a semiconductor industry, I saw the opportunity for me to go back into nursing when the government published a sponsored program on accelerated diploma in nursing.
Without her knowledge, I went ahead with the application, even signing the bond with TTSH. That was one of the most difficult decisions because eventually when I told her, she was so against it that she did not speak to me for a few months.
What changed my mother’s attitude was when she saw me apply what I learnt in nursing school to the caring of my grandmother who was suffering from diabetes and required insulin injections. I was also able to teach her how to better care for my grandmother. Slowly, she understood that nursing is a profession beyond bedside care. She realised it was profession where you are able to translate what you’ve learnt and apply it to your daily life and that was when she really came around and became supportive of my choice. When I went on to study for a part-time degree in nursing and also an Advanced Diploma in Critical Care Nursing, she became my biggest pillar of support.
Being in the ICU, I usually see people at their most dire. Interacting with them, I’ve learnt that everyone has a kind side that they sometimes hide due to fear and anxiety. Being patient with them and listening to their anxieties helps to bring comfort to them.
During the mission trips with Operation Smile, it never fails to make me realise just how blessed we are in Singapore. Some of the children who come to us for cleft lip and palate surgery are abandoned at birth, to orphanages, at roadsides or even in churches when the parents realise that they are born with cleft lip and palate. They are viewed as a liability and thus abandoned. Even basic necessities like cupboards, we had to DIY from scratch. It is really a humbling experience but when you see the smiles being given back to these children after their surgeries, that feeling is truly priceless.
It is going to be my 10th year in TTSH soon, and I would like to thank everybody in this TTSH family for shaping me into whom I am today. Because you are here, I have also grown to become a better person than I was yesterday.
Senior Staff Nurse, Ward 6A
Tan Tock Seng