Back To The Frontline: Rejoining the Nursing Workforce at the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Posted on: 13th May, 2024

I always knew I wanted to help people; it’s what led me to pursue nursing at Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Health Sciences. My journey in the medical field began during my time with the St John Ambulance Brigade in school, igniting a passion for healthcare that guided my career choices.

I started receiving steroid treatment for immune thrombocytopenia a few years ago. Unfortunately, complications arose, and I had to undergo a hip replacement surgery twice in 2018 and 2019. The long and painful recovery process after surgery, coupled with the side effects of the medication, made me give up my job as a ward nurse back then at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). After changing careers, I worked in sales, and sold medical devices. But deep down, I missed being a nurse in the Emergency Department.

In 2020, when the world faced an unprecedented crisis from Covid, I saw, from outside the hospital walls, the gravity of the situation, the overwhelmed healthcare system, and exhausted staff. I thought of my dear colleagues at KTPH of whom I had worked side-by-side with before and how much I wanted to be with them fighting the pandemic and saving people’s lives. By then, I was mostly recovered and thus made the decision to rejoin nursing at KTPH, especially at a time where people in my profession were needed the most.

The work was indeed challenging, yet it felt worthwhile every time we saved a life, prevented a patient’s condition from deteriorating, or helped a patient get the treatment they needed. As a nurse, I witnessed both the beginning and end of life within the wards of the hospital.

The Motivation Behind my Academic Pursuit

During the period when I found myself on the patient’s side of the hospital bed, I realised how privileged we are in Singapore, to have a skilled and knowledgeable healthcare workforce, which can diagnose, treat and care for patients within the shortest and fastest response time. This is only possible because everyone in Singapore is given equal opportunities to upgrade themselves, right from the time they are in school to the time they are in the workforce.

This spurred me on to increase my knowledge and skills to be the best nurse I can be, because this will impact the lives of those we are responsible for, not just at work, but also at home, being a mother of 2 young children.

My academic pursuits have been as much for my children as they have been for myself. I’ve strived to set an example, demonstrating that regardless of the challenges life presents, resilience and determination can prevail. My desire to serve as a role model, particularly for my son as he navigates the early challenges of primary school, fuels my commitment. In moments when he expresses doubt or finds his studies daunting, I offer reassurance, reminding him that if his mummy can overcome obstacles, so too can he. They see their mum as a hero, one who went to work and saved lives, literally. I saw a reflection of my own passion in their eyes, and I couldn’t let that fade away. So, despite the potential challenges that I had seen coming my way, I decide to embrace them.

Nursing Degree with La Trobe University

Given the uncertainty of the future, I did not procrastinate in my decision to continue my studies. I started to search for a nursing degree programme that could allow me to study while working full-time as a senior staff nurse at KTPH. I chanced upon La Trobe University’s Nursing Degree at PSB Academy and learn that the degree covers topics such as advanced knowledge in clinical research, evidence-based practice, and ethics which would greatly enhance my capabilities at work. The part-time programme is also 100% coursework based and we are all taught personally through face-to-face and online classes by the faculty in Australia. Fate and luck were on my side when I was also awarded the PSB Academy-La Trobe University Nursing Scholarship. The scholarship sponsored my entire undergraduate studies without having to serve a bond. It is indeed a huge blessing not just for me, but my family.

Balancing Work and Studies

Studying part-time while working is no easy feat, especially at an older stage of life. I was out of touch with formal education for some time and was worried the rigidity would make it difficult for me to juggle everything.

But things went smoother than I was initially expecting. It wasn’t the easiest, but with time and effort I could fit into the class, and even contribute quite a bit to the learning from my own practical experiences as a nurse. The inclusive learning environment at PSB Academy played a crucial role in easing my transition. Surrounded by classmates of diverse backgrounds facilitated the exchange of experiences, knowledge, and support among students. I feel supported and encouraged. This diverse cohort provided opportunities for collaborative learning and a supportive network for sharing experiences and mutual encouragement.

The flexibility of the La Trobe’s nursing degree allowed me to customise my studies to fit my schedule and commitments, alleviating the challenges often faced by adult learners balancing work, family, and education. I am also grateful to my supportive colleagues and supervisors at KTPH. They will try to accommodate my shift requests to attend to my childcare and educational needs, all while maintaining fairness among the team.

Overall, my journey from nursing to higher education has been shaped by my resilience the emotional support from my family and colleagues and the financial support from PSB Academy-La Trobe University Nursing Scholarship. It’s a testament to the commitment of institutions like PSB Academy to providing inclusive education and making higher learning accessible to individuals at any stage of their lives.