Nursing their way to a mid-career switch
The Bachelor of Science (Nursing) Professional Conversion Programme allows mid-career Singaporeans a chance to be nurses. Three of them tell CHEOW SUE-ANN why they made the switch
Mr Dave Hio, 46, was a sales and operations manager in the marine and offshore sector, managing a team of over 100 people.
But in 2017, he felt he was ready for a different type of challenge.
The mechanical engineering graduate holds a degree from Glasgow University and a master's from the National University of Singapore.
After working for 22 years - 10 in the defence industry and 12 in the marine and offshore industry - he wanted a job where he could help others.
He felt like he was not getting satisfaction from work, and he said: "It was just all about selling people something, sometimes not even things they need or want, and it was all about meeting targets."
The father of twoknew he needed a job switch to be happy, si he turned to the healthcare sector.
Mr Hio is currently undergoing training at the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
He is part of the inaugural batch of 34 trainees, and they will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing upon completion of the two-year accelerated programme next year.
Mr Hio said: "You might start at the bottom, but as you learn and are able to gain expertise, the respect will be earned."
He said the career switch was not as shocking as many might expect.
There were transferable skills he could bring over from his previous job.
Mr Hio said: "Like in sales, there is a need to target the approach towards different clients. In the same way, I am able to adjust the way I approach each patient, deciding what would work best for each person."
He said that since starting his nursing course about half a year ago, he has found himself learning to be more compassionate and sympathetic.
He added: "In engineering, you don't need to think about how machines feel or understand them. But I have since learnt to understand people and their circumstances better."
He said the biggest difference was having to give up his previous pay package.
While his wife was initially hesitant about the switch, she supported him after understanding that his new career would help him feel more fulfilled and happy.
He said: "It is never too late to do what you like, and sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith.
"Even at training, every day I feel appreciated.
"And having the immediate feedback from patients helps me feel like I am learning every day and gives me that sense of accomplishment."
He saw ‘textbook come to life’ when son had jaundice
He had wanted to be a nurse after completing his A-level examinations.
But Mr Muhammad Rusydi, 31, was not accepted into the course, so he studied economics and management at the Singapore Institute of Management.
He then worked in sales.
Last year, just as he was about to welcome his child, Mr Rusydi was given a second chance to pursue his dream.
He said: "Seeing my mother, who was a dedicated nurse for over 30 years, and all the cards and appreciation she got from her patients, inspired me."
When the option to re-enter university to study to be a nurse opened up, he jumped at the chance, despite knowing that he was in for a big lifestyle change.
Mr Rusydi says his training as a nurse has also helped him be a better father. For example, he now knows how to bathe his three-month-old son.
He said: "My child was hospitalised for severe jaundice, and we happened to be studying that topic at the time.
"It was like seeing everything from my textbook come to life."
But making the switch has not been easy, he said.
He recounted a comment that stuck with him: "Why do you study so hard at NUS (National University of Singapore) just to be a nurse?"
He added: "This perception of nurses not needing a degree, or of nursing as something anybody can do, is still out there.
"All we can do is to learn and show (the naysayers) that the knowledge and experience counts towards something." - CHEOW SUE-ANN
Biomedical sciences graduate makes switch to become nurse
She always wanted to be a nurse but the thought of gruesome injuries put her off, initially.
But after hearing the happy stories from her younger sister, a nurse, of patients who had recovered from illness, Joan Lim, 30, eventally made the jump.
The biomedical sciences graduate saw an opening for the degree programme and decided to make the switch.
She said: "I have always wanted to work with patients in a ward setting, to be able to follow them through their treatment.
"To know they trust me to help them in their most private moments, to me, that is really humbling.
"That they trust me, a stranger, to take care of them."
Ms Lim came from a healthcare background, working as an embryologist where she mostly worked with patients who had reproductive health issues.
She was aware nursing was not easy, especially with difficult patients and family members to deal with.
She said: "When people are worried or in pain, they won't stop to think whether the nurse has a degree.
"They might think they are paying (for our service) so they can say anything.
"But when things are tense, I want to be able to convey to families that their relatives are in good hands and give them a sense that we have the knowledge to help." - CHEOW SUE-ANN
Mid-career job opportunities in growth sectors
The Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for nursing was launched in February last year under the Adapt and Grow initiative.
It aims to provide mid-career Singaporeans with a pathway to enter the healthcare sector as a registered nurse.
After completing the two-year accelerated course, the 34 trainees will receive a bachelor's degree in nursing and a placement in the healthcare sector.
This PCP is one of the mid-career conversion programmes under the Healthcare PCP umbrella offered by Workforce Singapore (WSG), with the Ministry of Health.
Applications for the August 2019 intake is open until Jan 31.
At the launch last February, WSG chief executive Tan Choon Shian said: "(The programme) is especially important as we strive to meet growing manpower needs in the growth sectors such as healthcare and help mid-career Singaporeans take on new job opportunities in these growth sectors."
Other than nursing, WSG also offers mid-career professional conversion programmes in a variety of sectors, including aerospace, accountancy and precision engineering.
WSG offers professional conversion programmes both for current degree holders as well as mid-career Singaporeans with A-level and diploma qualifications.
More information can be found on the PCP website. - CHEOW SUE-ANN