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Committed to care

While fellow nursing classmates buried their noses in books at night, Ms Koh Zuo En would be conducting private tuition classes at her students’ homes. This routine left her too fatigued to cope with assignments.

The Bachelor of Science (Nursing) (Honours) undergraduate had needed a part-time job to fund her university fees then. Her finances used to be so tight that spending on hardcopy textbooks or equipment like a stethoscope was considered a luxury.

In a bid to redirect her focus back to her studies, Ms Koh applied for a MOH Holdings midterm scholarship through Bright-Sparks, a scholarship portal.

In March 2018, she was awarded the MOH Holdings Community Nursing Scholarship, which freed her from financial burdens and set her on the path to a career in nursing.

“With the scholarship, I feel more secure knowing that I don’t have to worry about finances and can concentrate on my classes and clinical attachments,” she says.

Today, the 22-year-old saves on travel time by staying on campus, which provides a more conducive environment for studying.

Learning and developmental opportunities are also aplenty for scholars like Ms Koh. Besides travelling to Cangyuan in China’s Yunnan province to perform health screenings and give hygiene lessons to children, she also had the opportunity togive back in scholar-exclusive community involvement programmes in local nursing homes and hospitals too.

Personal experience with caregiving
Ms Koh’s experience as a caregiver for her late grandmother, who was diagnosed with anal cancer, shaped her views about the importance of nursing care and sparked her interest in geriatrics before she entered the National University of Singapore. The wide exposure she later received as a scholar further affirmed this belief. “The best thing about the skills and knowledge you gain, is that they can be applied to many aspects of your life,” she says.

“Also, seeking medical care can be an intimidating experience. My nursing background helps me to reassure family members who are ill to better understand their care plan and make better decisions.”

In two years, Ms Koh will graduate and embark on a six-month training in an acute hospital. She will then join community hospital St Luke’s Hospital as a staff nurse to focus on rehabilitative care.

“I look forward to working in a healthcare team to help patients improve their quality of life,” she says.

“Nothing feels more rewarding than allaying anxieties of senior patients and knowing they feel more assured when you speak the same language as them,” says the second-year nursing student, who is conversant in Hokkien and Teochew dialects, and can speak some Malay.