“They were like angels,” says Mr Joshua Ting of the nurses who took care of him when he was admitted into a single-bed isolation room at age 13. It was also the moment that inspired him to become a nurse.
The story came full circle nine years later when he returned to the very same ward during a polytechnic attachment stint, reuniting with the nurse who had cared for him at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital when he was young.
“It was really an inspiration to meet her again,” recalls Mr Ting. “I wanted to cry at that moment; it was so surreal.”
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The reunion further cemented his calling to the vocation, inspiring him to apply for the Bachelor of Science with Honours in Nursing, a programme jointly offered by the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and the University of Glasgow.
Currently, the 27-year-old is a full-time staff nurse in the general ward at Alexandra Hospital, which is a part of the National University Health System.
The road to becoming a nurse had not been smooth sailing as Mr Ting’s parents initially objected to his decision to study nursing after O levels. They warned him about the hardships he would have to endure and sacrifices he would have to make as a nurse while encouraging him to pursue business-related studies instead.
Undeterred, he held firm to his convictions and enrolled in Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s nursing diploma programme.
In 2020, Mr Ting picked SIT to further his studies in nursing as it offered a two-year direct-honours programme that allowed him to achieve his aim of becoming a nurse in a shorter time as compared to other schools. The cherry on the cake was the full-term bond-free SIT Scholarship, which he was awarded in the same year.
Receiving the acceptance letter for the scholarship was “the turning point of his life”, he says, as it allowed him to pursue his career of choice without having to worry about finances.
In addition to receiving full coverage of tuition fees, SIT scholars also have access to a specially curated programme consisting of exclusive seminars, workshops and events designed to equip recipients with the skills needed to help them succeed in their careers.
Getting involved on the ground
Throughout his university days, Mr Ting took the initiative to engage in multiple attachments to gain more work experience.
In his first year, he went on an attachment with St Luke’s ElderCare. He got to refine his clinical examination skills at the nursing home.
He also did a clinical placement at a family medicine clinic and conducted a wide scope of duties, including providing provisional diagnoses and initiating treatment plans under a doctor’s supervision.
“SIT places a constant emphasis on applied learning. It isn’t all about theoretical concepts, but the practical aspects too,” says Mr Ting.
Unfortunately, an overseas immersion programme at the University of Glasgow did not materialise because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his second year, Mr Ting worked as a research assistant at SIT. Together with his professor from SIT’s nursing programme, they developed a web-based game that uses real hospital scenarios to enhance the teaching of evidence-based practice for incoming batches of nursing students.
The SIT scholar is currently learning a coding language in his spare time. He hopes to be able to combine his nursing knowledge and newfound tech skills to lessen the workload of nurses.
Beyond the hospital ward
As Mr Ting continues to hone his skills, his long-term goal is to eventually transition to healthcare consulting or policymaking. By having on the ground working experience, it would enable him to have a better understanding of the processes and challenges faced by the healthcare sector.
“There are different specialties in nursing. I would like to take a helicopter view to observe and understand things from a broader perspective,” says Mr Ting, who aspires to make a bigger impact by effecting changes on a macro level.
By paying forward the care that he has received, he hopes to have a lasting positive effect on Singapore’s healthcare landscape.
“Ultimately, my conviction is to do the right thing and be a catalyst today for tomorrow’s transformation,” he says.
“I hope to improve nurse retention and hospital work culture while contributing towards more effective care delivery and a better healthcare experience for patients.”