An engineer by training, Clement Ng, now 63, had worked in the oil and gas industry for 30 years. He had initially worked as an engineer in automation and control, before moving to regional business development and sales.
However, Clement was retrenched in 2016. The retrenchment made him rethink his career choices.
“I was retrenched just before I turned 60. I felt I was too young to retire and wanted to do something that was meaningful,” he said.
Looking back, he had one regret in life – it was being unable to care for his mother because of work. “I had to leave her in the care of a nursing home, in view of my previous work-related travel commitments,” he said.
Clement decided that it was a time for a change. “I wanted to be a nurse and take care of the elderly and sick.”
He signed up for a nursing care course provided by HMI Institute of Health Sciences and worked in a hospital as a healthcare assistant. During this stint, Clement developed an interest and found joy taking care of his patients. He realised that the nursing profession was his calling.
Lifelong learning is never foreign
At the age of 60, Clement applied for a Diploma in Nursing through Workforce Singapore (WSG)’s Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) to enhance his nursing skills and professional knowledge to better care for patients.
PCP for Mid-Career Workers
Mid-career locals can tap on WSG’s PCPs for Nurses and Allied Health Professionals to gain professional qualifications from IHLs to take on roles such as nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and diagnostic radiographers.
Available Healthcare PCPs:
Before nursing school started, Clement had assumed that his foundation in science as well as his Engineering background would able to help him understand the basics of nursing. Instead, what greeted him was a long list of ‘foreign’ words and long hours of study.
“I had left school decades ago and going back to school was challenging. The content was new. The human body is complex, with so many different parts and functions. The nursing vocabulary was totally different from oil and gas,” he adds.
Despite the steep learning curve and the challenge of learning at an older age, Clement was never daunted. In fact, his younger classmates helped him through his student life – “Learning how to relate to younger people by interacting with my younger classmates is an unexpected bonus from attending this course,” he chuckles.
A career filled with memorable experiences
Clement fondly recalls an incident when a patient’s family members noticed that their loved one was well-cared for and happy during his hospital stay and thanked Clement, saying, “Today my dad is shining. He seems so refreshed”.
Clement, a Staff Nurse at St Luke’s Hospital, wanted to do something that was meaningful and became a nurse to take care of the elderly and sick.
Even though the journey was tough, Clement neither doubted his decision to become a nurse nor the need to engage in lifelong learning at an older age.
The search for a second career
Like Clement, Aminah Binte Nor Muhamad, 54, started her journey to become a nurse in her 50s.
Having spent close to two decades teaching English at a Secondary school, Aminah was deliberating a career switch as she wanted a change in working environment. After consulting a career coach at WSG, the healthcare sector seemed to align with her values, interest, personality and skills.
Aminah also actively researched on the healthcare sector and found out more about the nursing profession through her neighbour who is a nurse. She also jumped at the opportunity to shadow a doctor at a clinic where her neighbour worked at to learn more about the profession. Through these experiences, Aminah then took on the leap of faith and enrolled herself in the PCP for Registered Nurses at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP).
Binte Nor Muhamad, mid-career nursing student at NYP
A former Educator in English Language, then a student in Nursing
The tables were then turned – the educator-turned student now had to get used to studying all over again. Recounting her experience, Aminah said that it was challenging at times. For one, she had to change her mindset – seniority in age did not equate to more knowledge. She also learnt that age is not a deterrent to picking up new skills. “It took me a while to get used to learning all over again – after all, I used to be the one teaching,” she laughed.
But Aminah believes that her previous experiences as an educator was relevant to her new role when interacting with patients, particularly because nurses have to communicate effectively with their patients and families about their condition.
While it was already tough to get used to the different teaching styles and the pace of learning, she adds that the COVID-19 pandemic made juggling her responsibilities and her studies extra challenging. “Before COVID-19 struck, I had very clear physical boundaries – I was a student at the NYP campus, and a mother and wife at home. With home-based learning and work from home, it was tough to juggle all these commitments while being in the same physical space with my family,” she says.
Aminah is now in the third semester of her two-year programme and she looks forward to joining The Lentor Residences as a staff nurse upon her graduation from NYP next year.
As of December 2020, there are 6,700 available openings in the Healthcare sector.
Like Aminah and Clementi, mid-career locals can tap on WSG’s PCPs, SGUnited traineeships, attachments and skills training to gain relevant skills and knowledge or acquire relevant qualifications to enter regulated roles such as nurses and allied health professionals.
For job and training opportunities in Healthcare: gov.sg/article/jobsgohere-healthcare