Nursing is the future of healthcare. This belief prompted me to take up the role of Programme Director (Nursing) at the Singapore Institute of Technology.
I did not choose to be a nurse. I was a well-rounded student but did not have a specific career in mind in view of my multiple interests. The idea came to me just before I was due to enrol into university; my elder sister, who was an experienced nurse, introduced me to the profession. As I had done well academically, she thought that nursing science – founded on multidisciplinary sciences and the art of psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and communication – would be perfect for me. However, as much as I enjoyed the course in my first year of university, I was hit with an existential crisis. Did I really want to be a nurse?
It was not until Year 2 when it became clear. As I began practising my skills in the wards, I found great joy in caring for my patients and applying the knowledge I have learnt. I loved every part of nursing – from establishing and maintaining nurse-patient relationships, to developing and implementing care plans to meet my patients’ needs. As we are with our patients 24/7, we are in a privileged and unique position to communicate their needs to other members of the healthcare team, as well as to see first-hand the impact of health and social policies on patients.
When it was time to decide on my path in nursing, I did not hesitate. Of course I would choose teaching! Even as a young child, I loved gathering my playmates in front of me and pretending to be a teacher. I began “teaching” for real in primary school, where I was asked by my teachers to tutor my classmates in subjects such as English, Social Studies, or Mathematics. This continued till I was in university.
I was a nursing educator for 10 years; from 1986 to 1996. Between 1996 and 2015, I helmed other roles at the hospital and national level that involved research, regulation, quality management, public health, and information management. My teaching background and skills helped me to perform these extended roles well as they involved facilitating organisational culture and skills development.
I chose to go back to education after listening to the speech of former Permanent Secretary (Health) Tan Ching Yee. She said: “We have only ourselves to blame if the next generation of healthcare leaders are not ready to lead when the time comes.” Her message resonated deeply with me. Hence, when the opportunity for me to join the Singapore Institute of Technology arose in 2015, I took it up immediately. My present role at the university means a lot as I am able to shape and equip the next generation of nursing leaders, who have the potential to be clinicians, managers, educators, researchers, and informaticians. Combining the nursing and teaching professions also enables me to apply my multidisciplinary interests in the sciences and the arts, as well as mentor my students to make a difference in the patients and communities they care for.
All my students are special to me. At the recent President’s Award for Nurses at the Istana, I met two former students who are now established educators in their own right! It brings me so much happiness to know that they are doing their part in keeping nursing alive for generations to come.
While I did not choose nursing, I chose to remain a nurse even till today. I am A/Prof Genedine Lim, and I believe that nurses will be at the forefront of the healthcare transformation in Singapore.