I’m an Ah Ma and a nurse!

February 2019

“Do you think you can do it, Mummy?” my daughter asked.

That was the response from my family when they heard I was going back to school at the age of 53. My daughter was concerned that I would have difficulty adapting to student life after such a long time away from school though I count myself lucky to be blessed with supportive family members who never once doubted my passion for nursing and lifelong learning.

Jinna (second from left) with her family during a Chinese New Year celebration.

My nursing journey began in 1984 as a state enrolled nurse. I had always believed in lifelong learning, and it was my passion for the profession that fueled the flame to continue broadening my horizons. That opportunity came knocking on my doors soon enough. I was selected for a sponsorship, which was offered by SingHealth Polyclinics and the Ministry of Health, to enrol for a Certificate in Bridging Studies and thereafter, a Diploma in Nursing – both at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP).

In the beginning, I was slightly hesitant. Accepting this sponsorship meant that I would have to sacrifice a fair bit of my time and juggle my roles as a single mother, grandmother and a student. However, I knew that this short-term sacrifice would also mean that countless patients would benefit from better care in the long term. With that thought in mind and encouragement from my then nurse manager at Bukit Merah Polyclinic, I grabbed my golden ticket for a shot at becoming a full-fledged nurse.

They say the first step is always the hardest; indeed it was. For one, being a senior student meant that it would be harder to grasp certain concepts. In addition, I am not as savvy when it comes to technology. I had to enlist my daughter’s help for things like accessing my e-books and preparation of my presentation slides. Funnily, my daughter was in her second year of studies then while I was only in my first.

Before school started, I wondered if I could get along with my younger classmates. You know what? I did. In fact, two of my closest friends in school are both still in their teens. Being around them makes me feel young again!

Once, we went for a camp organised by NYP’s School of Health Sciences Club, where we had to do several outdoor activities such as the flying fox and rock climbing. I was in complete disbelief when I could complete them all. I even climbed a coconut tree during the camp. Who said a 55-year-old ah ma like me can’t be this active?

Jinna (second from left) performing during the Nanyang Polytechnic Open House in 2018.

The highlight of my student life so far would be my three-week internship stint in Tochigi, Japan, in 2018. The knowledge and experience gained during the attachment were the best souvenirs I got from that trip. I will never forget the time our commute from Tokyo to the Tochigi prefecture was delayed because of a typhoon. I have never experienced such an incident before!

Whenever I am on my student attachments, my patients and their relatives would mistake me as my classmates’ lecturer. It tickles me each time this happens. I would laugh it off and explain to them that I am just a mature nursing student in training.

My name is Jinna Chin, a third year nursing student from Nanyang Polytechnic. In the future, I hope to pursue further studies in gerontology, become a patient navigator and do my part for society. The sky is the limit; if you cannot change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails. Do not let age stop you from pursuing your dreams!