Never too old to learn

November 2017

At 56 years old, Nurse Clinician Hafizah Ismail from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) was one of the oldest graduates at her nursing degree course this year. Despite her age, she did not feel awkward among her younger classmates. In fact, they consulted her during discussions because of her wealth of experience – it was a two-way learning experience.

Pursuing a nursing degree had always been in Hafizah's mind, but family commitments as a mother of three meant that she had to put her aspirations on the back burner. The desire arose again when IMH's Chief Nurse Samantha Ong encouraged senior nurses to study and upgrade themselves. With that, Hafizah resolved to take up the challenge of studying for a degree after more than 20 years away from books.

"My family has been very supportive. I was a little worried when I first applied for my degree course. I was talking to my eldest son about my concerns during his graduation ceremony and he assured me that everything would be fine. He made me wear his mortarboard and told me that it will be my turn soon," she said with a smile.

Nursing is Hafizah's first job and she has been a nurse for 33 years. "I've always liked to help people since secondary school and decided to choose nursing," she said. When she had to indicate her specialty, she picked psychiatric nursing despite the stigma attached to it in the past because she found it interesting and wanted to do something different.

"Nursing can be challenging sometimes. However, I get extreme satisfaction when I build good rapport with my patients, and see them looking so much better when they are discharged. Just the other day, a patient came to me and told me happily that she was getting better. I felt very contented. It's the little things that matter," Hafizah beamed.