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Reliving the nursing dream


Enrolled Nurse Kaliyaperumal Vijayalakshmi from Sengkang General Hospital

I have always had a strong passion for nursing, and a calling in me to help others in need. My nursing school seniors have been very nurturing and inspiring as well, motivating me even more to pursue this career.

When I needed to take care of my three young children back in 2004, I was faced with a very difficult decision. I sadly had to put a pause on my nursing career and become a stay-home mother for my family. Fast forward over a decade, I chanced upon the Return-to-Nursing (RTN) programme in 2021. Seeing that my children were in secondary school and independent, I decided to re-enter the nursing force. My family was very supportive of this big move and had encouraged me to go for it.

A group of women in pink shirtsDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

EN Vijayalakshmi with her classmates at the Return-to-Nursing course

During the three-month RTN programme at SingHealth's Alice Lee Institute of Advanced Nursing, I realised that a lot has changed ever since I left the job. The nursing procedures are different now, and technology has advanced—nurses are well-trained in the use of the latest medical equipment too! It was challenging for me to pick up new medical terminology and products initially, but with the help of my tutors in the programme as well as friendly colleagues and supervisors at work, I was able to adapt quickly and perform my duties well.

The RTN programme also brought me a sense of nostalgia and reminded me of my college days. I am glad to have met a lovable group of friends who, like myself, had to give up their nursing career at one point but fell in love with it all over again when we returned!

Today, as an enrolled nurse at Sengkang General Hospital, I feel like I am reliving my nursing dream, and feel grateful to my colleagues who are always willing to lend me a helping hand. My seniors are great at showing me the ropes and guiding me so that I can work well independently.

I cherish the times when I can still provide care for patients—very often, little conversations with them still touch my heart. I recall an elderly patient who required a bedside procedure, she told me that she was impressed with my nursing knowledge and warmth. She was pleasantly surprised that I was only six months into the job ever since I returned to nursing. Her compliments truly meant the world to me, it motivated me to do better and reinforced my decision to return to the workforce.

After a 17-year hiatus, I'm happy that I made the right choice to resume my nursing career so that I can put my clinical knowledge to good use, and help make a difference in other people's lives. I hope that former nurses out there who still hold the same passion as me, will also re-ignite their love for the profession. To provide care for patients with compassion and empathy, this is something perhaps only a nurse will understand.

My name is Kaliyaperumal Vijayalakshmi, and I am proud to have returned to nursing.

To find out more about the Return-to-Nursing programme, visit