A/Prof Elaine Siow's passion for teaching strengthened when she was a student in the United States of America (USA)
As a young student, I always aspired to have a career that would allow me to interact with people as opposed to a deskbound job. I considered teaching at first but perhaps, fate had something else in store for me – nursing.
I first came to know about nursing when I saw a Nanyang Polytechnic advertisement promoting nursing sponsorships at one of the healthcare institutions. With the assurance of a job right after graduating from the diploma programme, I was enticed. Thinking ahead, I also thought about the career stability nursing offered. That was how my nursing journey started and I officially joined the profession in 1999.
A/Prof Elaine (second from right) while undergoing her advanced diploma in orthopedics at NYP
After working for a few years in an orthopaedic ward, I found myself gravitating towards this field of nursing. It was no surprise when I decided to pursue an advanced nursing diploma in orthopaedics before returning to the hospital to work in the same department.
Later, I achieved another milestone in my nursing career; I completed my Master of Science in Nursing (Acute Care Nurse Practitioner) from the Pennsylvania State University in the USA. To be honest, I did think about continuing my nursing career in the States. However, my interaction with my professors and teachers rekindled my childhood aspiration of being a teacher.
In fact, this was not the first time that I thought about teaching since becoming a nurse. Back in Singapore, I had the chance to mentor younger nurses and students who were on clinical attachments. With each instance, I felt my passion grew for teaching and making improvements to patient care. Hence, I decided to pursue my PhD in nursing. My role model will always be my PhD supervisor, who patiently guided me through my studies with kindness and compassion.
Turning the classroom into a fun and interactive space
Fast forward to today, I am now the programme leader for the nursing course at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). As an educator, I often try to share my experience as a nurse with my students. I find that drawing examples from real-life case studies helps my students relate better to certain complex concepts.
I have fond memories of traveling with my students during their Overseas Immersion Programme before the pandemic. That was a treat for me as I do not always get to travel and interact with them outside the classroom. Once during the programme, they invited me to their dormitory for dinner and we bonded over the delicious food they cooked… I will never forget precious moments like these throughout my teaching career.
Say cheese! The COVID-19 pandemic did not damper our spirits as we celebrated Chinese New Year (virtually) earlier this year
The pandemic has changed the way we conduct our lessons. Almost overnight, our teaching plans changed and we resorted to online lessons. I prefer physical interactions with my students, as it helps build a rapport with them, get to know them better as well as understand their learning needs. Adapting to these new circumstances was a challenge at first but I was determined to overcome it.
To make lessons more interesting and engaging, I incorporate quizzes, polls, and use interactive vignettes. Most importantly, I had to ensure that students' learning is not affected due to the reduced face-to-face hours.
My name is Elaine Siow, Programme Leader for the Nursing Programme at SIT. I view teaching as a calling to educate and inspire the next generation of students. Just like how my PhD supervisor had been a mentor to me, I hope to do the same for my students so that they can contribute positively to the community.