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Like mother, like daughter


From engineering to nursing… meet Senior Staff Nurse Serena Ong from Sengkang General Hospital

At 68, my mother has been a nurse for over forty years. Naturally, many assumed that I was going to follow her footsteps and become a nurse too… they were right! I did join nursing, but only after a four-year stint in the oil and gas industry. My former job did not give me the sense of satisfaction I was yearning for. Hence, I decided to revisit my childhood aspiration of being a nurse.  

In fact, nursing might just be my first love. Growing up, my mother would recount stories of her work to my brother and me. In some instances, we would accompany her to one of the nursing homes where she volunteers regularly. I remember feeding and talking to the residents there, and find it especially meaningful when they share their stories with us – it really brought smiles to their faces.

I had a little sneak peek of nursing during my secondary school days. Back then, I joined the St John Ambulance Brigade as one of my extra-curriculum activities. I had the chance to volunteer in a hospital and assisted the nurses in providing basic care to patients. Once, one of the nurses came up to me and commented that nursing might be suitable for me!

Ironically, when I told my mother about my intention of pursuing nursing after O levels, she suggested I try something else instead. That was how I ended up in engineering first. Thankfully, she did not object to the idea this time round.

In 2015, I enrolled in the Professional Conversion Programme for Registered Nurses (currently known as Career Conversion Programme) by Workforce Singapore. That marked the beginning of my two-year journey at Nanyang Polytechnic to complete my nursing diploma. Since my graduation in 2017, I have been working in Sengkang General Hospital (SKH).

Every day is an interesting day as a nurse!

Today, as a senior staff nurse in a medical ward, I work closely with allied health professionals and doctors to provide holistic care for our patients. As part of my daily routine, I partake in morning ward rounds with other healthcare professionals. Some of the things I do during these rounds include making recommendations on patients' treatment plans, administering medication, taking patients' vital signs and more.

Nurses also ensure the continuity of care for patients after being discharged. For me, I get to educate patients' caregivers and families on how they should care for their loved ones at home. In addition, I assist patients with putting up referrals to community support facilities as required. If a patient requires follow-up treatments and appointments, I will assist him or her with it too.

Certainly, nursing is not an easy feat but what I enjoy most about it is getting to work with my colleagues in the ward. We would help each other out through tough times and work together to achieve a common goal of helping patients.

I vividly recall the first patient who was admitted to SKH in 2018 during our opening phase. While she passed on eventually due to her medical condition, it made me realise one thing about nursing: how nurses work together to provide our patients with maximum comfort and support during their final moments. This, to me, makes nursing special.

The mother-daughter nursing duo

Throughout my nursing journey, my mother has been my best mentor. She helps me understand nursing concepts as well as how nurses can provide care to their patients. Now that I am a nurse too, we have more in common to talk about!

Thankfully, neither of us faced any major challenges during this pandemic. Our friends and family have also been supportive of what we do. I'm glad that we are always there to look out for one another and remind each other to take extra precautions at work.

I am Senior Staff Nurse Serena Ong from Sengkang General Hospital. Nursing resonates well with my innate desire of wanting to help people and make an impact on someone's life. Just like how my mother had passed on her nursing knowledge to me and inspired my journey, I would like to do the same for others too.