Mis’Rohaiza Amin (middle) with a group of students after a class.
As the saying goes, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. Ngee Ann Polytechnic nursing lecturer Mis’Rohaiza Amin, who has been molding future generations of nurses for the past 15 years, resonates with this statement. As with all nursing educators, Mis’Rohaiza plays an important role in grooming nursing students for the bigger challenges they will face as registered nurses.
The Care To Go Beyond team had the chance to sit down (virtually) with this bubbly mother of four who is currently pursuing her second master’s degree in palliative care nursing – while still teaching full-time. Mis’Rohaiza shares her thoughts on being on the front lines of nursing education. Her story, below.
“Around my students, I often feel like their mother, especially when I nag about their crumpled uniforms or their homework. As soon-to-be nurses, my students must understand that nursing is a profession that deals with lives… they must be disciplined enough to uphold the integrity and professionalism of a nurse. Otherwise, it will be hard to dispel common misconceptions of nursing being a lowly profession.
Frankly, my decision to join nursing was met with blatant objection from my mother, who wanted me to become a teacher. Instead of giving up on my ambition, I hatched a plan with my sister and applied for a nursing diploma at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) after my O levels. When my mother found out, she was extremely upset! However, I managed to demonstrate the value of having a nurse in the family after she suffered a severe stroke. She did not show it but I know for a fact that she feels more comfortable having me around for her medical appointments… Asian mothers don’t say it lah (laughs).
Before teaching, I spent fourteen years as a nurse at the National University Hospital (NUH) medical-surgical units. In between, I continuously upgraded myself, taking on an advanced and post-graduate diploma, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. With my qualifications and experiences on the ground, I had the opportunity to helm a senior nursing role; advancing to the clinical, management and education track. There, I had ample avenues to mentor my juniors and peers. I didn’t know it then, but these instances ignited my passion for teaching. In 2005, I made a life-changing move and ventured into education.
As a lecturer, I have to think of ways to keep lessons fun for my students. With most lessons conducted online these days, this becomes even more challenging. I have to brainstorm for ideas to keep my students engaged, especially since they have a shorter attention span online. One of the ways I came up with was using play dough to conduct live demonstration on injection techniques. Such demonstrations also helped some of my students who had to be recalled from their clinical sessions due to COVID.
As a current student myself, I step into my students’ shoes to refine my teaching methods according to their likes and dislikes. One thing I’m sure of is that my students enjoy hearing stories about my days as a nurse. Hearing me recount these experiences also helps them grasp certain concepts better.
My teaching philosophy is deeply influenced by my own nursing lecturer in polytechnic, Ms Pauline Chia who spent a great deal of effort to learn more about her students and connect with them on a personal level. I had not been feeling my best when my mum suffered a stroke, and Ms Chia acted as a pillar of support, checking up on me constantly. Now, when I meet troubled students, I take the time to understand them and do my best to provide encouragement. Due to COVID, I do not get to physically meet my students as often, so I make it a point to remain connected with them through WhatsApp messages or video calls. A fun fact: Ms Chia and I became colleagues when I returned to my alma mater as an educator!
As educators, we may not be on the front lines but we play an integral role in the healthcare family. What we do behind the scenes has a ripple effect on the profession. Seeing my students grow in confidence and gain competence – from the time they step into the school to graduating as an independent individual who manages patients’ lives – is very fulfilling. On Teacher’s Day itself, my phone was buzzing non-stop from the greetings by my students. Such gestures remind me of where my students once were, and how they have grown now.
Some study tips for my students: Always remember that consistency is key. There is no such thing as a stupid question, so do not be shy to ask me and clear your doubts! I don’t eat people, just chocolates (laughs). There may be times when your days can get challenging, but do not let it get to you. All the best!