If you want something, go get it. Period.
I knew I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a teenager. My mother had been hospitalised with a critical illness, and I witnessed first-hand how the nurses cared for her – from engaging her in little chats to lift her spirits, to meticulous management of her medical condition to ensure she was comfortable. These nurses truly made a difference in my mother’s stay and ignited my interest in nursing.
Unfortunately, my road to nursing was not without its hurdles. My father had a negative impression of males in the profession and protested against my decision to pursue a nursing diploma after my O levels – he thought that nursing is a job only for females! I enrolled into an engineering course to pacify him, but it grew increasingly difficult to remain in a course I had little interest in. After one semester, I transferred to a course on health management and promotion, and inched closer to my original dream of being a nurse.
Zheng An (third from right) and his classmates during a class at the National University of Singapore’s Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (NUS Nursing).
My perseverance eventually paid off. After seeing that my decision was not made on a whim, my father’s stance softened. With his blessings, I enrolled into the National University of Singapore’s Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies after my National Service. I am now a proud first year nursing student and a Healthcare Merit Award scholar.
At my recent attachment at Jurong Community Hospital, I was assigned to provide basic care for my patients. That gave me time to interact and learn more about them as people, instead of just as patients in a hospital. My patients really appreciated that! They would immediately wave to me whenever I entered the ward. I was also gifted with food and hugs at the end of my attachment. Knowing that I have made a difference in their lives reminds me of why I decided to pursue nursing in the first place.
Zheng An (forefront) and his classmates posing on the steps of NUS Nursing.
As a male nurse, I also want to challenge the old-fashioned perception that nursing is only for females. That cannot be further from the truth – both genders can contribute in their own special ways to the profession. I have managed to convince my father of this reality, and I will continue to do so for everyone I meet.
I am Toh Zheng An and I am proud to be a nurse. Care to join me?