They were in good jobs, but something happened to make them stop, turn around and make a switch to nursing.
This story was reproduced from the Singapore Health Special Edition on Nursing 2016
By Desmond Ng and Esther Au Yong

Ms Anne Goh, 44, was working in operations in a local bank when she felt the calling to join nursing. She was greatly inspired by how well the nurses had cared for her late father in hospital. Ms Goh was impressed by their competence and moved by their compassion. At that time, she was also having second thoughts about her job at the bank and she was yearning for a more fulfilling career.

So, she quit her job and went for an accelerated diploma course in nursing from 2005 to 2007. The decision shocked her relatives. “Some of them tried to dissuade me but I was determined to make the change. Since then, nursing has opened many doors for me,” said Ms Goh.
Now, with close to 10 years of nursing experience in public hospitals and private dental clinics behind her, Ms Goh is a Staff Nurse with the Operating Theatre (General Anaesthesia) at the National Dental Centre Singapore.
She enjoys the teamwork and camaraderie in the operating theatre, where procedures such as wisdom tooth surgery and implants are done. “Unlike a desk job which can become rather routine, my day revolves around different tasks such as assisting surgeons and anaesthetists, preparing patients for their operations, and taking care of them after their procedures,” she said. Ms Goh’s nursing know-how has also come in handy at home.
"When my son had febrile fits, I would’ve panicked if I wasn’t a nurse. But I knew exactly what to do."
- Ms Anne Goh, Staff Nurse, Operating Theatre (General Anaesthesia), National Dental Centre Singapore
“When my dad was bedridden during his last days, after a stroke, I was able to help my mother understand his condition better.  I taught her techniques in looking after him, like how to transfer him to and from the bed without injuring herself, and how best to prevent bed sores,” she said.
She also remembers the time her elder son had febrile (fever-related) fits as a baby. “When my son had febrile fits, I would’ve panicked if I wasn’t a nurse. But I knew exactly what to do,” she said, adding with a laugh, “My husband was pretty impressed with my nursing skills too.”
What drives her now is the fulfilment she gets from seeing patients recover after their operations. “We always make a follow-up call the day after an operation to see how a patient is doing, and the best response for us is, ‘I’m good!’”
Senior Staff Nurse Poh Ya Nee has a Business Administration degree but has chosen to pursue a career in nursing.
Photo: Alvinn Lim
No regrets
Her career path became crystal clear the day she volunteered at Club Rainbow and helped a cancer-stricken child have fun. Ms Poh Ya Nee, then 25 and armed with a degree in Business Administration (Marketing) from Nanyang Technological University, had a bright future working in a training and consultancy firm.
It was a job with prospects, although she did have a small nagging thought that perhaps she was in the wrong industry, and that perhaps her passion lay elsewhere.
Volunteering at Club Rainbow – an organisation which helps children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, and their families – was an eye-opener. At a three-day camp, she befriended a wheelchair-bound eight-year-old girl with bone cancer.
“I helped her take part in activities and games. I also helped her when she  needed the toilet and during bath time. It was a short volunteering stint but life never felt more meaningful to me. The happiness I got from helping her and the other children was immediate.”
"It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve never felt happier and my family members are also proud of my job and what I do."
- Ms Poh Ya Nee, Senior Staff Nurse, Children’s Intensive Care Unit, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
The experience inspired her to take the leap into nursing. She quit her job and returned to school to pursue an accelerated diploma in nursing from 2006 to 2008, under the Workforce Development Agency’s Healthcare Professional Conversion Programme.
Now a Senior Staff Nurse at the Children’s Intensive Care Unit of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Ms Poh, 36, said: “I didn’t want to have any regrets in life. I knew I had to give nursing a try.
“I’ve always felt that nursing is noble. I’m in such a privileged position now to have a direct and positive impact on the lives of my young patients and their families.”
On her decision to switch careers, she said: “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve never felt happier and my family members are also proud of my job
and what I do.”

Ms Poh (left) was inspired to make the leap into nursing after volunteering at a Club Rainbow camp
Click Here to read more inspiring stories about nurses from the Singapore Health Special Edition on Nursing 2016