Tan Keng Guan

Diploma in Nursing
School of Health & Social Sciences

Tay Eng Soon Award for Health & Social Sciences

I’m 41 years old this year, and Nursing is a mid-career switch for me. For the first 10 years of my career, I worked as an SAF army regular, before joining the Ministry of Home Affairs. After that, I worked as an insurance agent. Then, my father-in-law fell ill. I was one of his caregivers and would accompany him to multiple hospital appointments. 

It was during those visits that I encountered nurses who were reassuring and forthcoming. They were also knowledgeable about medication and could answer all my queries. They were also the ones with the most touch points with their patients, so they could provide good quality care.

I started to seriously think about a switch to the healthcare industry as a nurse.

As I did not have any nursing background, I spent two years taking up a Nitec in Nursing course from the Institution of Technical Education (ITE) in 2016. Upon graduating, I took up a Diploma in Nursing at NYP.

NYP was where I let my interest and goals take the lead. The curriculum was packed but I looked forward to learning something new each day.

My clinical attachments also helped me to gain exposure to different aspects of Nursing. For example, during my attachments at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, I worked in different types of wards, including Neurology and Cardiology. I treated every patient as a unique individual and would think of customised care plans for each one.

Although I am older than my classmates, we get along well. I enjoy having meals with them, and we’d have the most insightful chats. I would share that knowledge and skills can be learnt in school, but you must cultivate a positive attitude. 

Looking back, my upgrading journey hasn’t been easy. I juggled part-time work and studies. When I was in ITE, I drove a taxi part-time. At NYP, I worked as a part-time nursing aide, where I would go to patients’ homes to attend to their medical needs. 

But I’m glad my family members have been really supportive of my studies, especially my in-laws, and my wife who works as an executive in the maritime industry.

I currently work as a staff nurse at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). I hope to do a part-time degree in future, and aspire to be an advanced practice nurse where I can manage and care for more complex cases.