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Helping Others & a Passion for Humanity: Syasya Nadya Umairah Finds Her Way to a Nursing Degree

Syasya during one of her clinical attachments

During her childhood, nursing student Syasya Nadya Umairah has always been fascinated with medical documentaries. One of Syasya's favourite documentaries was about obstetrics.

She found that she enjoyed learning about the various procedures, and how doctors and nurses work together to provide both mother and child with first-rate care. Although they were a bit confused, why someone so young would be interested in such documentaries, Syasya's parents nevertheless remained supportive.

A Mother's Love

Things would hit close to home when her mother was admitted to the hospital for a major operation.

"My mother had to go for a major surgical procedure when I was in secondary school. Seeing her in such a vulnerable state got to me. The worst part is that all of this happened during my exams, which made it even harder for me to visit my mother. But when I saw her, she always told me to focus on my studies and not come around, which made me anxious."

Syasya and her family

And for someone with such a close relationship with her parents, it was understandably heartbreaking when all of this happened.

But like any good daughter would, Syasya put her head down and worked to get through this challenging time.To help ease Syasya's fears, her mother made it a point to continually reassure her.

"She was always telling me how great her nurses were. She praised them for their caring nature and how they often went the extra mile to make her comfortable. Hearing that eased a lot of my anxiety and let me experience first-hand the good work nurses do for people."

This experience would resonate strongly in Syasya and encourage her to try and make a difference in the world.

Serving Less Fortunate Communities

And she would do just that during her years in poly when she joined a Youth Expedition Project to Myanmar.

This programme saw her based at an orphanage located in the heart of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city. During this time, she taught the orphans English, basic computer skills, and why basic hygiene and food prep skills are important for good health.

But it wouldn't all be smooth sailing. Halfway through her placement in Myanmar, Syasya suddenly developed a fever that left her lethargic and almost delirious.

"I developed a viral infection that made me extremely feverish. After 4 days, my teammates started to worry and it was decided that I had to go to the local clinic. But getting there would be an adventure all on its own."

For starters, Syasya would have to ride on the back of a motorcycle through the busy streets of Yangon, all without a helmet.

When they arrived at the clinic, it was extremely rundown and lacked many facilities. Nevertheless, the medical staff on duty did all they could to treat Syasya and keep her comfortable.

Even with the medications provided by the doctor, Syasya's fever still persisted. And so, she would have to return to the clinic again.

"The second time we got there, I had to get an injection for the fever. I was nervous, but the doctor and nurse helped me through it by telling jokes and trying to get me to laugh. Overall, it was an eye-opening experience for me."

Syasya's time in Myanmar helped her understand the need for competent and dedicated healthcare professionals.

Experiencing the Human Side of Healthcare

Realising that she enjoyed working with people and lending a helping hand, she decided to experience life in the healthcare sector for herself.

And so, Syasya would take up an internship at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). Here, she assumed the role of a Clinical Research Assistant where she was responsible for helping out with collecting data and physical exams during the patient admissions process.

As a people-person, Syasya easily developed an excellent rapport with patients. As a Clinical Research Assistant, Syasya is on the literal frontline of healthcare which exposes her to a variety of different people. Some are friendly and polite where others can be more challenging to deal with.

But for Syasya, this is just part of the job, as she puts it, "When people are admitted to the hospital, most of them are feeling worried or frustrated. So, they can sometimes be unpleasant. But I find that talking to them gently and reassuring them continually makes a big difference. They then calm down and are more than willing to cooperate with me."

Whether it was putting patients at ease or helping them move along, Syasya found herself enjoying every minute at KTPH. She also found herself gravitating towards the hospital's nursing staff.

Many of them took the time to answer her questions and explain procedures that she was interested in. Besides that, their compassionate and cheerful nature resonated strongly with Syasya when she remembered how her mother often praised the nurses who provided post-surgery care.

All of this removed all doubts from Syasya's mind and convinced her that a career in nursing was right for her.

Taking the Next Step Forward at NUS Nursing

Syasya then set out to look into how she could pursue a career in nursing. As she did her research, Syasya , came across the Healthcare Merit Award (HMA). The HMAis a scholarship that is offered to A-Level and Diploma students (other equivalent qualifications are also accepted e.g.  International Baccalaureate (IB) or NUS high school diploma) looking to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Health Science disciplines.

After a successful scholarship application process, Syasya received the scholarship and is currently pursuing her studies at National University of Singapore's (NUS) Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies. Upon her graduation, Syasya will receive a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree with honours.

During her time at NUS, Syasya has participated in numerous academic and co-curricular activities. These included being the vice-captain of the Silat team and overseas community involvement projects (OCIP) in Cambodia.

Syasya and her fellow nursing scholars caught up with her fellow scholars based in the UK. Photo: Singapore Healthcare Society UK, Ireland and USA

One of the highlights of her time at school was a 2022 summer exchange programme at King's College in London. Here, she got the opportunity to stay in London for 3 weeks and even met up with her fellow healthcare scholars based in the UK (through the Singapore Healthcare Society UK, Ireland and USA).

When she was in London, Syasya completed a Psychology module at King's College as part of her exchange programme. The module gave Syasya and her coursemates a deeper understanding of human psychology. It also equipped them with the skills needed to care for patients from both a physical and mental standpoint.

As part of Syasya's clinical attachment, she was posted to Singapore's Orange Valley Nursing Home where she helped care for senior residents. And despite her initial anxiety, it would prove to be a gratifying experience.

"At the nursing home, the senior nurses and my other colleagues were extremely patient with me. They ensured I learnt as much as possible during my time there."

"What really made it even more rewarding was the impact my friends and I had on the residents there. On our last day, some even cried when they said goodbye. And this opened my eyes to our role in our patients' lives."

A Future Paediatrics Nurse

In the future, Syasya has plans to enter the field of paediatrics and family medicine where she hopes to be given the opportunity to treat children and help them along their journey to recovery.

"During my clinical attachment at KK Women's and Children's Hospital as a nursing student, I got the opportunity to work in the paediatrics wing, and it was a very different experience. Most of the time, kids have no idea why they're in the hospital. And it's heart-breaking to see them feel scared and lonely."

"I also saw how the nurses and doctors tried their best to help make them more comfortable, which was both sweet and touching."

For anyone considering a career in the healthcare sector, Syasya says, "There's no point rushing into things because nursing and a career in healthcare calls for passion."

"Do your research and learn as much as you can; make sure that you ask questions. And always try to get as much hands-on experience as you can. So that way, you know exactly what a career in healthcare is like."

Inspired by Syasya's story? If you are, then you may want to consider a career in nursing.

MOH Holdings (MOHH) is currently offering scholarships to nurture the next generation of nursing, pharmacy and allied health professionals. These scholarships are in partnership with public healthcare institutions and allow you to study in local and overseas universities. For more details on the health science disciplines offered, check out this page