SINGAPORE - Mr Fiqri Nur Haziq Abu Bakar became a nurse during the Covid-19 pandemic and was plunged straight into front-line work.
The 21-year-old graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic last year and spent six months from April last year caring for migrant workers infected with Covid-19 at a community care facility as hundreds of cases emerged daily in dormitories.
His next move was to a private nursing home, where he was in charge of 15 elderly residents. He was there for a month and was scratched, kicked and spat at while carrying out his duties. But he takes it all in his stride.
It has been an intense experience, but a fulfilling one for him. He said of his motivation for becoming a nurse: "I wanted to touch lives."
Mr Fiqri was among 59 recipients of a Public Service Commission (PSC) scholarship for 2020 and 2021 at a virtual ceremony on Wednesday (July 28).
He said his experience with migrant workers during his nursing stint made him see how much they had in common with Singaporeans, such as a strong work ethic, and he is keen to contribute to improving the safety and health of such vulnerable groups of people. As a result, he intends to major in social work and public health at the National University of Singapore.
Mr Fiqri's road to the scholarship was not a smooth one.
He almost did not become a nurse, for one.
He said: "On the last day of a clinical placement during my first year at polytechnic, I was ready to quit because I did not do well in applying the skills I learnt in school."
But one patient changed his mind.
He had walked over to the elderly patient, who had earlier refused to eat his birthday cake, to ask him if he wanted it.
"The man told me that he had been waiting for me to end my shift so that we could have the cake together," said Mr Fiqri, whose cousin and aunt are also in the healthcare sector.
He added: "That made me realise how the little things we did as nurses can help change the lives of our patients."
Mr Fiqri said that as he was in the Normal stream, he did not know applying for a PSC scholarship was possible until he received an invitation from the agency to do so.
He said: "I hope this inspires other students from Normal streams and to let them know that they are not at a disadvantage."