MORE than half-century ago, Goh Teck Koon became a nurse at a time when it was almost unheard of for men to join the profession, and when it did not have the best image.
But he did not care. It did not stop him.
He recalls: “People used to ask ‘Why did you go into nursing? It’s a dirty job, you have to clean up patients, clean up their mess’.”
His reply then was simple and he still holds it close to his heart: There is nothing so nice as nursing.
Hearing about Mr Goh’s first brush with nursing, it is almost a surprise that he decided to stay working in healthcare for more than half a century.
Today, he remains a role-model although he retired in December at the age of 75 after 54 years in the nursing profession. His final role was to teach the next generation of nursing professionals as a clinical educator.
But Mr Goh told Channel News Asia he will not be turning his back on healthcare. CPR training mannequins look set to continue to be more a part of his life than relaxing walks in the park.
He was a founding member of the then-Singapore National Resuscitation Council, now known as the Singapore Resuscitation & First Aid Council (SRFAC). His work with them will be taking centre-stage.
“I’ll continue when I retire, I will do a bit of auditing for our council, and also some of these private companies will ask me to teach because I am a chief instructor,” he said.
His exemplary work is definitely appreciated. The dozens of farewell cards left on his table at Changi General Hospital (CGH) and the legacy he leaves behind show that his colleagues – and the profession to which he has dedicated his life – will surely miss him.
He was also an advocate for other nurses when they were at risk of not getting enough rest. At the time, nurses might work the night shift from Monday to Sunday, then get a “sleeping day”, one more day off and then return to work the next day.
He proposed to the Ministry of Health (MOH) that a better approach would be that they should work four nights, then get three days of rest including one sleeping day. The ministry rejected the idea on the basis of a lack of manpower.
“We did our own pilot project. We took a ward roster and planned it out with the existing staff. We submitted it to them, and they approved. After that, (the norm) became four nights,” he said, sounding triumphant at the recollection.
Now he’s a little more relaxed and his weekends will be spent on giving refresher lessons to doctors from private clinics, as that is when they have more free time.
Mr Goh is a genuine example of an extraordinary male nurse. A profession, after 54 years that still holds very close to his heart:
‘Goh’ for it: There is nothing so nice as nursing.