Nurse clinician (NC) Tang Yip Chong is one of the longest-serving staff at Bright Hill Evergreen Home (BHEH). NC Tang joined BHEH as a Staff Nurse in the year 2000 after retiring at age 60 as a Nurse Manager at the Institute of Mental Health. In 2015, he was part of the BHEH’s 11-member team on a study trip to Japan, learning from the nursing homes in Tokyo and Okinawa. In 2016, NC Tang was awarded the Nurses’ Merit Award by the Ministry of Health.
At BHEH, NC Tang now mainly conducts training for the nursing staff. An octogenarian, he is still passionate about contributing to our community.
Here, we chat with NC Tang.
Evergreen: Tell us a bit about yourself.
NC Tang: I am 83 years old and married to my lovely wife, Swee Geok for 55 years now. I have two daughters, a son and three grandchildren. One of my daughters works in the Finance industry and the other in Healthcare. My son is also in the Healthcare sector and is currently the Deputy CEO of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. For leisure, I listen to classical music and brisk walk. I also like to collect stamps and old banknotes. My favourite food is chilli crab, and my favourite haunt is Zhongshan Park at Balestier Road.
Evergreen: Why a career choice in nursing?
NC Tang: I naturally like giving care to others. When I was a child, I had to go to the hospital after my toe got infected after a cut. The doctor gave me medicine and a nurse did the dressing for me. I was touched by her gentle and attentive demeanour. Her attitude towards patient care inspired me and I remember telling myself I want to be like her. After my high school studies at Catholic High School, I attended the School of Nursing, and graduated in 1965, and then further to the Operating Theatre Course and graduated in 1972.
Evergreen: Male nurses must be very uncommon then. Were there many nay-sayers about your choice of career?
NC Tang: Of course! My friend asked why I chose a “sissy” job. I was even very shy when I first put on the white uniform, but my passion to want to care for others pushed me on. Slowly, I began to feel very proud wearing a nurse’s uniform, until now.
Evergreen: What was the most memorable incident when you first started as a nurse in the 1960s?
NC Tang: It was my first posting as a mental nurse at the Woodbridge Hospital (now the Institute of Mental Health). I was chased by a gigantic and aggressive patient. I would not be able to overcome him on my own. So, I distracted him by making him run after me around the field just outside the ward while shouting for help. It was a horrifying experience for me as a young nurse!
Evergreen: What are some of the differences between nursing then and now?
NC Tang: Oh, it was very primitive then. Take an example, the injection needles, we would reuse them after sterilising them, and even sharpening them manually when they became blunt! For surgery, a big opening was cut, but now we have pin-hole surgery and even getting robots to assist in the operating theatre. Even in our nursing home, we have Dexie (the humanoid robot) to assist in residents’ exercises and engagement.
Evergreen: What would be your advice to the young nurses?
NC Tang: Don’t let stereotypes prevent you from following your passion. With technological advancements, the process of care is ever-changing and so we must embrace learning. Continue to contribute in the area of your choice, till you are not able to. Like me, I am still healthy and want to continue to support the nursing home as much as I can!