COVID-19 introduced us to many novelties, but it also threw into sharp relief the everyday structures we took for granted – like our healthcare system. With the pandemic, we were reacquainted not only with the resilience of this social safety net, but also the many noble individuals dedicated to ensuring the integrity of its support.
During lockdown, many took to their balconies and corridors to show their appreciation for our healthcare workers. For some, it incited in them a passion to contribute in the same capacity. If you are thinking of joining the healthcare sector and making a difference in the lives of others, read on on how you can do a mid-career switch to healthcare in Singapore.
Pros of working in healthcare
If anything, the pandemic has highlighted an interesting fact: the healthcare sector will always need you. Be it your compliance to public health guidelines, your donations through #SGUnited, or your dedication as a healthcare staff, your support is always welcome.
The constantly expanding healthcare sector works to your advantage – not only will you have a range of great job opportunities to choose from, you also have job stability. In tumultuous times like these, such reassurances can go a long way towards planning your future.
With the average Joe (i.e., you and me) spending about 30% of our lives at work, you will want to make sure that you are making meaningful use of your time. In healthcare, you know that you will be getting just that. From bringing a life into the world, saving another, or simply making sure that one can leave this world in peace, the work of healthcare professionals will touch the lives of many – including your own. Such acts of good are not siloed either: they ripple out into the community, uplifting the lives of others like the patient’s family and friends.
The healthcare scene is also never dull. There’s a reason why many films and shows are inspired by real healthcare workers – the ever-changing landscape literally makes for a good plot. No matter the pace of work or environment, you will be handling so many different kinds of patients and cases that you will never get bored.
Cons of working in healthcare
But just like in any industry, there are downsides. Since the pandemic, we have heard of the exodus of healthcare professionals, and three commonly cited pain points: burnout, lack of recognition, and uncompetitive pay.
COVID-19 might have deepened the fault lines in the sector, but it certainly did not cause it. Manpower shortage and unprotected time off were key factors in healthcare workers’ burnout. Not only were they constantly on their feet physically administering care, but they were also giving their patients the emotional care that families were unable to provide in the midst of the pandemic. Coupled with a lack of recognition (for example, nurses were often regarded as lesser than their other medical counterparts) and a low pay, this exodus is unsurprising.
But does it have to be this way? In light of these occupational stressors, healthcare professionals have also adapted – some are turning to agencies and organisations like Homage, who recognise their passion in caring and return this with a competitive salary, flexible work schedules, and a more balanced pace of work.
Healthcare career options in Singapore
When you think ‘healthcare’, you might have been daunted by the images of physicians and specialists. Well, in reality, you don’t always have to go big or go home. Physicians and medical specialists have spent many years – some even half their lives – in training, time that you have used to hone skills in other crafts. So why not leverage on what you already have to guide your foray into healthcare?
1. Professional Caregiver
Becoming a caregiver can be a great stepping stone to other healthcare specialisations. It’s also a particularly attractive role for a mid-career switch as you do not need to be medically-trained.
Your job scope will involve supporting patients with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as feeding, dressing, and mobility assistance. If your passion burns brightest when you’re helping others, this is your calling – many find being a professional caregiver fulfilling as it makes a huge and direct impact on the everyday wellbeing of their patients.
To become a professional caregiver, you will need to have some basic caregiver skills under your belt. Fret not though, as there are several training courses that you can take in your own time. Find out more about the affordable caregiving courses you can take here.
💸 Get $100 course reimbursement when you join Homage
Join us as a Homage Care Pro today!
If you are ready to dig in a couple of years of training, why not consider being a nurse? Under Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Career Conversion Programmes (CCP), you can consider the CCP for Enrolled Nurses or CCP for Registered Nurses, where funding will be provided by WSG, MOH, and a co-sponsoring organisation. Find out more information and which CCP will best suit you here. You may also find out other mid-career courses and subsidies available here.
A nurse’s role is broader than that of a caregiver, as you will be performing some procedures that only licensed nurses can perform, like tube insertions and injections. Your job scope will include supporting patients with ADLs and providing common home nursing care like tube/catheter care and cannulation.
If you already have a valid Singapore Nursing Board License and a valid Basic Cardiac Life Support + Automated External Defibrillator (BCLS + AED) certificate, you can apply to various healthcare institutions in Singapore.
Working as a Nurse in Singapore: Hospital vs Nursing Home vs Home Care
The hospital environment has a reputation for being very high-paced and stressful. A good alternative to consider is to be a freelance nurse where you can attain the same level of fulfilment, minus the burnout. Unlike the hospital, a freelance role gives you control of your schedule, so you can provide high quality care, at your own pace. Find out more about being a Homage nurse here!
Physiotherapists don’t only help people with movement after an injury or a fall, but they also help to relieve pain and improve muscle strength, joint range, and mobility.
As a physiotherapist, you will treat your patients’ injury, disease, or disorders using movement-centric or external means like exercise, massage, and manipulation, instead of medication and surgery.
Just like nurses, physiotherapists need to be registered and go through relevant training to be qualified for the role. If you’re interested, look up The Career Conversion Programme for Allied Health Professionals (CCP-AHP), which is a mid-career conversion programme that can help and support you to receive the requisite training to be a physiotherapist.
You may also apply to be a freelance, short-term, or full-time physiotherapist with Homage. Find out more here.
4. Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists help their patients develop and maintain the capacity to perform day-to-day tasks and live more productively. We don’t often appreciate the independence that comes with mobility, but it’s always reassuring to know that if (or when) everyday tasks become difficult, there are people out there who can help us make the most of the circumstance.
As an occupational therapist, you will design treatment programmes for patients with disabilities or who grapple with mental and psychosocial challenges. You will help them address their needs and work towards their goals, which will allow them to live more independently and reintegrate with life at home, work, and society.
Similar to a physiotherapist, a mid-career switch to an occupational therapist is within reach! Check out the The Career Conversion Programme for Allied Health Professionals (CCP-AHP), which can fund and support you in attaining the relevant qualifications.
Mid-Career Switch: Courses and Subsidies in Singapore 
Tips for a successful mid-career switch
Whether you are eager, cautious, or merely curious about changing your career, it can be helpful to keep in mind that change doesn’t need to be all-at-once. A mid-career switch is a big undertaking, and it might give you clarity to view it in phases: less a switch, more of a transition.
1. Take stock
If you are still considering making that leap, now might be a great time to get your bearings. Evaluate your current job satisfaction – are you where you want to be? How content are you right now, and is your work giving you a sense of fulfilment? To help guide your thoughts, keep a journal of your daily reactions and emotions to your job situation and look for recurring themes. What made your heart sing? What dissatisfactions irk you? What are you good at doing and what constantly puts you in a rut? Note this all down for about a month.
Using what you’ve noted in your journal, distill your interests, values and skills. You now know what you like and dislike, which you can use to create a list of pros and cons that will determine whether you should stay or not. You should also be able to assess what your core values and skills are, which will help in guiding you towards a career that you will enjoy.
2. Consider alternative careers
With a better understanding of yourself, you can now match your qualities with what’s available out there. It goes without saying that there will be tons of options, so you have to narrow the playing field. Do the arts engage you? Consider a career in the creative industry. Looking for something that warms your heart? Healthcare might be right up your alley.
For a better sense of what you might like, try out some free career aptitude and assessment tests or engage the help of a career coach.
3. Do your research
Once you’ve got the broad picture of what industry you are interested in, it’s time to dig deeper. Check out the job options in your preferred industry – it can be helpful to pull out a spreadsheet allowing you to clearly list out the various roles, what they entail, and their requirements.
From here, hold yourself out against this spreadsheet – have you got any relevant skill sets that you can bring to the table? Transferable skills can be your life buoy when attempting a mid-career switch, so don’t discount the importance of soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and empathy!
When conducting this phase of research, you might also want to tap into your current network. Reach out to any personal contacts in these sectors, and arrange for a chat to learn more. You might be surprised, but people are often very willing to share more about their jobs. Depending on your relationship with this person, you can also ask them for recommendations on where you can start, and if this role will suit you.
Feeling brave? LinkedIn can be your best friend. Google some individuals currently in the roles you’ve set your heart on, and drop them a message. As always, the worst that can happen is a no-reply. But even then, plenty of other friendlier fishes in the sea!
4. Chart your path
You know what you want – now you need a plan to get there. Take stock of where you are, and check job descriptions to figure out what requirements you will need to fulfil. Remember, things don’t have to happen immediately. As with all big changes, you’ll need to think about real-world considerations as well before you hand in your letter.
Freelancing during your off hours is a great way to bridge a skill gap while maintaining financial stability. If you are interested in healthcare, you can try out being a professional caregiver or a non-hospital nursing role in a freelance capacity! This allows you to test your interest, while giving you on-the-ground experience about the job you are keen to take on.
Need specific training for your roles? You will need to plan for this as well. In some cases, you will be able to change careers without going back to school, but if you’re looking at specialist roles, things might be a bit trickier. On the plus side, the government has put a lot of effort into supporting individuals with mid-career switches (like the CCP-AHP programme above), so do check out all the mid-career switch courses and subsidies available!
5. Get the ball rolling
If you’ve fulfilled the requirements on the job description – remember, you don’t need to have all the requirements to apply, just the main ones.
Just like in every job hunt process, it all starts with your resume. Update your skills, and compare to the job postings to list out accomplishments aligned with what the employer is looking for. Remember to include any relevant freelancing or volunteering experience!
When submitting your application, ensure to write a cover letter that reflects your aspirations and motivations. Never discount past experience – no matter how different your current job is from the one you are applying for, there will always be skills that map across these industries.
Is making a mid-career switch to healthcare worth it?
So at the end of the day, is making a mid-career switch to healthcare worth it? If you have a passion for helping others and want to make a tangible difference to society, joining the healthcare industry will certainly make you feel fulfilled. However, as with any job, it’s important to know what to expect as a healthcare worker in Singapore. There will be challenging days where you will feel like giving up, but as a healthcare worker, it’s exceptionally important to remain resilient, and to remind yourself of why you joined the profession in the first place.
How a Banking & Finance Professional Made the Career Transition to Professional Caregiving in her 40s
When making the transition into a different career, remember that change takes time. Take heart in the process, and be patient with yourself. With the great number of opportunities out there, there will always be space for you. Good luck!
- Gettysburg College. (n.d.). One third of your life is spent at work. Gettysburg College. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www.gettysburg.edu/news/stories?id=79db7b34-630c-4f49-ad32-4ab9ea48e72b
- Hui, J. (n.d.). How to be a Professional Caregiver in Singapore (No Experience Needed!). Homage. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://www.homage.sg/resources/professional-caregiver-singapore/
- JobStreet. (2022, March 10). 5 reasons to work in healthcare – SG. JobStreet. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www.jobstreet.com.sg/career-resources/plan-your-career/5-reasons-work-healthcare/
- Mitchell, C. (2022, March 15). What do Physiotherapists do? HealthTimes. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://healthtimes.com.au/hub/physiotherapy/8/guidance/cm/what-do-physiotherapists-do/467/
- Yip, C., & Chia, L. (2022, April 28). Why some healthcare workers in Singapore’s hospitals have quit — and others soldier on. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/cna-insider/why-healthcare-workers-singapore-hospitals-resignations-2647746