SINGAPORE - At first, Ms Victoria Teoh wanted to be a doctor, but learning about how closely nurses work with patients made her change her mind. "I wanted to walk with the patient on the road to recovery," she said. "Suddenly, nursing made more sense to me."
On Wednesday, the former Temasek Junior College student received the top-tier Healthcare Merit Scholarship. She will be reading nursing at the National University of Singapore.
The 19-year-old was one of 283 health-care scholarship recipients this year - the highest number since 2009.
The 261 undergraduate and 22 postgraduate scholarship holders will go on to pursue careers in different aspects of health care. The Ministry of Health received some 1,640 applications for the health-care scholarships this year, almost 60 per cent more than last year.
"We are stepping up efforts to enhance the attractiveness of health-care services to Singaporeans," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. "I am happy to note that our efforts are beginning to bear fruit."
Mr Gan, who was speaking as guest of honour at the scholarship ceremony yesterday, also highlighted changes to health- care scholarships meant to attract more people, which were introduced last year.
These include rebranding undergraduate scholarships and developing a new framework to engage and develop the recipients.
Another scholarship recipient yesterday is Ms Divya Murugan, who will start a four-year degree course in occupational therapy next February in Australia.
Her interest in the field was piqued when she shadowed an occupational therapist during an attachment with Tan Tock Seng Hospital in February this year.
"It's more than just science," said the 20-year-old, who hopes to work with children after she graduates. "You deal with people's physical and emotional needs."
Mr Gan congratulated all the scholarship recipients yesterday, and reminded them of their duty to their future patients. "As a health-care professional of the future, you must always put the interests of your patients at the heart of everything you do, and care to go beyond," he said.
This article was first published on July 31, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.