Meet Poh Pei Fen

Talent: Health and Social Care
Institution/Organisation: Nanyang Polytechnic
Award/s: GOLD MEDALLIST in 39th WorldSkills Competition

The ability to stay calm and collected during the most stressful of situations – that is the most valuable skill that Poh Pei Fen  learnt from her WorldSkills Competition (WSC) experience. In fact, this ability to stay calm has helped Pei Fen in her current job, as a Senior Staff Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Back in 2007, Pei Fen was a third year Diploma in Nursing student at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). Together with her partner Ethel Lim, she competed in the ‘Caring’ category of the WorldSkills Competition, which was held in Shizuoka, Japan from 15 to 18 November 2007.  This was a new competition area, introduced for the first time.  And Pei Fen and Ethel made history by winning this debut gold medal for Singapore.  They beat competitors from countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

After she graduated from NYP, Pei Fen started work, as a Staff Nurse in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and she worked her way up to Senior Staff Nurse.  She has also upgraded her studies.  In 2007, she took up the SingHealth Alice Lee Institute for Advanced Nursing Scholarship to do a degree in Nursing from La Trobe University, Australia. She also did an Advanced Diploma in Critical Care in NYP in 2012.

Pei Fen found that as a young nurse just starting out in her career, her WorldSkills experience  helped her gained a headstart.  She explained: “In WorldSkills, we were given certain scenarios to demonstrate our skills in Nursing. During these scenarios, there would be large crowds of people watching us. So in order to concentrate and not be affected by the crowds, I would tune them out.  And when I started work, I discovered I also encountered highly stressful emergency situations in the ICU.  Just like in WorldSkills, I stayed focused. I showed that I can be a competent nurse, who could manage my emotions and be a leader during such situations.”

Another important skill which Pei Fen learnt during WorldSkills was the ability to communicate well.  One of the tasks required was to provide patients with health education.  “With the skills I learnt, I have learnt how to better communicate with my patients,” said Pei Fen.  “I am also willing to discuss sensitive topics with them, and help them to better understand their medical conditions.”

Pei Fen continued to give back to WorldSkills, by helping to train the next three batches of her NYP juniors who represented Singapore in subsequent WSCs from 2009 to 2013.   She also keeps in touch with the group of competitors who represented Singapore in the 39th WSC.  “We formed a very good informal network of friends, and we support each other in our journey.  For example, when I need graphic design advice, I know who to turn to in this network,” said Pei Fen.

With Pei Fen and her partner Ethel setting the benchmark, the next three batches of
competitors representing Singapore in the Health & Social Care trade also
went on to attain gold medals at the world’s stage.  And all the competitors were students from
NYP.