Agency for Integrated Care
MOHH Cluster | AIC

Choosing Nursing Over Medicine

She came from a family of doctors, but Priscilla Pang Ling Xia decided to pursue a career in nursing due to her passion for providing long-term care for the elderly. Now an Assistant Director of Nursing at NTUC Health and recipient of the Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA), she is at the forefront of elevating care services standards for the ageing population in our community.
Agency for Integrated Care

Priscilla Pang Ling Xia is currently an Assistant Director of Nursing in the Residential Care Division under NTUC Health Co-operative Limited. She is a recipient of the Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA) and holds a Master of Science in Applied Gerontology at NTU.

Priscilla Pang Ling Xia’s nursing journey is a testament to her dedication to the Community Care sector, where she strives to bring about positive changes in the lives of the elderly.

To the surprise of many, she did not start out in nursing.

“I became interested in the field of community nursing in 1999 when I was first enrolled in medical school. It was around that period that my grandfather fell ill. He was in immense pain before he passed on, and I truly believed that his pain could have been alleviated with good nursing care. His passing made me reflect on my career choice and it ultimately led me to this field.”

Having made her choice, she took up the Asian Nursing Scholarship offered by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in 1999. After completing the Diploma in Nursing from Nanyang Polytechnic in May 2003, she began her nursing career at National University Hospital (NUH) as a Staff Nurse. She subsequently progressed to become a Clinical Instructor.

Although she started her nursing career in the acute care setting, Priscilla decided to join the Community Care sector in 2010 to pursue her passion for providing community nursing.

“Besides wanting to help the vulnerable, I also wanted to explore alternatives to promote the overall well-being of residents beyond the hospital setting, as well as look into opportunities for career development in Community Care,” she shared.

A Journey of Dedication

From 2010 to 2013, Priscilla took up an overseas stint to serve as an Assistant Director of Nursing in an eldercare management firm in China. There, she set up and managed the Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) for elderly care in Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin.

In 2014, she was scouted for the role of Vice Director in the Nursing and Health Management Department at the Taikang Senior Living Community in China. For the next two years, she was actively involved in the recruitment and training of candidates for the Taikang Nursing Scholarship. She also contributed to developing care systems with the IT teams to support the work of elderly care teams in Taikang, China.

However, she felt a calling to return to Singapore and support the community nursing scene. Priscilla joined NTUC Health Co-operative Limited as a Nurse Manager in Residential Care in April 2017.

Her dedication to continuous growth and learning was recognised through the Community Care Manpower Development Awards (CCMDA) offered by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC). The award not only supported her with 90% funding to pursue a Master of Science in Applied Gerontology, but also enabled her to upskill and further refine her perspectives on how she can continue to contribute to the Community Care sector.

“The programme empowered me with the relevant knowledge and thought processes to design policies, develop leadership skills as well as innovate and enhance care services for an ageing population,” Priscilla explained.

“What I love most about my profession is that I get to spend quality time with the patients or residents under my care. I am able to explore creative initiatives to support them and enable them to enjoy a meaningful life. This is something I was unable to provide my late grandfather at the end of his life.” Priscilla Pang Ling Xia

Elevating Care Standards in The Community

As an Assistant Director of Nursing in the Residential Care Division at NTUC Health - Singapore’s largest nursing home provider - Priscilla plays a pivotal role in coordinating and overseeing care across six nursing homes. Her leadership role is not limited to supervising and training staff as Priscilla also drives and manages change processes to improve nursing care and services to the residents. She serves as the resource person for Nurse Managers, Nurse Clinicians, and other clinical colleagues, where she would review the residents’ care plans and guide the team to refine them based on the complexity of the cases.

One of the most memorable projects during her career in NTUC Health was when she piloted a project that focused on Continence Management. The project aimed to support seniors to be weaned off adult diapers, allowing them to regain their dignity and independence. The project brought significant improvements to the overall well-being and quality of life for the residents, and it even received the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards (SHQSA) and Community Care Excellence Awards (CCEA) in 2020. Priscilla recounted, “It was particularly meaningful to see the fruits of our labour where residents’ well-being was enhanced.”

Priscilla reveals that the team-based work setting in Community Care enables her to foster valuable friendships where her colleagues become synonymous with friends. It also helps that NTUC Health encourages a cohesive and motivating work environment with clear values and purpose, which everyone works towards.

Yet, amidst her leadership and managerial roles, what she cherishes most is the time she has with her patients and residents. Priscilla said, “What I love most about my profession is that I am able to explore creative initiatives to support them and enable them to enjoy a meaningful life. This is something I was unable to provide my late grandfather at the end of his life.”

The well-being of her residents forms the backbone of her passion to serve them and continue to elevate and improve the standards of services in Community Care.

Career Progression for Nurses

Priscilla is grateful for the growth opportunities she has received at NTUC Health. “At NTUC Health, each staff member’s potential is actively identified. The ongoing training and development opportunities were crucial in allowing me to grow - not only in clinical skills but also in leadership,” she added.

Priscilla advises those aspiring to make a difference in the Community Care sector as a nursing leader to consider applying for the Community Nursing Scholarship offered by MOH Holdings. It is available from diploma to degree level for students to explore diverse nursing pathways.

These pathways include Nursing Management (e.g., Nurse Manager), Clinical (e.g., Nurse Clinician) and Education (e.g., Nurse Educator). She recommends pursuing advanced diplomas, degrees, and leadership development courses to progress into management or more specialised roles.

Aspiring nurses interested in the nursing management or clinical pathway in Community Care can consider taking up an additional Advance Diploma in Gerontology, Palliative Care, or Community Care coupled with their Degree in Nursing to strengthen their knowledge in the Community Care sector.

For graduate nurses, keen to grow in the Nursing Education pathway, besides having strong clinical knowledge and skills, Priscilla advises them to also pursue a degree in Education or Master’s degree in Education to widen their opportunities to be considered a Nurse Educator.

For those seeking a nursing management role (an Assistant Director of Nursing or Director of Nursing role, for example), pursuing a Master of Gerontology or Master’s in nursing would help expand one’s professional pathway to be considered for the role.

She concluded, “These nursing roles require specialised skill sets and allow nurses to make a great difference to Singapore’s Community Care sector, as their job scopes influence the quality of life and care for residents and patients.”

If you are inspired by Priscilla’s journey and desire to make a positive impact to shape the future of healthcare, do seize the opportunity to join the sector and apply for a Community Care Nursing Scholarship.