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Foster parents’ love for him leads man to take up nursing

SINGAPORE — Abandoned as a toddler, Benjamin Ramki Mathevan grew up in an orphanage and was eventually adopted by a Chinese couple who ran the place.

Foster parents’ love for him leads man to take up nursing

Malaysian Benjamin Ramki Mathevan, 26, wants to change the perception that nursing is a profession only for women. Photo: National Healthcare Group

SINGAPORE — Abandoned as a toddler, Benjamin Ramki Mathevan grew up in an orphanage and was eventually adopted by a Chinese couple who ran the place.

Seeing his adoptive parents as his “heroes”, the Malaysian from Selangor, now 26, found his calling as a nurse after his foster mother suggested it to him.

Speaking to TODAY last week to mark Nurses Day yesterday, Mr Benjamin pointed out that his unique family environment and background resulted in him being multilingual, and that is now a valuable asset in his work at the emergency department of Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

He can speak English, Malay, Tamil, Mandarin, and the Chinese dialects of Hokkien and Cantonese.

“Being multilingual has helped me to communicate with patients and reassure them that they are in good hands,” he said. It also comes in useful when speaking to the patients’ caregivers, to “allay their concerns”, he added.

In 2008, after he completed his Malaysian Certificate of Education — a national examination equivalent to the GCE O-Level in Singapore — he was considering his choice of course in college.

He was unsure of all but one thing: His studies should lead him to a job that would allow him to care for others the way he was cared for by his foster parents. “Why not try nursing?” his foster mother had asked him at the time, but he did not warm up to her suggestion at first because he “always thought that nurses are females” as is usually portrayed “in the media”.

He decided to do some research and found out that there are also male nurses. He then enrolled in a three-year nursing course, and from there, his interest in and excitement about the vocation grew. Upon graduation, he moved to Singapore and began his nursing career in TTSH.

Mr Benjamin said that most people think nursing is a profession for women, just like he used to, but he would now like to help change that impression.

“Being a nurse means you are empowered to make a difference to people’s lives, and gender should not be a determining factor for doing the job.”

A spokesperson from the National Healthcare Group said that it has seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of male nurses, from 526 in 2011 to 657 last year. There is a public hospital, two national specialty centres and nine polyclinics under the group.

The spokesperson added that with more older patients requiring mobility support, “male nurses come in handy to help with certain tasks like lifting and moving them from one place to another”.

Mr Benjamin agreed, adding that there are other advantages: “Many times, male patients are more comfortable and at ease when they are cared for by another man.” JOEY CHUA XUE TING

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