Like many over-worked hospital nurses, Herlina was always working. One of the challenges she could never control or overcome was having to work double shifts, day in, day out. “I worked harder as there was a shortage of nurses,” the 30-year-old reminisced. Herlina remembered the days when she was pressured to complete the paperwork after coming off a double shift and finishing late just to be back at work shortly the next morning. On top of that, working on public holidays whilst her family was home, was rather depressing for the young nurse.
Not long ago, freelancing in Singapore was still an unknown territory for most. Nurse Herlina was no exception. She questions the income stability as well as the availability of career progression and development in a freelancing career. “Hospital sends nurses for courses to upskill so the knowledge and experience you gain whilst working in a ‘war zone’ like the A&E department is valuable,” Herlina explained the reason she hesitated to leave her full-time nursing job. While she was contemplating the switch, Herlina explored her options as an agency nurse, which was short lived. She highlighted the primary disadvantage of working for a nurse agency: "The agency takes 10 percent commission from your pay."
Herlina first discovered freelancing when she did her degree studies but found her way back onto the full-time treadmill soon after graduation. While working for an agency, the flexibility of freelancing through a platform eventually trumped her doubts. In 2013, the staff nurse jumped on the freelance bandwagon and has never looked back since.
Today, nurse Herlina devotes the majority of her time to her toddler and husband as well as explores her other interest in life – photography. Herlina now has spare time to study photography at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts: “I love art. Nursing and photography are Art.” As a freelance nurse, Herlina was also able to backpack around Indonesia, India, Myanmar and Thailand. Her freelancing career has also complemented her family life, where she gets to be heavily involved in her 18-months-old son’s upbringing as well as spend time with him and her husband on weekends. “I just have to inform the nurse-in-charge of my availability for the two weeks before the new roster comes up,” she explained how easy the arrangement of work schedule is. Herlina stauchly believes that freelancing is great for nurses with families.
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Herlina shares with us some of the things she loves about her freelancing career:
- She's her my own boss. She no longer takes instruction from people.
- She gets to focus on what she loves, which is nursing. She no longer needs to inundate herself with tons of unnecessary paperwork.
- Flexibility – enough said.
- She has extra time doing other things she enjoys besides nursing.
- Less stressful, happy lifestyle!
For nurses who are considering the jump, Herlina emphasized two major points:
- Get a degree or at least an advanced diploma. It is important to upgrade yourself and, you'll see, more doors of opportunity will open.
- Before switching to freelancing, try to gain as much knowledge and experience during your full-time employment. Once you're a freelance nurse, you're on your own.
Her nine years of nursing experience has taught her that a freelancing career is best for nurses who want to start a family. “To those nurses who are married and trying to have a baby, I suggest you quit your stressful full-time job and take up freelance nursing,” the mother of one advised. “Stop complaining about how stressful your job is, and consider freelance. It’s less stressful, which means happy ‘me’ time.”
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