Nurses spend more time in direct contact with patients than any other healthcare professional. They shape and impact the patient experience through their holistic scope of practice and unique body of knowledge. Be inspired by Healthcare Scholar Koh Fang Qi as she touches on the rewards, challenges and unique characteristics of the nursing profession.
What sparked your interest in nursing?
Koh Fang Qi: My father passed away from cancer 10 years ago. I was still very young back then, and none of my family members or relatives were in the healthcare field. I always felt that things could have been different if someone in the family was in healthcare – we might have been able to understand and accept the situation better.
I was not sure about which healthcare pathway to pursue, until I attended a talk about the nursing course at the National University of Singapore Open House. It struck me that this is exactly what I have been looking for in a career. In order to learn more about nursing, I also signed up for a student attachment in a public hospital during my vacation. The experience strengthened my interest in nursing – a career rich with challenges and rewards. Following that, I decided to apply for a Healthcare scholarship and placed nursing as my first choice.
How have you benefitted from the Healthcare scholarship?
Fang Qi: The scholarship eased my financial burden, allowing me to have more time to study and engage in other activities in university. The scholarship also funded my hall accommodation, which eliminated my daily commute to and from school. In addition, I had the opportunity to attend events and workshops organised by the scholarship departments. These experiences allowed us to learn about the other allied health professions and forge friendships with fellow healthcare scholars, even before we enter the workforce.
What are your roles and responsibilities as Staff Nurse?
Fang Qi: As a staff nurse in a general surgery and orthopaedics ward, I provide pre- and post-operative care to patients returning from surgery. We collaborate with other members of the healthcare team to formulate a care plan, and involve patients and their families in the recovery process. Additionally, we ensure continuity of care for patients by maintaining complete, accurate, concise and updated documentations of patient care, and also participate in quality improvement activities.
Why is nursing such a unique profession?
Fang Qi: Many feel that nursing is a low-skilled job, where we act as doctors' assistants, or just help in feeding or clothing patients. However, nursing is a profession itself, in which we have to learn about nursing diagnoses and nursing care plans. We also learn about different medical conditions and their treatments, as well as pharmacology.
Nurses spend the most time beside patients compared to other members of the healthcare team. Hence, it is very crucial for us to pick up early warning signs of deterioration for our patients. With regular monitoring, we will be able to administer timely treatments for our patients. We also act as a patient's advocate and express their concerns to the healthcare team in order to have a treatment plan that is of the patient's best interests.
Koh Fang Qi
Staff Nurse I,
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Name a challenge you face at work and your way of tackling it.
Fang Qi: Shortage of manpower has always been a problem in nursing, and sometimes it is difficult for us to attend to our patients' needs all at once. To overcome this, we would provide training to caregivers to care for the patients. This way, we can try to prioritise our time to patients who require the extra care.
Any memorable encounters on the job?
Fang Qi: In my one year of experience, I witnessed a miracle. I had a patient who met with a serious road traffic accident. His prognosis was poor, and his artificial breathing device was removed in the Intensive Care Unit before being transferred to my ward. Everyone said that he might pass away anytime without any respiratory support. However, perhaps due to his strong willpower, he managed to pull through for weeks and was eventually transferred to a community hospital. The next time I saw him, he was almost well and able to walk about. We do not always see miracles, which is why this patient left a deep impression on me. We could all do with a little hope sometimes.
What is one essential trait that all nurses must have?
Fang Qi: Patience. As patients are unwell and families are concerned, there are times when they might vent their frustrations on you. It is important that you do not take these negative feelings personally because most of the time, they are upset with the situation and not with you. In order to stay in this career, we have to learn how to deal with such situations and provide comfort and help as much as possible.
What advice can you give to students who are exploring their scholarship options?
Fang Qi: If you already know what to do in the future, it is very beneficial to have a scholarship because it provides more opportunities, be it as a student or as a staff. Many people are concerned about the bond period, but it guarantees you job security after graduation.