Most of us know that nursing is a caring profession, but did you know that nurses can take it one step further? According to Low Mui Lang, who has over 40 years of nursing under her belt, nursing becomes more than a caring profession when it is practised in the community. She calls it a “helping profession”.
Outlining some of the intangible benefits of being a nurse in the community sector— developing soft skills, gaining confidence to speak to people individually and in public, being on the grounds to assist patients through difficult medical issues—Mui Lang says: “If you genuinely want to be in the helping profession, come and develop the right skillset to manage people. Be ready to work diligently, have patience to listen carefully, interact with different groups and various ages, and apply what you learn. Ultimately, you gain much more in life in a few short years because you chose community nursing.”
Mui Lang, who is now Executive Director of The Salvation Army, Peacehaven Nursing Home, told BrightSparks that community nurses become people whom others can turn to for support to navigate the healthcare system.
This becomes even more relevant as Singapore’s population ages, and the healthcare needs of our society increase in both breadth and scope. Not only are more complex conditions just starting to be identified, people are living longer with conditions that often require extended care.
Low Mui Lang
Executive Director (The Salvation Army, Peacehaven Nursing Home)
Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management
– University of Swansea, Wales
By and large, these responsibilities fall upon community nurses who are required to go beyond providing simple medical care or ensuring the patients take their medication on time. Community nurses also need to understand the patient’s family culture and circumstances in order to plan the appropriate care according to the patient’s diagnosis.
Mui Lang, 59, explains: “Community nursing focuses on holistic care that combines an understanding of social dynamics with activities that are part of daily living and maintenance therapy. Healthcare professionals in the community nursing setting are required to have an overall view, understand the culture, and possess knowledge to be able to partner clients in the planning of care while taking into consideration their medical diagnosis.”
Nurses Become Educators
She should know. Having spent more than 40 years in the industry, she has seen first-hand how the healthcare industry has changed. Although the need for good medical services and good patient care remains a constant, the methods in which medical care are delivered are always evolving together with advancements made in the study of medicine.
“Intervention methods change as medical advancements progress to another level. It is the same for nursing procedures, therefore nurses must keep themselves abreast of the changes and continue to learn every day,” she says. For instance, Mui Lang explains that community nurses find themselves donning the additional mantle of educator these days, having to conduct talks and educate family members on the lifestyle modifications that are recommended for the patients.
In her capacity as Executive Director, Mui Lang serves a dual role at Peacehaven, looking after the operational side of things as well as overseeing the training and development of the direct care staff. To encourage the staff to plan the appropriate level of care for residents, she arranges sessions where the multidisciplinary team looks through the eyes of the residents and clients to consider what is reasonable for their conditions, and how they would feel about the care that they receive. The focus, Mui Lang shares, is “giving them a glimpse of hope and joy and creating significant memories for them in many days of their lives”.
Learning From Different Approaches
To illustrate this better, Mui Lang shares a particularly memorable experience from a visit to a Day Centre programme known as the Dream of Mizuumi in Japan: “The clients get to choose their programme for the day and earned money for various activities. They could spend their money on leisure activities such as a massage, or have an extra cooked dish, then go to the ‘bank’ and bank in their money. The programme is about empowering, respecting, and enabling the client to be independent as far as possible.”
Today’s nursing journey is all about learning from these experiences and considering how they can be applied in the local context. It’s a dynamic career that calls upon you to empathise and improve the lives of those in your care.
She adds that there is merit in each country’s healthcare system and structure, while countries that provide total coverage for healthcare programmes face the challenge of sustainability.
Scholarship For Community Nursing
Recognising the importance of growing the pool of dedicated and empathetic nurses, MOH Holdings offers the Community Nursing Scholarship (CNS) in order to encourage the sprouting of a new generation of community nursing leaders who will shape the future of community care.
The aim of CNS is to nurture nurses with the skills they need to further the standards of community care in Singapore. Development opportunities for CNS scholars include two clinical postings to hone their nursing skills and understand more intimately what their community nursing roles will entail. During their CNS scholarship, budding community nurses will also have the chance to sign up for student exchange programmes to learn from the healthcare systems in other countries.
For further information, please visit: http://www.healthcarescholarships.sg/fullterm-community-nursing-scholarship.html