Alexandra Health
Special Features | Healthcare

Unsung Healthcare Hero

A nurse’s duties go far beyond the popular perception of being a doctor’s assistant. Healthcare Scholar Cherie Koh tells us about her enriching career as a Senior Staff Nurse.

While doctors are hailed as the day-to-day heroes or as life-savers, less is known about the important role nurses play in delivering safe and quality care for patients. Nurses support patients' recovery from illness by carrying out assessments, monitoring vital signs and observing trends, assisting with invasive procedures and administering drugs and injections.

And for 26-year-old Senior Staff Nurse Cherie Koh, her unique encounters with her patients over four years has certainly convinced her that nursing is where her passion lies. She enthuses, “Every shift is unique because you get to meet people from all walks of life! This helps keep my passion in nursing burning strong as I am challenged by the unknown that I face daily at work.”

What Motivated You To Pursue A Nursing Profession?

Cherie Koh: From young, I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare industry. My poor health in my youth, which resulted in multiple hospital admissions, made me realise that I too wanted to help others just like these 'hospital heroes'!

"... the professionalism I saw in the nurses who treated each patient with so much care and sincerity truly inspired me to be just like them."

My only dilemma was choosing from the various nursing and Allied Health professions available. I worked as a Patient Service Associate in the NUH Cancer Centre while awaiting my ‘A’ Level results and got to observe what different healthcare professionals do – this definitely motivated me to join the nursing profession.

I also realised that some cancer patients may get stares from the public because of their tumours and the treatment they undergo. But the professionalism I saw in the nurses who treated each patient with so much care and sincerity truly inspired me to be just like them.

Tell Us More About Your Roles And Responsibilities As A Senior Staff Nurse. What Do You Look Forward To In Your Future In This Role?

Cherie: A nurse is not just a doctor’s helper who only cleans up patients – there is actually much more that nurses do! Nurses act as patients' advocates and are the communication bridge between doctors, patients and other Allied Health professionals. They liaise with medical social workers and community service providers to plan patient discharges so as to facilitate and ease the transition of patients back home and into the community.

In addition to these duties, I also guide and mentor the student and junior nurses. I will also have to stand in for my Nursing Officers when they are not around, as well as handle queries or complaints from the public.

I definitely look forward to changing the perception of nurses in the public’s eye in the future. With the new National Nursing Taskforce, the Government is paying more attention to the welfare of nurses working in Singapore. I hope this will attract more young locals to join our exciting profession. It will also be really interesting to see how the increasing use of technology can enhance nurses' work in the near future.

How Has Your Scholarship Journey Prepared You For Your Career?

Cherie: Studying abroad has indeed made me more independent. I have learnt to be more confident when talking to people I may have shied away from due to the language barrier. I’ve also been given various opportunities to hone my leadership skills through pre-departure workshops and Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) activities.

During the summer holidays of my second undergraduate year, I was given the opportunity to intern with a sponsoring organisation. The nurse educator came up with an educational schedule and I spent a week each in a surgical ward, medical ward, medical Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department. This experience helped me better understand how the Singapore healthcare system works and I was even able to appreciate the differences between the UK’s healthcare system and Singapore’s!

What Is Your Biggest Challenge Faced Each Day And How Do You Overcome It?

Cherie: The biggest challenge I face is in meeting the increasing expectations of patients and their family members. With the proliferation of the Internet, patients and their families are better educated about their conditions and are more curious about how to manage them.

Cherie Koh Sin Teng
Healthcare Scholar

Senior Staff Nurse II

Bachelor of Nursing (Honours),
University of Manchester, UK

Advanced Diploma in Nursing
(Medical – Surgical),
Nanyang Polytechnic

The information they read may be incorrect at times and I occasionally find it difficult to convince them otherwise. In order to overcome this, I need to build up my rapport with each patient or family member and assure them that they can always depend on me if they ever need any additional information.

"If you have the Head for knowledge, the Heart to care and a pair of Hands that are not afraid of touching patients, please join us in this fulfilling and exciting career!"

What Words Of Wisdom Would You Have For Aspiring Healthcare Scholars?

Cherie: I find it most fulfilling when I receive a simple 'thank you' from patients with a smile on their face as they are discharged from the hospital – it gives you immense satisfaction knowing you have made a difference in their lives!

Someone also told me that a nurse will need the 3 H's when pursuing a career in Healthcare: the Head, the Heart and the Hands. If you have the Head for knowledge, the Heart to care and a pair of Hands that are not afraid of touching patients, please join us in this fulfilling and exciting career!