I t does not only take a warded patient to know that nurses are indispensable in the hospital. They work tirelessly through the day to ensure that doctors’ prescriptions are communicated, and that patients’ needs are met. It is hard to imagine a hospital functioning effectively – if at all – without the contributions of dedicated nurses.
One such nurse is Healthcare Scholar Claudia Tan. The 26-year-old is currently fulfilling Senior Staff Nurse responsibilities at National University Hospital (NUH), an acute hospital under the National University Health System (NUHS). She takes time off her busy schedule to run us through her reasons for taking up the healthcare scholarship, as well as her challenging yet infinitely rewarding task of caring for the vulnerable.
Tan Yanhua Claudia
Senior Staff Nurse, National University Hospital
Tell us about your job.
Claudia Tan: I ensure seamless care for my patients, advocate for my patients during morning rounds with the doctors, and work together with allied health colleagues to holistically review and care for our patients. Aside from my clinical role, I ensure my shift runs smoothly and that all warded patients during my shift receive timely care. Occasionally, I do have junior nurses under my guidance, and I lead this team of nurses in decision-making when we meet with challenges such as a patient’s deteriorating condition or a bed crunch situation.
What sparked your interest in Nursing?
Claudia: Honestly, nursing was not my first choice. Teaching was. I knew I wanted a career that involved daily human interactions instead of a deskbound job. I went for an attachment while I was in Junior College at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where I had the opportunity to shadow a clinician, a pharmacist, a radiographer and a nurse during each day of the week. During this attachment, I was particularly intrigued by the role of a nurse. I realised that nurses are at the heart of a multidisciplinary team that strive toward better patient care, and I wanted to be a part of this team. The great thing about my job today is that I can combine my love for teaching with nursing daily.
What is one memorable episode you have had throughout your career?
Claudia: An elderly patient of mine in the resuscitation area was critically ill and was passing on. The team of emergency doctors and nurses watched as the primary doctor took out his mobile phone and made a long distance overseas call, so that this patient could say her final goodbye to her son with the little breath and strength she had remaining. I believe this will always remain in the memories of all who witnessed this emotional scene, and it has constantly reminded me of the power of the human touch in patient care.
Tell us about the opportunities you have received as a healthcare scholar.
Claudia: When I was still a student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), we had various placements in restructured hospitals, hospices and polyclinics to expose us to the breadth of nursing in Singapore. This has allowed me to understand nursing beyond my textbooks and confines of a single hospital. I have also had the privilege of representing NUH at various scholarship fairs, and speaking to undergraduates who are taking up the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree programme at NUS’ tea talk sessions. Such opportunities are priceless as I am able to inspire the young of Singapore to consider nursing, to correct mindsets with regards to what it means to be a nurse, and essentially be a nursing ambassador.
What can fresh graduates look forward to if they join NUHS?
Claudia: NUHS has a Graduate Nurse Residency Programme for graduate nurses which I was a part of. This has equipped me with skills such as reflective journaling and effective communication! This programme has also given me the opportunity to spearhead an evidence-based research project during my first year as a Registered Nurse, effectively exposing me to the rigours of quality improvement and leadership training.
What kind of qualities must nurses possess?
Claudia: Nurses must be resilient physically and even emotionally, as the days can be long and physically exhausting. Working on shifts and at irregular hours may also mean missing our loved ones and not being able to be there during every special occasion or festivity. But a nurse presses on despite these challenges, knowing that their sacrifices and care go a long way in their patients’ recovery. Most importantly, nurses have to be passionate about their job, which is essentially a calling. Without this passion, it will be easy for one to feel discouraged when times get difficult and trying.