Alaine Teu provides holistic care to critically ill patients in her role as Senior Staff Nurse at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital's Intensive Care Unit and High Dependency Unit. She is a scholarship recipient of the Healthcare Merit Award from MOHH, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Honours from NUS.
Here in Asia, many of us are culturally programmed to get the approval of our parents before doing anything significant, especially during our younger years. It could be the choice of schools, hobbies or even our careers.
Alaine Teu’s decision to pursue nursing when she was 16 years old, unsurprisingly, was met with disapproval from her mum and dad. Undeterred, she did plenty of research to convince her parents before they gave their wholehearted support.
She recalled, emotionally: “My mum was not supportive of me taking up nursing in the beginning. After many heart to heart talks, she began to understand my reasons and the motivation behind my decision to be in a career that equips me to serve others and contribute back to society.”
Fast forward to the present, Alaine is helping people and saving lives as a Senior Staff Nurse at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HD).
Desire to Give Back
Alaine’s conviction to pursue nursing stemmed from an overseas volunteer trip, where she witnessed the plight and poverty of the children growing up in rural villages.
She recalled: “The trip made me reflect upon myself and the luxuries I had taken for granted in Singapore. It sparked many moments of introspection when I questioned my life purpose and meaning. It was then I decided that I want to be in a position where I can give back.”
And with that, she chose the noble profession of nursing. Upon graduation from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Nursing, Alaine wanted to further her knowledge by pursuing a nursing degree from NUS, and she did that on the back of a Healthcare Scholarship by MOHH.
Apart from financing her academic pursuit, the scholarship also provided Alaine with unique opportunities and support.
“MOHH helped us transition into our university life easily by matching us with a senior scholar buddy to guide us along. For example, my buddy advised me to join the dialect classes that were tailored to suit healthcare professionals. This was extremely helpful in giving me the basic ability to communicate with my patients.”
Alaine also appreciated the constant engagement with senior management from the healthcare sector, where she could glean a good overview of the healthcare system even before she starts work.
“There were also many opportunities for Overseas Community Involvement Programme (OCIP) and medical mission trips,” she beamed.
One of the most memorable experiences she had as an undergraduate was an overseas internship to Nagoya, Japan, which broadened her view and gave her a unique look into healthcare systems beyond Singapore.
“We got to visit all the healthcare facilities such as hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and even an old folks’ home. There, we witnessed how they focus on preserving the independence of elderlies by modifying wheelchairs and utensils to cater to their individualised need.”
Thinking on Her Feet
Alaine jumped right in the thick of the action as she was assigned to the ICU and HD Unit at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital upon graduation. Rather than being apprehensive, she was looking forward to the challenge.
“I was drawn to the complex nature of critical care and I aspire to gain knowledge and skills to provide life-saving care to extremely sick patients,” she said.
“Patients who are admitted to our department can deteriorate very quickly and require very immediate interventions. Our brains are always actively thinking about their condition to pick up early signs. We also have to hone good communication and interpersonal skills to empathise and support distraught family members,” explained Alaine.
Five years on, Alaine continues to be engaged and motivated by the fast-paced and dynamic environment at the department she was first assigned to. As a Senior Staff Nurse, she feels privileged to be in a position to mentor and pass on her knowledge to her juniors. In fact, to hone her teaching skills, Alaine pursued a Graduate Certificate in Teaching & Learning for Healthcare Professionals at her alma mater, NUS.
On mentoring her younger colleagues, she said: “I believe that they are the future of Nursing who will be able to make a great difference to the patients they care for. Constantly, I reflect on my generous senior who has taught me so many important lessons that helped me improve my patient care. They are a reminder and inspiration for me to be able to do the same.”
Beyond the ICU
While Alaine is content and engaged in her role at the ICU and HD unit, she emphasised that nursing goes beyond just tending to injuries and ailments.
“There are many possibilities for nurses, such as nursing informatics, education, research, and management. The important thing is to find out what one is passionate and interested in,” she stated.
“There are definitely challenges in healthcare but with the right motivation, it will spur you through any obstacle that comes your way. If you have decided that this is something you really want to do, then the healthcare scholarship is going to be so helpful in equipping you with the network, knowledge and skills to succeed in healthcare.”