Healthcare Humanity Award winner and CHC member Tan Chooi Peck shares about the highs and lows of being a nurse.
By Ridheema Lal
Nurses—the love, patience and effort they put into caring for practical strangers, not to mention the irregular work shifts, makes nursing one of the most noble, yet challenging professions of all time.
For Tan Chooi Peck, a registered operating theater nurse who has been working at Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) for over 10 years, her passion takes her beyond the four walls of the hospital; through volunteering with Christian-based organizations and not-for-profit organizations such as CityCare, her frequent medical mission trips to different countries gives her the opportunity to serve more people. Additionally, Tan is a member of the Healthcare Fellowship ministry at City Harvest Church.
For this, she was recently bestowed with a Healthcare Humanity Award by the Ministry of Health. This year, the annual award was given to 76 healthcare workers from public hospitals, polyclinics, nursing homes and related organisations in appreciation of their hard work and dedication. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the award.
“I feel honored to receive this award as helping people has always been my uttermost passion,” says Tan.
In her free time, this single and available lass likes to play badminton, watch movies, cook and surf the Internet.
Here she shares with City News what goes on behind the scenes.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
When I was around 17, I lost my dad to heart failure. I felt if I had known how to perform even a simple CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), I could have saved his life. This gave birth to a strong desire in my heart to help people. At age 22, I started working as a registered nurse.
Describe what a regular day is like at the hospital for you?
I am constantly on the move, coordinating with the other medical staff and making sure everything is in order before the doctors go ahead with the surgery. We are like the helping hands of the doctor as we help out with performing the surgeries. I work in the orthopedic ward and on any given day a surgery can easily last from four hours to 12 hours straight.
What do you find the most rewarding about being a nurse?
The most rewarding thing about being a nurse is interacting with apprehensive patients and their families right before they are about to go into surgery, encouraging them that everything will be alright. I find helping patients to recuperate after surgery (which is often one of their greatest challenges), to be most rewarding.
One pet peeve is patients who complain and want us to attend to them when we are already attending to somebody else in need of immediate attention. Trying to help them understand why they need to wait can be quite overwhelming sometimes.
The different morning/night shifts that last for nine to 12 hours each can take a toll on your sleep cycle and at times you are so busy that you even forget to take your meals.
How do you handle stress at work?
After a long tiring day at work I always find it therapeutic to talk with my colleagues about how our day went or how a particular surgery went, for example. At times I confide in my friends and family, but generally they don’t understand what I’m talking about as we nurses refer to a lot of technical terms, so the best people to talk to would be either my colleagues or someone in a similar field.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to choose nursing as a career?
Nursing may sound like a very demanding career and yes, indeed it is, but it also a very rewarding job as you have the capability to make a huge difference in people’s lives. The fact that they put their trust in someone they don’t know to help them get better gives one a feeling that only a nurse can describe—a kind of joy that comes when you see your patients smile from ear to ear as they get better and better each day.