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Beyond the Call of Duty
28 June 2019

In the course of Nicole’s nursing career, she has brought light and hope to many. For her tireless dedication, she was recently conferred the Healthcare Humanity Award (Honourable Mention).

By Toh Wei Shi, HCA Community Relations

Beneath HCA Palliative Care Nurse Nicole Peng’s petite stature lies a big heart. Coupled with an endearing personality and willingness to go many extra miles for her patients and their families, there is no doubt Nicole has touched the lives of many in her journey as a nurse.

Remarkably in tune with the needs and feelings of her patients and their loved ones, Nicole has helped to bring numerous last wishes to fruition. Having served in both the HCA Star PALS programme and adult home hospice care over the last five years, Nicole has demonstrated an ability to form meaningful connections with people from all walks of life.

Nicole coos playfully at HCA Star PALS patient Shahfeequl.

Fleeting Brilliance

The prospect of losing a child is always devastating – it upends the natural cycle of life and cruelly plunders hopes and dreams. Yet, no matter how brief their time in this world, the brilliance of these young lives leaves an indelible imprint, especially on those who love them.

This is something Nicole understands and cherishes deeply – the bright potential of these children – even when the road ahead seems bleak. Late HCA Star PALS patient Sharon Callista Rain was one of them. Prior to being afflicted with Ewing sarcoma, a type of cancer that occurs in bones or soft tissue, Sharon had been an outgoing child who loved modelling, music and going to school. 

Nicole with late patient Sharon.

The condition left Sharon paralysed from the waist down, but the little girl remained positive, engaging in her hobbies as best she could. Over the course of numerous home visits, Sharon and her mother gradually opened up to Nicole about their fears and hopes for the future. An avid animal lover at heart, Sharon expressed a wish to see real ponies up close and Nicole immediately got to planning a fun day out for the family.

Nicole with Sharon and her parents at River Safari.

Nicole’s efforts were not lost on the little girl, who had grown very fond of her. “Nurse Nicole from Star PALS is nice,” Sharon had said simply. “She knows that I wanted to visit the Singapore Zoo and River Safari, so she planned an outing for me; I enjoyed it!”

Sharon passed on several months later at the tender age of nine. Such is the nature of hospice and palliative care work, where farewells are inevitable. But Nicole remains undaunted by the emotional toll. “I just love with all my heart,” Nicole says. “When they pass on, I will cry.”

Childhood Ambitions

It was a dream come true for Nicole when she received her acceptance letter for the nursing programme.

After her ‘O' Levels at 16, Nicole had wanted to apply for nursing, but her aspirations were met with parental objection. She eventually settled on an Electrical and Electronic Engineering diploma, but the drive to seek out a career in which she could actively help others remained. “I thought of being a paramedic but I did not qualify because of height requirements,” Nicole laughs.

Nicole receives the Healthcare Humanity Award 2019 from President Halimah Yacob.

Today, Nicole has come full circle in her journey as a nurse. She recently clinched the Healthcare Humanity Award 2019 (Honourable Mention) for her selfless efforts beyond the call of duty.

“We can always work on our skills as a nurse, but ultimately, passion is the most important,” Nicole says.