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Angels in Pink
31 August 2021

Above: L-R, Front: HCA Nurses Choo Seow Ling, Low En Yun, Tan Joo Eng. Back: HCA Nurses Ang Boon Yang, Chin Shi Xuan and Carol Toh.

By Sherilynn Loh, Community Relations

Every day, HCA nurses don their pink uniforms, an intrinsic part of their identity as a nurse. And it is in these sets of recognisable uniforms that they perform their duties, embody their calling and take pride to be the nurse that they are or aspire to be. Our nurses shared their experiences in their iconic pink uniforms:

How has your impression of nursing changed prior to and after donning a nurse’s uniform?

 

 

Chin Shi Xuan, HCA Nursing Aide:

When I was a student, I always thought that nursing was about having the patience, knowledge, skills and passion to care for patients. After becoming a Nursing Aide in HCA, I realised that being in nursing also means having the heart to serve and build relationships with patients. And to have an open mind to grow and learn from others, regardless of whether they are a Nursing Aide, Staff Nurse or even a patient!

 

 

Ang Boon Yang, HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse:

I used to think that nursing was only about doing our best to help the patients, because there were no sophisticated equipment or advanced medication at the time. My impression only changed after seeing significant advancements in the field. Now, there are more advanced medical equipment and medication, and a lot research to guide our practice, allowing nurses to render better care to patients. I am grateful that I am able to play a small part in my patients’ end-of-life journey, supporting their medical needs.

 

 

What made you decide to switch to a nurse's uniform?

 

 

 

 

 

Choo Seow Ling, HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse:
 

I remember being very inspired by the stories of nurses who bravely put their lives on the line, for the SARS patients during the outbreak. It was also around that time that I was reflecting about life and felt that I needed to do something more meaningful and outside of my Human Resource work. When I found out that the Ministry of Health had a mid-career conversion programme, I realised this was my opportunity to do meaningful work so I made the switch.

 

 

 

 

 

Ang Boon Yang, HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse:

 

Actually, I left nursing to become a property agent for about three years, before deciding to return to nursing. It was a chance encounter on the train, that I came across a poster that read “Nursing is a life-changing profession.” Coincidentally, my ex-nursing colleague had also boarded the same train and we had a chat. During our short exchange, she shared how the profession had evolved since I left and she also believed that I still enjoyed nursing. It was that moment, that I decided to go back to nursing.

What are your best memories in your nurse's uniform?

 

 

 

 

 

Tan Joo Eng, HCA Assistant Nurse Manager:

 

The relationships formed with patients and their families. During our home visits, we interact with patients and their families and form good relationships with them, sometimes lasting beyond a patient’s journey with us. I recall a former patient once patted my shoulder in appreciation of my care for him while I was changing him. Another asked her daughter to thank me on her behalf as she had difficulty speaking. Even though my patients have passed on, their family members are still grateful for the service we provided. While I was waiting for a cab once, a former patient’s son recognised me and offered a ride to my next home visit. In another instance, a taxi driver had refused to charge me for the trip, because his loved one was a former patient under HCA. They still remember us, despite the passing of time and these have given me some of my best memories.

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Toh, HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse:

 

My proudest moment in uniform was going on stage to receive the Healthcare Humanity Award and representing HCA. I am deeply humbled to be recognised as an inspirational role model, for going the extra mile to offer care and comfort to my patients; it was truly a proud moment in my 10-year nursing career. On occasions I have also heard people in the public saying that HCA has been doing such a good job in the community and it makes me proud of our work and the uniform that I wear.

 

 

 

 

 

Low En Yun, HCA Star PALS Senior Palliative Care Nurse:

 

My best memories are the smiles I see on my patients’ faces whenever I visit them and having the privilege to visit my patients and their families in their homes. It always warms my heart, because even though some of my patients are non-verbal and cannot communicate, they still offer a little smile. Each family comes from different backgrounds, so being able to hold the space for them when they go through their experiences, is something I find meaning and fulfilment in.

What are some unique experiences you have encountered in uniform?

 

 

 

 

 

Chin Shi Xuan, HCA Nursing Aide:

 

As a nurse, I enjoy working with the elderly and they always have so much to share with me. Whenever we speak, they would always hold my hand for support. Even though their hands are cold, I always feel this sense of warmth and calmness around them. Whenever I greet them, they would return a warm and wrinkled smile. That would brighten my day. It was then that I knew which path I would choose after I graduated.

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Toh, HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse:

 

On a few occasions, some taxi drivers saw me in our pink uniform and shared with me that their loved ones were formerly under the care of HCA. After our conversations, they often declined to collect taxi fares from me. While these are heart-warming experiences that remind me that our work has touched many lives, there was another that showed me how palliative care is still a taboo topic. Many years ago, a former patient requested that I change out of my uniform during my visits, because she did not want her neighbours to know that she was under hospice care. Unfortunately, I was unable to accede to her request, so she declined my visit altogether. Our uniform is our professional attire to represent HCA and render our services and I take pride in wearing it.

 

How has donning the nurse's uniform impacted your life?

 

 

 

 

 

Low En Yun, HCA Star PALS Senior Palliative Nurse:

 

Since I became a nurse 12 years ago, I have never looked back. Through my interactions with the children under my care in both the hospital and home care settings, I have learnt that there are many things that cannot be learnt from a textbook. Despite the challenges these children and their families face in their end-of-life journey, I can see the tenacity and strength in them. And the kindness that they have shown me, far outweighs what I can ever provide for them.

 

 

 

 

 

Choo Seow Ling, HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse:

 

It has added meaning to my life. Before donning my nurse’s uniform, I was a HR professional who was watching the news about nurses who braved the SARS pandemic. Today, I am in my nurse’s uniform as a frontliner who supports patients on their end-of-life journeys. And I am thankful for the opportunity to serve.