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Rooted in Care
31 August 2021

For HCA Senior Palliative Care Nurse Miao Lan, the International Pledge for Nurses – “to endeavour to keep their professional knowledge and skill at the highest level” – has anchored her dedication to go above and beyond for her patients and their families.

By Sherilynn Loh, Community Relations

Taking Root

For veteran nurse Miao Lan, nursing is more than just a profession – it is an extraordinary calling to bring comfort to those under her care and provide emotional refuge during difficult times.

Beyond Miao Lan’s soft-spoken demeanour, lies a quiet resolve to uphold the highest standards of nursing, all with the interests of her patients and their families in mind. The all-encompassing nature of nursing – caring for the physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing of others – is akin to the broad shelter, a tree provides for those in need.

For Miao Lan, her journey in nursing took root during her college years. After graduating at 19, she spent the next 20 years working in top public hospitals in Central China, gaining invaluable experience across different branches of nursing.

During the span of her career, Miao Lan was rotated to different speciality wards, from outpatient to the surgical ward. With every rotation, the young nurse had the same goal in mind: to learn as much as she could.

Miao Lan’s admirable work ethic enabled her to rise through the ranks, from a junior nurse to an ICU nursing supervisor, leading a team of nurses, in a highly stressful environment. Despite the varied and immense challenges, Miao Lan saw the opportunities to further develop her skills.

In fact, it is her love for challenges that fuels Miao Lan. “I love nursing because it keeps me on my toes,” she says.

During her home visits, Miao Lan would check her patients’ vitals, such as their blood pressure, as part of her routine.

Branching Out

Despite her successful career in China, Miao Lan felt that she had hit a developmental block. Having learnt all that was available in China then, she knew she had to branch out. She had her sights set on a more medically advanced country – Singapore – and decided to leave her comfort zone, to further broaden her clinical knowledge and skills.

It was a self-imposed challenge that did not sit well with her family and friends. “They were against it at first, but when they saw how much I enjoyed my work, they had a change of heart,” Miao Lan shares. “They are now very supportive of me.”

Miao Lan was plunged into the deep end, when she arrived in Singapore in 2006. She had to restart her training from scratch and relearn her clinical knowledge in English – a foreign language to the Chinese native.

 

Miao Lan is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She examines her patient’s leg meticulously after the patient described her discomfort.

 

Through sheer diligence and determination, Miao Lan spent the next 10 months studying late into the nights, memorising English words and phrases and then putting them to use, as she revisited her clinical knowledge. Despite the exhausting routine, Miao Lan still found a way to multitask throughout the day, like memorising vocabulary while walking.

Miao Lan was eventually rewarded for her efforts, when she obtained her practise licence in 2007 and began working as a nurse in a community hospital. With one foot in the door, Miao Lan’s next goal was self-improvement.

Unlike in her home country, Miao Lan realised that her patients came from various racial backgrounds, which motivated her to pick up several other languages. Today, Miao Lan is able to communicate effectively in English, Malay and some dialects, in addition to her mother tongue.

She then found herself drawn to a new challenge – palliative care – which prompted her to apply for a role in the largest home hospice provider in Singapore, HCA Hospice Care.
 

Growing Towards the Sun

For Miao Lan, her patients and love for learning, keep her energised. “Seeing my patients and their family members happy and grateful makes my work worthwhile,” she shares.

In her role as a Senior Palliative Care Nurse with HCA, Miao Lan provides medical care for patients in the comfort of their homes. Despite garnering 37 years of nursing experience under her belt, Miao Lan humbly believes that learning is a life-long journey and remains willing to learn and grow. Beyond textbooks, Miao Lan feels that her patients have taught her some of the greatest lessons in life.

“One of my patients told me that from the way I cared for him, he saw my attention to his needs and genuine concern and he called me his ‘Guan Yin’ (the Goddess of Mercy), which inspired me to always uphold this attentiveness, as I continue to care for others in the future,” Miao Lan recalls.

In palliative care, medication is important to alleviate the pain and discomfort felt by patients with life-limiting illnesses. Miao Lan ensures that proper medication is prescribed to each of her patients.

With a strong growth mindset and a love for challenges, Miao Lan constantly attends self-improvement courses, which enable her to translate the skills and knowledge learnt, to better care for her patients.

When an opportunity to enrol in the Advance Palliative Course arose, Miao Lan brought it up to her supervisor, but was met with hesitance, due to her lack of English proficiency at the time. With her heart set on advancing her knowledge in the speciality, Miao Lan put in the hours, revising at night and coming into the office on weekends to study.

Her supervisor’s worries were allayed, as Miao Lan graduated at the top of her cohort. While her achievement was truly laudable, it was successfully applying the knowledge to improve her patients’ wellbeing, that gave Miao Lan the greatest satisfaction of all.

Becoming A Shelter of Hope

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an atmosphere of fear – Miao Lan recalls several less-than-pleasant encounters, where private hire drivers would request that she disinfect her hands before entering the vehicle and wipe down the interior after she had alighted. Despite these lukewarm experiences, Miao Lan always chooses to respond with kindness.

On her daily trips to patients’ homes, Miao Lan offers spare masks to drivers who pick her up, especially when she notices that their masks are worn-out or soiled. To her, this is a little gesture to better protect them and their passengers.

A shelter of hope for those under her care. Miao Lan’s pursuit of personal and professional growth has allowed her to provide quality care for HCA patients.

After 37 years, Miao Lan continues to stay true to her roots in nursing, providing an excellent standard of care for her patients. Her fervent pursuit for personal and professional growth has allowed her to branch out, acquiring both depth and breadth in the field. Coupled with her passion for nursing and care, Miao Lan is a steadfast pillar of support and shelter of hope for those who come under her care.