Every action counts

January 2019

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my nursing journey so far, it’s this: Every little thing you do as a nurse makes a difference to your patients.

My story in healthcare began in secondary school, when I was a St John cadet. Being in St John not only taught me the basics of first aid, but also the joy of being able to reach out to those in need and help improve their lives, no matter how small the impact. You can say that the experiences I have gleaned from St John cemented my decision to enter nursing school.

As a young nursing student at the Institute of Technical Education College East, I encountered a patient who always seemed to be in low spirits. In addition to refusing food and drinks, he rejected his medication and all other treatment options. I was warned by a fellow nurse to be very careful with him as he would get agitated easily.

I became apprehensive in caring for this volatile patient, and tried to avoid contact with him as much I could. However, as fate would have it, I chanced upon him sobbing one day. My heart went out to him. Even though I feared his wrath, I worked up the courage to speak to him. To my astonishment, he opened up to me and began sharing about his personal struggles and the issues he faced. I was speechless after hearing his story, and found out that I was the only one who knew his story. Not even the medical social worker knew! I told him the first thing that popped into my head. "Don't be afraid, I'm here for you and I will help to get you back on your feet to the best of my ability."

I still remember his reply to this day. He wiped his face dry, gave me a wan smile and said, “This is the best help anyone has ever rendered to me. Continue caring with a smile on your face.”

When I returned to the ward after the weekend, he was the first to greet me – and with a big smile! During the nurses’ handover, I heard from my colleagues that he had a change of heart and accepted all the treatments given to him. You have no idea how I felt when I heard this; I was incredibly gratified to hear that my words had changed his outlook on life! When he was about to be discharged a few weeks later, he thanked me once more before he left. This made me realise that my actions as a nurse, however inconsequential they may seem initially, can make a difference to my patients.

Spenser (first from right) during his A&E attachment at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

After graduating from ITE College East, I decided to further my nursing studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. For those who are contemplating nursing, why not give it a shot? You never know until you try! People always have the perception that nursing is only for those with less than satisfactory grades. That is far from the truth. I have classmates who enter nursing school with excellent grades and straight As. I also have friends who said nursing chose them because of their “bad grades”. But you know what? They are some of the most respectable nurses I ever know.

I am Spenser Ang, a year 3 nursing student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. I want to be a paramedic with The Singapore Civil Defence Force or a trauma nurse at the A&E department because I enjoy the adrenaline rush which comes with the job. No matter what the future holds, one thing for sure – I know l want to be in the “helping” profession – providing assistance to those in need.