The SUPERnurse-next-door

September 2018

I was just like any other student. I struggled with my studies and lacked the confidence to perform the skills I learnt in nursing school. After graduating, through sheer hard work and determination, I managed to excel at work and was given opportunities to upgrade myself. More than a decade has passed, and now I teach at my alma mater, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East.

At sixteen, not many of us would know the path to take, but I did. It was nursing. Sitting beside my grandfather just before his passing, I witnessed first-hand how much help and solace a nurse could provide their patients with, especially at their most fragile and vulnerable moments. That was when I knew that this was it for me.

I recall the perturbed faces of my family members when I told them of my decision. Like most, they were concerned about the “dirty” aspects of the job: Dealing with bodily fluids, secretions and at times, even death. They were not convinced I could excel and that I would just abandon the course halfway. However, I remained spirited and enrolled for the Nitec in Nursing course at ITE College East, and graduated in 2005. What stood out for me during the course was how supportive our lecturers were. No matter how much my classmates and I struggled during our clinical attachments, they were always there to guide and back us up.

I continued to upgrade myself with a diploma in nursing, followed by a degree in nursing and an advanced diploma in critical care, hoping that I could follow in the footsteps of my preceptors and lecturers and impart my knowledge and experience to younger batches of nurses. This may seem cliché, but it was their passion and dedication that had piqued my interest to be a nursing educator. I wanted to be just like them!

I took every chance to teach my junior nurses as an opportunity to build my confidence and experience. After some time, I took a leap of faith and applied for a position as a nursing educator. What excited me most was going back to where my journey had begun – my alma mater.

They say the first steps are always the hardest – indeed it was for me. Once, I woke up a student who was sleeping in class. He responded with agitation and his subsequent feedback on my lectures were often negative. Being a new full-time nursing lecturer, I doubted my own calibre. Could it be that I was not putting in enough effort in my classes? Or maybe I was not engaging enough? These questions would not stop running through my mind!

Joyce (first row, second from right) with her energetic group of students from ITE College East.

Unlike a clinical nurse by the bedside, being a nurse educator requires a different skillset altogether. It is not simply regurgitating information from the nursing curriculum, but customising my teaching methods to suit the various learning needs of my students. With guidance from my senior lecturers, I improved my teaching skills. Instead of focusing on the storm, I learnt to dance in the rain instead.

My nursing journey has had its fair shares of highs and lows but each obstacle brings me back to why I started in the first place. There is always something for me to learn every other day that makes me a SUPERnurse. “SUPER” stands for:

S: Smile because it brightens up the patients’ day and lifts their spirits

U: Understand and empathise with your patients

P: People-oriented instead of task-oriented – humans are not machines and they need love and care

E: Enthusiasm towards your nursing journey – you are saving the lives of many

R: Reliable care for patients – your patients deserve nothing but the best

My name is Joyce Ho, a nursing educator from ITE College East and I want to continue inspiring others to be SUPERnurses too!