In truth, I was utterly clueless about my future as a teenager. Even though I was enrolled in a digital media design course at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), I knew it was not what I wanted after just one semester. Deep down, I wanted to be in a profession that touched lives and made a difference. That was when I chanced upon the mid-intake nursing diploma programme at NYP. Suddenly, everything clicked into place – this was what I was meant to do! I decided to apply and the rest, as they say, is history. Thinking back, it could have been my time in St John Singapore that shaped my desire to help others in need.
I started my nursing career in the acute care sector, where I worked in the high dependency and intensive care units. At that time, I noticed a gap in the healthcare system. Patients who were discharged from the hospital did not receive adequate aftercare when they returned to their homes in the community. In addition, the hospital attachments during my advanced diploma days showed me that there was more to nursing beyond just acute care in the hospitals.
When the opportunity to switch to community care at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital (KWSH) knocked at my door last year, I decided to go ahead and try something new! My main role at the nursing home is to spearhead training efforts for community nursing. Together with my colleagues, I set up a dedicated training centre for the community care sector: The Community Training Institute @ KWSH. Community care is of growing importance given Singapore’s ageing population, and there is a need to train and groom nursing leaders for the sector. My colleagues and I hope that the training centre will be the solution to this issue. In addition, I work closely with nurse clinicians and nurse educators to develop and conduct in-house courses. I relish being in community care as I am empowered to make decisions on patient care and training. There are also more chances to interact with residents, as well as to understand their lifestyle and health habits as many of them stay for the long-term. This allows us to make a real impact in their lives.
Sam (middle) with his colleagues during a volunteer event organised by KWSH.
My time at KWSH has also allowed me to witness the dedication and commitment of our community care nurses who go the extra mile for residents. They have no qualms about sacrificing their off-days to escort the residents to the many outdoor activities organised by the nursing home. Some have also taken up language courses to better connect with the residents. These may be simple acts, but I feel that they put in the effort to make life better for the residents in the home.
In addition to my role at the hospital, I am an adjunct lecturer at the National University of Singapore’s Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies. There is a need for talented nurses to lead the community care of the future, and I hope to encourage more students to join the community care sector through my lessons.
While the government can easily provide the “hardware”, it is the “heartware” that truly makes a difference to the healthcare landscape. I believe it is up to nursing to step up and lead the new frontier of community care.
I am Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital Senior Nurse Clinician Dr Sam Goh and I am proud of what I do every day.