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President’s Award for Nurses 2019: A reflection



​Three Chief Nurses from different health sectors (acute, primary and community care), one Deputy Director of Nursing and one Deputy Director from the education sector… and one thing unites them all. They are all recipients of this year’s President’s Award for Nurses – an award held in the highest esteem by the nursing fraternity. More than 70 nurses have since been recognised since the award’s inauguration in 2000 for their incredible contributions to the profession, as well as society at large. Their stories, below.


Ms Samantha Ong, Chief Nurse, Institute of Mental Health


Nursing embodies the values I hold dear to me: Integrity, lifelong learning, excellence, mastery and connection. I take them with me as I lead the nursing transformation journey in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). My aim is to take mental health nursing practices to greater heights. At IMH, we put great emphasis on evidence-based research and practices in our interventions. One example is IMH’s adoption of the recovery and rehabilitative model of care, which recognises patients’ potential for recovery and re-integration into the community. I also believe in empowering nurses to have autonomy and accountability in decision-making as well as providing care.

Beyond my individual accomplishments, this award also goes out to the people in my life who have supported and cared for me. Without them, I would not be who I am today. I am both honoured and grateful for this recognition. 

Outside IMH, I am an advisor to the Psychiatric Nurses Chapter – a sub-group under the Singapore Nurses Association that aims to raise the profile of mental health nurses in Singapore. In that capacity, I have been actively organising and participating in meaningful activities such as health screening for elderly residents in Punggol, and the World Mental Health Awareness Day.

Being a nurse is a privilege. As nurses, we see people from all walks of life during their most intimate, challenging and frightening moments – and we stay right by their side to provide care and concern. It is an incredible job, and I am proud to be a nurse!


Ms Jancy Mathews, Chief Nurse, National University Polyclinics


Receiving the President’s Award for Nurses has been an affirmation of my career choice and my decision to move from an acute setting to primary healthcare. Needless to say, I feel deeply honoured and blessed to be recognised at the national level.

As nurses, we are in a special position to care for and make a difference in the lives of people. Personally, nursing has given me many opportunities to play a part in improving clinical quality and processes. In 2010, I championed the development of an electronic immunisation system to error-proof the administration of vaccinations for adults. More recently in 2018, my team and I implemented transcutaneous bilirubinometry, a painless method to screen for jaundice in neonates. This implementation paved the way for the service to be provided in all polyclinics in Singapore.

Beyond upholding clinical quality standards and improving nursing processes, another area that I place great emphasis on is people development. I believe I have created an environment where nurses feel free to voice their concerns for themselves and for their patients, and where there is room for them to grow to reach their fullest potential. 

Next year, Singapore will be celebrating its 135th year of nursing. The World Health Organisation has also designated 2020 to be the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honour of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birth anniversary. To commemorate these milestones, something special is coming the nurses’ way, and I am thrilled to be leading the resource committee behind this “surprise”!


Ms Jenny Sim Teck Meh, Chief Nurse, Ren Ci Hospital


Community care will always be, and has always been, an area of nursing that interests me – especially so when it comes to the elderly. That passion even transcends the walls of Ren Ci Hospital; I find much joy in befriending the seniors and sick from the community who would attend the clinic run by the church I go to volunteer at. Some of the things I help out with include: Managing their wounds, administering injections, changing of nasogastric tubes and packing of medication. 

To help the elderly age well, physically and mentally, I introduced the Spark of Life approach to lift the spirits of patients with dementia in my institution. To encourage a happy atmosphere in the wards, I also recommended the Person Centered Care approach for my elderly patients – both in the nursing home and chronic sick unit. I wanted my patients to live with dignity as well as feel empowered to achieve their personal goals despite their limitations. 

Nursing is indeed a noble profession. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction as I care for those in need while applying my nursing knowledge. I was very surprised when I first heard the news about winning the award – it was unexpected! 

Cooking and gardening are my hobbies. Just like how I put in much love and care into the dishes I cook and towards my plants, I hope I have done the same for my patients.


Ms Ang Shin Yuh, Deputy Director of Nursing, Singapore General Hospital


I was really surprised to hear that I had won the award! I must admit, it took a week till the good news really sank in. The joy of being awarded the President’s Award overwhelmed me.

Two goals have kept me going in my 17 years of being a nurse: To improve the overall care quality and the way nurses deliver care to patients. One of my favourite projects in the process of achieving these goals is a 3D online simulation game that assesses a nurse’s competency in administering blood and its products in a fun, convenient and safe environment. More recently, I was involved in the development of bedside tablets for our patients, which empower them to take charge of their care plan, allow them to communicate directly with their care team, and provide them with educational resources on managing their conditions. These tablets are being piloted in some Singapore General Hospital wards and will soon be available to patients across SingHealth institutions – I cannot wait to see the positive impact this will have on patient care and experience! 

Students at Curtin University and the Singapore Institute of Technology where I tutor part-time have often heard me say, “Nurses are at the heart and forefront of healthcare, and this makes the profession very dynamic.” I love sharing my experiences and knowledge with students and nurses alike, and I hope these stories will strengthen their interest in nursing and keep them inspired. 

Winning the President’s Award for Nurses is truly an honour, and it will propel me to continue doing more to advance the nursing profession.


Mr Tay Wei Sern, Deputy Director of Health Sciences, Institute of Technical Education (School of Applied and Health Sciences)


Winning the President’s Award for Nurses this year has been incredible but this win is not just about me. It represents the contributions of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) fraternity towards the nation’s healthcare sector – particularly, the School of Applied and Health Sciences from ITE College East. It is the affirmation of the hard work of my fellow colleagues, teachers and even the students… nursing educators and alumni from ITE have won the award not once, not twice, but four times! 

The education model has evolved so much from when I first joined ITE College as a lecturer some 20 years ago. Today, we even have a healthcare simulation centre for students to learn in a safe and risk-free environment. That said, even with the advent of new technologies, I would always remind my students that nursing is still about the heart-work; their patients still need the human touch. After all, these are the qualities that make a nurse: Empathy, compassion and care. 

I hope this award acts as a motivation for all enrolled nurses out there who have graduated from the enrolled nurse education at ITE – all 7,000 of them!