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As a Staff Nurse under the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP), Sarah Ong Le En is trained in many nursing services, such as caring for patients with acute illnesses, performing diabetic foot screening, retinal photography, and providing wound care, just to name a few.
These are the ways she shows her care for others and impacts the lives of people. “Nursing is my calling, to serve others and be of help whenever possible,” she says.
Since her junior college days, she had always been interested in the healthcare sector as she was involved in weekly community work at a nursing home.
“I was inspired by the selflessness displayed by the nurses and the way they cared for the elders. That spurred me on to join the nursing profession,” Sarah recalls.
The support and encouragement of her family and friends also played a pivotal role in encouraging her to pursue her dreams. This led her to apply for the Healthcare Merit Award offered by MOH Holdings (MOHH).
“My family and friends played a big part in supporting and encouraging me. They are the reason why I started my career in nursing and they have helped me along each step of the journey,” she said with a smile.
“I remember shadowing a nurse at St Andrew’s Community Hospital before I applied for the scholarship. The nurse whom I shadowed was very encouraging and shared the roles and responsibilities of nurses. She also shared the various career paths a nurse can have after graduating.”
The Healthcare Merit Award paved a pathway for her to take up the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) with Honours programme at NUS.
“The scholarship was attractive as there were many opportunities presented to us. We had the chance to go for overseas internship programmes and join students from the different healthcare professions in various events and networking sessions,” Sarah shares. I was also attracted by the development pathway they had in mind for scholars, and I knew that it will be a journey that is meaningful and purpose-filled.”
The nursing programme at NUS which focuses on research in the final year provided her with theoretical knowledge, writing practice and nursing skills, which she currently applies to the various nursing services in NHGP.
One of the proudest moments for Sarah was getting her nursing journal published in her final year at university. It was a result of her hard work and dedication as well as the strong support that she received from NHGP.
Sarah said: “I worked closely with research nurses and staff from NHGP. We discussed the research needs of the organisation and eventually came up with a research question for my thesis. They were very supportive and helped me coordinate various interviews and meetings with the nurses participating in my research project.”
Sarah is constantly given training opportunities to grow at NHGP. She is currently undergoing more in-depth training to manage patients with moderate to high-risk diabetic foot conditions and is part of the research team in the clinic working on various topics with her colleagues.
“We have regular training opportunities and specifically for NHGP, there are many nursing services available in the polyclinic and a chance to learn different aspects of care from infants to the elderly. That is something attractive about being a nurse in primary care, providing diverse yet very specialised care,” she explains.
Looking ahead, Sarah hopes to be trained as a Care Manager to manage patients and empower them with the knowledge of different chronic conditions so that they can better manage their conditions. She also aspires to be involved in more research projects that would add value and be of clinical importance to patients.
Sarah shared that teamwork, communication skills and listening skills are important in the role of a nurse as nurses work with doctors, pharmacists and allied health professionals. They also interact a lot with patients and their families. Resilience is also important as there are many challenges and might be emotionally and physically tiring at times.
The journey thus far has been very fulfilling for Sarah and she hopes to continue making a difference in the lives of her patients each day.
Sarah said, “As a nurse, it warms my heart when I know that what I do, makes a difference in my patients’ lives. I personally feel a great sense of satisfaction when my patients’ condition improves, and they feel better. Helping them understand their condition and bridging the knowledge gap they have through patient education gives me a lot of satisfaction. I would encourage those who want to make a difference in the lives of others, small or big to join nursing as there is fulfilment in the service itself.”
This article was first published in BrightSparks Magazine February 2023. Republished with permission from CareerBuilder Singapore.