In Singapore, nursing is one profession that everyone has something to say about.
Some might consider it a less-than-appealing (basically a crappy) job that doesn't require much skills or brainpower. Other (nicer) people will say it’s a “noble” career choice.
Then, there are many others who find it as intriguing and mysterious as deep space.
Samantha Yap, is a registered nurse and self-proclaimed 'highly paid sh*t cleaner' (her words, not ours) who started on this path when she was only 16.
She recently hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, and the DoctorxDentist community had plenty of questions for her which she was gracious enough to answer.
Being a nurse is the ultimate test of patience
Fact: Almost everyone in the hospital is usually in a bad mood, because nobody likes being hospitalized.
According to Sam, you often have to deal with patients buzzing you every hour to vent their frustrations.
This may be because they've been fasting since 8 am for a scan, or simply because they are craving for some attention to feel better.
Now, multiply this by 10 hours a day, 6 days per week, and you get some idea of what nurses have to deal with on a daily basis in Singapore.
Time management is key to keeping everyone sane
Picture this: it's already 8:30 am, but the following tasks were meant to have been completed before 8 am:
- Tube feeding sessions for patients unable to eat solid foods
- Routine medication rounds for patients
- Pre-meal medications for diabetic patients who need their insulin before they eat (and their food has already been served!)
Why hasn't any one else helped? I'm glad you asked!
It's because all your team members are also busy struggling with their own patients.
1. One has demanded to take a shower before breakfast, and needs assistance.
2. Another patient who can't walk is insisting on going to the toilet himself to pee.
3. And oh no, the ah gong with dementia is getting out of bed, and has to be attended to right before he falls!
This is how Sam describes a regular day at the hospital. She emphasised to a reader that proper time management is key to working as a nurse in Singapore.
Nurses are just as important as doctors in a patient's recovery
All too often, Singaporeans subconsciously (and sometimes even deliberately) give doctors more respect than nurses. But here's the truth: a patient's recovery is a joint effort.
It's teamwork and synergy that saves lives, which is why nurses are just as important as doctors (ok?!).
Yes, doctors and nurses do date within the same hospital
According to Samantha, there are a couple of doctor-nurse, nurse-nurse, nurse-physio, doctor-doctor pairings at the hospital she works at.
However, she's not interested in any co-worker/ doctor-nurse kind of relationship. To quote, "don’t eat where you shit!"
Handling private parts isn't awkward because...
Most of the time, there's no need to touch a younger patient’s genitals. However, in situations where a younger patient required help, he or she would usually be sedated, hence the situation wouldn't be awkward at all.
"I pay you your salary hor!" Do you really?
Of course, not all Singaporeans are demanding and ungrateful, but Sam has encountered her fair share of meanies.
It really isn't nice when patients say things like “I PAY YOU YOUR SALARY HOR!”.
If nurses serve you Milo, it's because they are being extra super duper nice, and not because it's part of their job description.
Nurses place their own health on the line for patients
One reader asked, "Do you find that you fall sick more often, being around sick patients all the time?"
Sam confirmed that as a nurse, she does indeed find herself falling sick more frequently.
Worst of all, she's even been told off by patients for falling ill - "How are patients going to trust you to take care of them, when you can't take care of your own body?”
It’s just another reason to appreciate nurses. They take care of our sick bodies, even when their own bodies are falling apart!
Open flesh wounds vs poop, which is worse?
Sam's response? It's not so much the sights, but the smells that can be overwhelming at times.
You'd think that she'd have "smelled it all", but certain odours such as infected bed sores or a necrotic foot can still knock her off her stride!
It may not seem like it, but nursing's actually a fulfilling job
In reply to a nursing student who asked what was the most rewarding aspect of being a nurse, Sam stated that she found most satisfaction in being able to nurse a patient to full recovery.
“You'll understand me when you finally become a nurse yourself, and your patients recognize you in public, and come up to tell you how you made their stay more enjoyable. It's an indescribable feeling.”
We should all appreciate nurses more!
Being a nurse can be one of the most fulfilling things you do in your life. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Hopefully, these insights into Samantha’s life and work can help put things into perspective and make Singaporeans think about appreciating their nurses just a little more.
You can read Sam's full Ask Me Anything (AMA) session here.
DoctorxDentist's Ask Me Anything (AMA) enables open health conversations between readers, health professionals and patients from all walks of life. View the complete list of upcoming DoctorxDentist AMAs here.
If you are a patient or health professional who's interested in hosting an AMA to share your story, please email email@example.com. Our team will contact you with more details.
- Livornese K et al. The Emotional Well-Being of Nurses and Nurse Leaders in Crisis. Nurs Adm Q.(2017)
- 6 Things You Need To Know Before Becoming A Nurse. Nurse.org. February 12 2018