International Nurses’ Day 2021

Dedicated to the job, nurses are indispensable. Photo: Bernama

May 12 is celebrated annually as International Nurses’ Day, as it is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Joyce The found her calling as a nurse, and shares her journey and experiencecaring for people physically, mentally and emotionally.

Caring for physical and mental wellbeing

Joyce The

The five-letter word ‘nurse’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a person trained to care for the sick or infirm, especially in a hospital.” However, many have regarded the position as just someone who cleans up after the sick. But, being a nurse is much more than getting your hands dirty.

Speaking to nurse Joyce The, she shared that nurses don’t just clean up after patient’s waste and merely change their diapers. “Nurses are not followers of a doctor, but a partner to discuss better care for our patients. We work as a team together to achieve a better outcome.” 

In conjunction with International Nurses’ Day this year, Joyce hopes that more nurses will be empowered to lead, voice their opinions and be recognised. “I hope that many would listen to our needs, and to invest more resources for nurses to improve knowledge and skills.” 

Passionate in caring for the sick, Joyce chose nursing as it aligned with her interest to care for people physically, mentally and emotionally. “I also like nursing for its daily human interactions, which I believe is a direct way to show care and love to my patients.” 

Remembering her early days in nursing classes, she was content with what her lecturer’s definition of nursing. The 28-year-old knew then and there that she made the right choice, as she felt that her career and life goals matched perfectly. “It’s like I found my purpose in life.

Since then, my passion for nursing was ignited!” 

Although she was always positive about her career, Joyce conceded that being a nurse is not always a walk in the park. Especially during the pandemic season, where she encountered the biggest challenge — her own health. “I have to maintain my stamina, health, and strong emotional and mental capacity to sustain the prolonged stress of working during the pandemic.”

Joyce said that nurses should be empowered to lead and voice their opinions.

According to Joyce, nurses today are overworked and most suffer from burnout due to the uncertainties of work. “Many people compliment nurses as heroes during this pandemic season, but a hero needs rest too.” Nevertheless, she sees the challenge as a catalyst for her to strive forward and be better in her profession. “I believe that God will never give us more than we can handle.” 

Aside from that, she said that nowadays, nurses also need to keep up with the latest healthcare research and absorb new information almost on a daily basis. “It becomes a struggle as all of this can be overwhelming — the need to fulfil the high expectations from the hospital, patients and family members,” she added. 

Despite the obstacles, Joyce continues to find motivation in her job. Watching her patients recover and giving her sincere appreciation were enough for her to soldier on. “A simple thank you can melt the heart. Even a small gesture can make the hardships disappear!” To her, nursing made her be a better person as it provides her with a chance for self-development.

“Besides being caring and patient, I learned to listen actively to fulfil my patients’ needs. I also learned to multi-task and work with precision.” 

As nursing covers a vast field, Joyce anticipates a chance to experience working and living overseas. With endless opportunities, Joyce sees a chance to learn more and have better career development. 

Nursing post-pandemic 

Covid-19 has indeed changed everything. Almost every sectors globally have to adapt to the new normal. While some sectors flourished, others deteriorated. One of the sectors that has been working non-stop since the pandemic started is the medical sector, where doctors and nurses are among the core frontliners. 

As a nurse working in the frontline, Joyce had to take up extra burdens to handle the emotional and mental distress of patients. “Patients and family members are constantly feeling more anxious and distressed during this pandemic season. We need to be there to provide emotional support and consistent care to our patients.” 

In addition, the pandemic also see the enforcement of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that needed to be adhered to. Nurses must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when taking care of positive cases. “This has indeed increased our workload. As the cases keep increasing, we are requested to work longer hours too. I have been assigned to work 12-hour shifts when taking care of Covid-19 patients. Working long hours with full PPE has been very challenging,” she said. 

Not one to easily give up, Joyce maintained a positive attitude throughout her work. When she is not at work, she focuses on self-care by ensuring she gets enough rest and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. As a spiritual believer, she also sees spiritual support as a vital component to overcome the trials and tribulations.  

As the pandemic sees her spending more time at the hospital, she tries to open her mind to continue learning about the virus. “Knowing the ways to take care of Covid patients help me cope better. I also see that I am not alone on this battlefield, all health care providers have been working together to curb this pandemic. “This has given me the strength to continue serving. Hopefully all of our hard work will pay off soon!” 

Experience is the best teacher

Joyce recalled a moment that kept her on her feet when she was a junior nurse. “During that time, I was taking care of a patient who was admitted for pulmonary oedema. She was on oxygen therapy, and in the middle of the night, she loses her breath and only relied on the accessory muscles to breathe,” she said. 

Joyce said that she did not alert the physician and decided to only monitor the patient. “In reality, to excrete the excess fluid from the patient’s body required medication which can only be prescribed by a physician. Fortunately, my senior had taken immediate action to call up the physician to ask for the medicine.” 

From there, she realised that her actions could have jeopardised her patient. It also dawned on her how crucial nurses are as the first responder. “After all, we are the ones that are actually by the patients’ side day and night, until they recover.” Joyce admitted that humans often make mistakes and as nurses, she needed to be vigilant in order to perform early intervention.

The caregiver also shared the moment she took care of a diabetic patient who suffered a slow-healing wound. “I remembered how demotivated I was with the slow process of recovery.

“However, amid the slow progress, my patient and his family members continued to put their trust in me, and that motivated me to provide the best care for the patient. Surprisingly, the wound recovered well and no further breakdown happened.” 

Building a good rapport is important to Joyce and at the same time, she admitted that she was inspired by the close relationships she built with patients. “When you spend enough time with someone that they start to feel comfortable with you, they will start to open up and share more personal feelings and thoughts. Besides the medical treatments, this can also provide them with inner healing.” 

Joyce is one of the many amazing individuals who dedicate their lives to caring for someone else. These ‘angels on earth’ spend the most time with a patient and look after every aspect of their mental and physical wellbeing, yet their contributions are often overlooked or taken for granted. Let us not forget these individuals who have put their lives on the line for us to survive during these unprecedented times. Happy International Nurses Day!

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