Blessing to help others, says longtime nurse
From a Thai sex worker who spoke of black magic to a former Minister of Education who taught her how to cultivate her children's interest in learning, Ms Elaine Ng has seen all kinds of patients over her three decades in nursing.
Nurses' Day, commemorated on Aug 1 in Singapore, serves as an occasion for the nation to show gratitude to nurses.
Ms Ng, who's the group head of nursing at IHH Healthcare, had wanted to be a nurse since she was 14 years old.
A Red Cross member in secondary school, she had done a lot of voluntary work and found great meaning in being a nurse.
Said Ms Ng: "I found it very fulfilling because I could touch people's lives. I feel that it is a blessing to be able to help others."
But her parents were against her decision.
Ms Ng explained: "My family felt that nurses had to do a lot of 'dirty' and hard work and wanted me to be a teacher instead. But I believed that if everybody thought this way, there will be no one to do the job."
She chose to follow her passion instead, and it paid off.
Ms Ng, who is in her early 50s, now frequently travels to Parkway Pantai hospitals in Malaysia, India, Hong Kong and China, spending half of her time overseas.
"We're there not only to share our expertise, but also to learn from other countries their culture, constraints, challenges and strengths," said Ms Ng.
Being a nurse can be an emotional roller-coaster, and she has seen her fair share of tragedy.
When she was with the resuscitation team at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department, she never expected to have to try to revive a fellow nurse's son.
He had been knocked down by a truck, and could not be revived despite gruelling hours of resuscitation.
"It was very emotional, but we had to manage our emotions and the whole team's emotions," said Ms Ng.
"The relatives depend on us to give advice, so we have to control our feelings and maintain our professionalism in front of them. If we want to cry, we'll have to walk away."
To aspiring nurses, Ms Ng's advice is to be passionate, perseverant, professional and patient-focused.
She added: "Always remember why you want to be a nurse. Nursing is never easy, so you have to constantly reignite the passion in you."