Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Health

Making the switch, relishing the challenges

For Ms Ong Shu Fen, community nursing requires her to think on her feet and be a lot more independent. She relishes the challenges, and says the rapport with patients is very strong, such that "sometimes they come to feel like your friends".
For Ms Ong Shu Fen, community nursing requires her to think on her feet and be a lot more independent. She relishes the challenges, and says the rapport with patients is very strong, such that "sometimes they come to feel like your friends".ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Ms Ong Shu Fen decided to make the switch to community nursing 21/2 years ago, after two years of working in a hospital ward.

Her current role requires her to think on her feet and be a lot more independent, challenges that she relishes.

"The learning curve is very steep; your skills must be very good and you need to know a lot," said the 28-year-old senior staff nurse. "In the hospital... you have the help of speciality nurses, but you don't have that in people's homes."

For example, after conducting a physical examination, she has to draw her own conclusions on what the patient needs before she speaks with a doctor.

"The consultant will ask you what you think is happening, so you really need to have critical thinking skills," said Ms Ong, who is on Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's ageing-in-place community care team.

She also has to deal with sensitive social issues, such as discussing end-of-life care with her patients' family members.

"The rapport you build with the patients is very strong," she said.

"In the hospital, you see them only until they are discharged, but in community care, you see them for months and sometimes they come to feel like your friends."

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Making the switch, relishing the challenges'. Print Edition | Subscribe