President's Award for Nurses

Nurse wants to pass on her knowledge to juniors just as her seniors had guided her

The Straits Times speaks to the five nurses who clinched the President's Award for Nurses this year. The award, the highest accolade for the profession in Singapore, recognises nurses who have shown sustained, outstanding performance and contributions to patient care delivery, education, research and administration.

Ms Tay Yee Kian (left), assistant director of nursing at NUHS' Regional Health Office, mentoring a junior community nurse. PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM

SINGAPORE - Realising that elderly residents at nursing homes were particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, Ms Tay Yee Kian stepped up to train community nurses to better care for them.

The assistant director of nursing at the National University Health System's (NUHS) Regional Health Office led her team to supervise the operations set-up for swab testing at 15 nursing homes in the west of Singapore.

She also coached 89 nurses across the homes in infection control measures, such as donning and doffing personal protective equipment, and nasopharyngeal swab testing.

"Some nurses, who were initially very apprehensive, were very appreciative that we were there to provide them with the necessary guidance and support. Some of the nurses even told me proudly that they have trained more of their nursing colleagues to support the swabbings," said Ms Tay, 51.

She also led a team of community nurses in screening and swabbing foreign workers at the dormitories.

Ms Tay, who became a nurse at NUH in 1989, said training and mentoring young nurses have always been her passion.

"I believe that the knowledge I have gained from many seniors before me should be passed on, so that many more can benefit from their wisdom as I have. I hope they can pass this knowledge on to their juniors as well so in this way, our profession can become stronger," added the advanced practice nurse.

Armed with 25 years of in-patient nursing experience, she joined the NUHS Regional Health System Office in 2014 to set up a community nursing unit.

As a community nurse, she worked with patients in their homes.

Ms Tay, 51, on a home visit to a patient. PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM

This is a very different experience from that of working in a hospital setting, she said.

"Our community team does not have equipment or resources such as those available in the hospital. This requires us to be innovative, adaptable and clinically adept, so that we can continue to provide care to our patients," said Ms Tay, who is currently leading a team of more than 50 nurses and allied health professionals to develop community nursing in the western part of Singapore.

Ms Tay said she feels blessed and honoured to receive the President's Award for Nurses.

"This award speaks for the growing significance of community nursing in Singapore - increasingly, care is being provided in the community and in homes of patients, as we adopt a patient-centric perspective and bring care to patients."

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