Foreign nurses in Singapore detail their struggles in new book

Alexandra Hospital nurses Myint Myint Than (left) and Mya Thandar holding Missy Reflections II, the book they co-wrote. PHOTO: ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL

SINGAPORE - For palliative care nurse Myint Myint Than, her job is a daily reminder of two important people in her life.

She was an oncology nurse, but decided to switch to palliative care to pick up the skills to help care for her ageing mother and mother-in-law.

But it was not to be, as both the elders died in Myanmar two weeks apart last July due to Covid-19.

Ms Myint Myint Than is one of 50 nurses featured in Alexandra Hospital's (AH) book titled Missy Reflections II. It is the second book launched by the hospital. Missy is a colloquial term for nurse.

The first Missy Reflections was launched last year and highlighted AH nurses' milestones in their careers, including during the pandemic.

The new book tackles the struggles faced by male nurses, the challenges foreign nurses experience as they are away from home and how nurses take care of their mental well-being.

The 100-page book, launched on Wednesday (July 27), is available in digital format on AH's website. Hard copies will be distributed to the Singapore Nurses Association, libraries, 16 acute and community hospitals, nursing students and selected nursing homes.

The book comes ahead of Singapore Nurses' Day, which falls on Aug 1.

Alexandra Hospital's book titled Missy Reflections II. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL

Ms Myint Myint Than, 53, who has been working in Singapore as a nurse since 2001, expressed appreciation for the support of her colleagues at AH after the deaths of her mother and mother-in-law. Her husband, who is from Myanmar, works here and they have one daughter, 29, who lives with them.

She ended up specialising in palliative care, where she has had to deal with death on a regular basis. It has not been easy, but she has been able to maintain a positive spirit with support from her colleagues and family.

"I have learnt to think positively while missing them and remember them by the happy memories I have with them," she said.

Ms Mya Thandar, another nurse at AH who is also from Myanmar, also struggled with not being able to care for her family during the worsening Covid-19 situation in Myanmar last year.

Due to Covid-19 travel curbs then, the 32-year-old senior staff nurse at AH's Integrated Care Clinic was not able to visit her family there. But when she learnt that her parents tested positive for Covid-19, she immediately sent health supplements and flu medicine to them.

AH nurses conceived of, wrote and edited the book while the photos in it were taken by the hospital's head of allied health Melvin Poon.

Efforts to get Missy Reflections II out were led by AH chief nurse Margaret Lee.

She said: "By having this collection of reflections, the public can have a better insight on what nursing entails. It is also a testimony to our nurses that their stories mean a lot."

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