Two days after a woman died in hospital following a heart attack, her children waited at a ward to thank Ms Karen Koh for the help she had given.
Until that point, Ms Koh, 38, had "never felt the higher calling to be a nurse". She had taken up a career in nursing as it married her interests in biomedical science and hospitality.
Yesterday, the advanced practice nurse at National University Hospital received the President's Award for Nurses from President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana. Her achievements include setting up a clinical service that slashed the time that heart patients have to wait for an appointment from three months to one.
She was one of four recipients of the award, along with Madam Sim Lai Kiow, Madam Ng Wai May and Mr Yong Keng Kwang.
Madam Sim developed guidelines at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to help other nurses advise patients on resuscitation efforts.
The 57-year-old clinician nurse, who also specialises in palliative care, visits elderly patients at their homes in her spare time. "This award is a huge encouragement and I'll continue to be a pillar of emotional support for my patients in the last lap of their journey," she said.
Madam Ng, 39, an advanced practice nurse, set up the stroke clinic at National Neuroscience Institute. Mr Yong, 43, introduced a system of co-governance at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, in which nurses can elect council members to partake in policymaking processes that involve nursing education, practice and work-life balance.
"This award represents my colleagues' affirmation," said the nursing director. "They all helped by giving testimonials."
The 15th annual award ceremony was attended by about 650 people, mostly from the nursing community, as well as Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and MPs Lily Neo and Chia Shi-Lu.