Manga captures the trials and tribulations of S'pore nursing students during Covid-19 pandemic

The graphic novel chronicles the experiences of a group of nursing students as they learn to administer care. PHOTO: NUS YONG LOO LIN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

SINGAPORE - The struggles and triumphs of nursing students here amid the coronavirus pandemic fill the pages of a manga to be launched in May by the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies at the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Nursing).

The graphic novel, titled Licence To Care, chronicles the experiences of a group of nursing students as they learn to administer care while overcoming personal challenges and learning lessons about empathy and compassion.

About 200 pages long, it was written by television director, writer and producer Lydia Shah and illustrated by artist Dan Wong.

It will be launched on May 12 to coincide with International Nurses Day, and is meant to provide insights and information about life at the School of Medicine, as well as introduce readers, in a creative way, to the joys and struggles nurses face.

Professor Chong Yap Seng, the school's dean, said: "(The graphic novel) is a tribute to all nurse practitioners in the world who have stayed the course in caring for their patients above their own needs, through the toil of the Covid-19 pandemic."

The story follows five students at NUS Nursing, who are called to the front line during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They face misunderstandings from their families and society as they learn to care for vulnerable patients and serve quarantine orders as close contacts of Covid-19-positive patients.

The story was conceptualised with the help of faculty members, students and alumni of NUS Nursing, who shared their nursing journey, their experiences in school and at clinical attachments as undergraduates, as well as the expectations and misunderstandings they often faced from family, friends and society.

Alumni and educators at the school also reviewed the book and gave input.

Professor Emily Ang, head of NUS Nursing and group chief nurse of the National University Health System, said it was fitting that the manga was created during the Covid-19 pandemic, which highlighted the psycho-social challenges that nurses face. They have faced such challenges even when not in the midst of a global health emergency.

"They are abused and sometimes shunned by unthinking members of the public, as well as kith and kin, who believe that healthcare workers carry pathogens, and have to cope with workplace anxieties and mental stress, all while handling the ardours of hospital shift work," said Prof Ang.

Prof Chong added: "We hope that readers will be able to enjoy and appreciate the discoveries, delight and struggles which our students go through in the journey of pursuing medicine or nursing as a lifelong vocation."

Licence To Care is on sale for $24.90 on its publisher Epigram Books' website, as well as at bookstores.

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