President's Award for Nurses

Nurse believes in continued education and research to improve patient care

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.

Dr Alice Chua attends to a patient at the National Cancer Centre. PHOTO: NATIONAL CANCER CENTRE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - In believing that nurses are in the best position to effect transformation in their patients' journey to recovery, Dr Alice Chua has always been a strong believer in research and continued education to address her patients' changing needs.

The nursing practice doctorate graduate is the assistant director of nursing at the National Cancer Centre Singapore and an Advanced Practice Nurse, where she specialises in oncology nursing with a focus on patients with head and neck cancers.

Dr Chua, 44, is the nurse lead at the Allied Health Professional Clinic at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Head and Neck Centre, which is a one-stop clinic that helps patients in their post-operation recovery process.

She not only ensures that each patient receives a high standard of personalised care, but she also goes the extra mile to steer them towards recovery.

When she realised that a number of her patients faced speech difficulties after surgery, Dr Chua donated the money from her SingHealth GCEO Award Outstanding Nurse Award in 2017 to purchase portable electronic writing tools for their use.

She also helped to source for effective and affordable communication aids for their long-term recovery.

On a personal trip to Taiwan, Dr Chua bought pneumatic speaking valves that can help make speaking easier for her patients, which were later tested and approved for use by the Health Sciences Authority.

This "compassion to care for people" has come second nature to her after being in the nursing profession for some 24 years, Dr Chua said.

"After seeing so many patients with varying kinds of medical conditions, I think the biggest push factor for me is to see them recover."

Dr Alice Chua (right) mentors a nurse at the National Cancer Centre. PHOTO: NATIONAL CANCER CENTRE SINGAPORE

Last year, she obtained her doctorate in nursing practice from the School of Nursing at Duke University, where she gathered research findings on oncological care and learned to translate these into projects aimed at improving the standard of care for her patients.

As a member of the National Cancer Centre Singapore's nursing research committee, Dr Chua has also led six research studies, focusing on different aspects of optimising the care given to patients, and shortening their length of hospitalisation.

"I think it's important to stay on top of current trends and practices through continued research and education, especially so with a constantly changing healthcare landscape," she said.

"That way, we will then be able to value-add to our patients and guide them safely along their recovery journey," she added.

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