Nurses reflect on their experiences in new book

Featuring 55 nurses, it is written and edited by AH nurses; digital copy can be accessed for free

From left: Alexandra Hospital chief nurse Margaret Lee; nurse manager Kelvin Chong; a recovered Covid-19 patient who wanted to be known only as Mr Ng; and senior nurse Tan Poh Hoon. The nurses' experiences are part of a new book, Missy Reflections (b
From left: Alexandra Hospital chief nurse Margaret Lee; nurse manager Kelvin Chong; a recovered Covid-19 patient who wanted to be known only as Mr Ng; and senior nurse Tan Poh Hoon. The nurses' experiences are part of a new book, Missy Reflections, which was launched yesterday.ST PHOTOS: JASON QUAH

Nurse manager Kelvin Chong does not need reminding of the challenges, pain and heartbreak that occur every day in a busy hospital, having experienced both sides of the picture.

Mr Chong, 40, who is featured in a new book lauding the efforts of Alexandra Hospital (AH) nurses over the years, is one of many front-liners who have helped in the fight against H1N1, Zika and Covid-19 in the past 14 years.

His inspiration for becoming a nurse came about 20 years ago when he broke both his legs in an accident and was confined to a hospital ward for two months.

The then salesman could not walk for a year after that and was told to leave his job.

His elder brother was also a nurse and this eventually persuaded him to join the profession.

Mr Chong started his nursing career at the National University Hospital (NUH) before transferring to AH three years ago, where he is now nurse manager at the 24-Hour Urgent Care Centre.

At the peak of the pandemic, he and his wife, an NUH nurse, were unable to care for their sons, who were then aged six months and eight years, so they had to seek help from Mr Chong's parents.

The experience taught Mr Chong to be more appreciative of life: "Life is unpredictable, especially when you see how Covid-19 has changed humanity. I treasure life with these small gestures to remind me of life's unpredictability. It gives you a sense of strength and you can carry on."

Mr Chong's experiences are featured in the new book, Missy Reflections, which was launched yesterday at AH. Missy is a colloquial term for nurse.

The book's creation was led by chief nurse Margaret Lee, 44.

She said: "As nurses, we are in a privileged position to connect with people from all walks of life in the course of our work.


From left: Alexandra Hospital chief nurse Margaret Lee; nurse manager Kelvin Chong; a recovered Covid-19 patient who wanted to be known only as Mr Ng; and senior nurse Tan Poh Hoon. The nurses' experiences are part of a new book, Missy Reflections (abpve), which was launched yesterday. ST PHOTOS: JASON QUAH

"Lessons come alive in our practice environment through the patients we care for, the caregivers we support and the colleagues from all job groups we collaborate with in the service of health and healthcare."

Ms Lee hopes the book will allow the public to understand more about the nursing profession: "I really hope that if we can share this with the wider community, it will serve to not just aspire, but also let them have different viewpoints of nursing."

AH nurses conceived, wrote and edited the book while the hospital's medical board chairman, Associate Professor Khoo See Meng, provided the illustrations.

It features 61 reflections from 55 nurses, including two from the post-war British military colonial administration.

The public can access a digital copy of Missy Reflections for free on AH's website.

A recovered Covid-19 patient, who wished to be known only as Mr Ng, presented a bouquet of sunflowers to Ms Lee at the book's launch.

Mr Ng, a 30-year-old welding consultant, recalled that when he was at Alexandra Hospital between mid-February and early March last year, the nurses would sit outside the wards to ensure that patients did not fall when they got up at night. Some of the nurses would do this even during their break time.

"To me, this image is the strongest... and I think that speaks volumes of their care and love for the patients."

AH chief executive Jason Phua noted at the book's launch: "Nurses, like all of us, are also human, and it is actually incredibly difficult to be always beside a patient or a family that is suffering.

"It is uplifting and inspiring in a way, but it is also difficult and draining at the same time. I am sure the nurses feel it even more because they are always with the patients.

"They say heroes come in capes. I say no, heroes come in nursing scrubs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2021, with the headline 'Nurses reflect on their experiences in new book'. Subscribe