Nursing is a profession that I always admire and respect hence it has always been my dream job since young. There are many questions posed to me to ask and even made judgment towards me on the reason to choose this profession. My response to them was that I was inspired by the spirit of nurses in helping people who are not biologically related to them and hoping that one day, I too, could also contribute such an effort to the community. To achieve my dream, I joined the nursing programme at the International Medical University (IMU) in September 2020.
Clinical placements are crucial for student nurses to improve their clinical skills and expand their knowledge in a practical healthcare setting. As a nursing student in IMU, it is compulsory for us to be attached to designated wards in a hospital in each semester. However, things are always unpredictable. When the COVID-19 pandemic hits globally, our clinical posting was postponed until the pandemic situation improved. Fortunately, I am still able to have a chance to learn and experience clinical attachment during my Semester 4 despite the delay and rescheduling.
My first clinical posting was held in January 2022 at Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar Seremban (HTJS) which is the largest government hospital in Negeri Sembilan. As I have never been to any of the hospitals before, everything in the building looks new and unfamiliar to me. Under the guidance of my Clinical Instructor, I learnt little by little to overcome my anxiety due to all this uncertainty and unfamiliarity. Initially, it is challenging and stressful in integrating knowledge, skills and nursing care in this real-life healthcare setting. However, this real-life experience has provided me a lot of insights that I will never get from textbooks and theories.
During clinical posting, I have met some patients saying that they wanted to die instead of receiving treatment that make them feel terrible. In most of the situations, they are alone and helpless. One of the patients that I can vividly remember is a 64-year-old elderly lady, admitted due to hypertensive emergency. She told me that she has been working as a cleaner in this hospital for more than 10 years and never thought that one day she will be the one lying on the bed in the ward. She asked me about her health condition, saying depressingly that she doesn’t want to receive any treatment as she has seen too much of hopelessness and pain from other patients while working in this hospital, and mentioned that she just wanted to leave with dignity. I was shocked and asked her to share more of her feelings with me. She then added that she was not married and has no children, hence she is worried about how she will be able take care of herself if her disease gets worse. To ease her anxiety, I always tried to find time to talk to her and motivate her to be more positive. I noticed that over time she seems to be more cooperative when I approached her for vital signs checking and blood glucose taking, and more willing to share her feelings with me.
From this incident, I felt that being a nurse is definitely not easy, as we are not only there to ensure patient’s health, but also provide them hope especially at the time when they are down. Too often we underestimate how the power of words, a soft touch, a smile or even the smallest act of caring, can have the potential to turn a life around. Therefore, I found that working as a nurse provided me satisfaction, especially when my effort has really helped those in need.
It’s always a privilege to be a student nurse, as we are often working with people from all walks of life whether young or old during the most difficult time of their lives. However, we also learn from patients about life, either their determination to fight against diseases, or their willingness to open and share their stories with us. I always feel grateful to learn from patients, as sometimes they know more about their own diseases and are so willing to share with me. They are not only teaching me about their condition, but also making me to become a better person. Sometimes I inspire my patients, but more often, they inspire me.
For me, the most difficult part of being a student nurse is to understand each and every patient, and to deliver the best patient-centered care for them. This is so crucial in order to establish rapport with our patients, to obtain their trust and cooperation. However, I will try my best to improve my care so that I can be a safe and competent nurse. With the experiences and knowledge gained throughout my clinical posting, I believe I can perform better in the next posting. I always believe that although our main aim of nursing is to help and care for people, but for nursing students like me, it also helps us to be a good human being and a better citizen!
Written by NU120 student Tang De Ning
Reviewed by Chow Suh Hing & Dr Lim Swee Geok