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Working as a Palliative Nurse Practitioner in the US: The Journey of an IMU Nursing Alumna

25 Mar 2021

An IMU Alumna, Rachel Kang Ker Huang is currently working as a Palliative Nurse Practitioner at Reading Hospital, Pennsylvania. She has come a long way since she graduated with her nursing degree at IMU. Rachel shares with us more about her nursing journey in this interview.

About Rachel Kang Ker Huang
Cohort: N106
Graduation Year: 2010
Academic achievement:
  • IMU Bachelor of Nursing (Hons) – First Class Honors. Dean’s List for High Academic Achievement, 2010
  • Specialist Diploma Palliative Care Nursing- 2015
  • Master of Science in Nursing, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, University of Pennsylvania, 2018
  • Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN), 2020
Current Position: Palliative Nurse Practitioner
Current Employment: Reading Hospital, Pennsylvania

What were your experiences from your days at IMU? I have had so many memorable days at IMU from participating in dance performances during cultural events, studying long hours in the IMU library, visiting patients in the community etc. The memories worth mentioning are the ones I had with my lecturers and clinical preceptors. They have my deepest gratitude and respect. The words they spoke encouraged and inspired me to pursue and be at  the top of my nursing profession. Needless to say, some of my clinical preceptors were strict! They didn’t go easy on my “ego” when they had to reprimand me for some of my mistakes but on hindsight, they have taught me the value of discipline, professionalism and having higher standards. They instilled a sense of pride to be a nurse and the importance of taking ownership in my nursing practice. I am a better person because of it.

How was your journey after your graduation with the IMU nursing degree? Like many others, it was filled with highs and lows. Thankfully, it was fairly easy to get a job as a nurse. I took the first job that was offered to me in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore and was glad I did!

A great deal of my nursing experience and interest in palliative medicine was developed in Singapore. It had opened many doors of opportunities to grow in my profession. I was fortunate enough to pursue my Advance Diploma in Palliative Care and later on, pursue my Master in University of Pennsylvania, United States of America (USA).

How did IMU Nursing degree prepare you for your current role and career advancement?
I always thought one of the greatest advantages we had in IMU was not only having nursing lecturers that were well qualified to teach us, but also physicians that would also cover some of our anatomy and physiology lectures. It sets a good standard of the things that we should know and more. Speaking with nursing lecturers who have different experiences of studying abroad was key in expanding my perspective on different nursing careers / educational opportunities globally. Lastly, obtaining an IMU nursing degree, as intense and grueling the process may be, established a baseline platform needed to launch my nursing career. It was well worth it.

What is the inspiration that keeps you going and staying in the nursing profession? I enjoy my job, the autonomy it gives me and the ability to practice at the top of my nursing profession. That was the main reason why I wanted to be a nurse practitioner (NP). I derive deep meaning in what I do. I draw inspiration from many leaders around me that has a deep sense of purpose to contribute to the needs of the community and raising the standards of patient care.

How do you see yourself practicing nursing in the United States? As a palliative NP, I assess, evaluate and manage adult patients with various serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses. It is an exciting journey of learning and growth! I am blessed to be in a place that enables me to build on my nursing practice and have further opportunities to pursue my nursing education.

What is your advice to the younger generation who are considering Nursing as their profession?
Learn to be resilient and resourceful. Life is never “perfect” (But would you really want it to be??). Treasure periods of trials as opportunities for growth and be aware of resources you have around you that can help you achieve your goal. I have found that having good self-awareness and asking the right questions goes a long way. Last but not least, remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself and others around you.

Article written by Rachel Kang Edited by Chow Suh Hing & Dr Lim Swee Geok

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