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Caring to go further

A typical work day for Mrs Ong Li Jiao (above) kicks off at 8.30am at the Senior Activity Centre in Bukit Merah.

There, the community nurse clinician huddles with her team of community nurses, reviews new patient cases and schedules appointments for the residents of the neighbourhood.

The 34-year-old is employed by Singapore General Hospital (SGH), but her role requires her to work off-site at different centres.

Upgrading herself

Despite having been a nurse for 13 years, Mrs Ong is aware she needs to consistently review her skills to be able to meet the challenges of the healthcare industry — especially the demands of the “silver tsunami” of Singapore’s elderly residents as the population ages rapidly.

With that in mind, she decided to take up a part-time Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree, which she completed in 2008.

As she needed to attend classesand do shift work in the ward con-currently, her supervisor allowedher to adjust her working schedule according to the timings of her evening or weekend classes.

Recalls Mrs Ong: “My lecturersand course mates were very supportive. We motivated one other tostudy hard to achieve our goals.

“I also appreciate the support I received from my family. With their understanding, I was able to fully devote my energy and time to the job I am passionate about.” She also had to be disciplined when studying in order to manage her coursework well.

Rising to the occasion

Now a team and nurse leader in the Community Nursing posts of the Bukit Merah zone, Mrs Ong guides junior nurses, and works closely with various community partners to help residents live and age well in their homes.

She plays a central role in providing care beyond the hospital by planning and coordinating services that enable residents to receive care at home and in the community.

Last year, MOH Holdings launched the Community Nursing Scholarship (CNS), which aims to develop nurse leaders using the model of a community setting.

Like Mrs Ong, future CNS scholars will play a pivotal role in providing care to all — not just in the hospital, but also the community — for the betterment of every citizen’s well-being.

Students who are interested in applying for, or are currently pursuing, nursing diplomas or degrees in local educational institutions are eligible for the scholarship.

The scholarship will cover tuition fees. A monthly maintenance allowance, one-off pre-studies allowance, and salary will also be provided.

Mrs Ong is excited about the prospects of this new scholarship, and positive about the impact it will have.

“I believe the CNS will help the community nurses of the future to be resourceful, organised and confident in providing healthcare services to the community. This will enable the elderly to live and age well in a familiar environment,” she says.