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Staff nurse shares first-hand lessons from the front lines

Mr Muhammad Afiq Roslim was initially apprehensive about working on the Covid-19 front lines but he took his new duties in his stride

By Kenneth SZ Goh

When Covid-19 hit Singapore last January, there was a lot of fear surrounding the highly infectious virus. Despite the uncertainty, Mr Muhammad Afiq Roslim, 29, a staff nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), took his four-month deployment at the National Centre of Infectious Diseases’ screening centre in his stride.

He says: “I felt a sense of duty (being stationed) there. There was a tinge of fear — but it was more of the unknown, rather than of contracting the virus.”

Mr Afiq, who previously cared for patients with heart and pulmonary conditions, had to nimbly switch gears to keep up as infections soared from January to April. His tasks ranged from registration to running electrocardiogram screenings to conducting swab tests — all while wearing personal protective equipment, complete with masks and goggles.

He says: “It was difficult to see through the goggles as they would get foggy. I also had to listen carefully to patients and assure them, even though I could not see their facial expressions clearly.”

Another challenge was managing the high volume of patients who turned up for tests, many of whom were very anxious. So i t was up to Mr Afiq to try to alleviate their fears. “The experience has reminded me to have more compassion and taught me how to empathise with the sick.”

Call of duty

Mr Afiq’s strong sense of empathy served him well as a combat medic during his national service days. In Brunei, he participated in an urgent medical support exercise, which motivated him to pursue a Diploma in Nursing at Nanyang Polytechnic.

In 2015, he received MOH Holdings’ Healthcare Merit Award, which sponsored his bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences (Nursing) jointly offered by The University of Manchester and Singapore Institute of Technology.  

Mr Afiq says being a scholarship holder taught him how to be a leader and mentor to his nursing peers. It also motivated him to constantly upgrade his skills.

Since joining TTSH in 2017, he has gone beyond the call of duty by contributing to building TTSH’s Integrated Care Hub. He is also part of the hospital’s nursing procurement team. And the learning does not stop there.  This year, Mr Afiq has plans to pursue an Advanced Diploma in Nursing (Medical-Surgical), which will pave the way for him to be part of TTSH’s research community and aim for a chance to attend the Nursing Research Mentorship Programme.

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