Photo credit: Angela Ouyang

Nurses, your knights in white uniforms

Being a nurse requires more than just manual labour.

Rosalind Ang

Published: 1 August 2017, 10:25 AM

Like many unsung heroes in our society, nurses are often misunderstood for having easy jobs. The truth, however, begs to differ.

Youth.SG had the pleasure of chatting with Clara Lee, a bubbly and cheerful senior staff nurse from Singapore General Hospital, who is passionate about her job.


Who: Clara Lee, 32
Occupation: Senior staff nurse, Colorectal Surgery ward
Studied: Master of Science in clinical leadership from Curtin University

Tell us more about yourself!

Travelling is something I really enjoy in my leisure time and I got the chance in my career to do so.

I was in Australia for my further studies and I got to work as a nurse for a few years there as well. I was grateful for the opportunity.

Why did you want to become a nurse?

Nursing chose me. It attracted me because I didn’t have to sit at a desk all day.

It involves a lot of interaction with patients and fellow colleagues, and you get to be up and about the entire day.

I’ve been in the healthcare industry for 13 years, and I was immediately drawn to the nature of nursing.

Could you describe a typical day at work?

A typical day at my work involves basic nursing care like assessing patients, dressing wounds, showering patients and serving meals.

I’m also in a leadership role, in which I oversee the nurses under me and their tasks.


Clara with her colleagues, carrying out administrative duties.
Photo credit: Angela Ouyang


What are some of the challenge you’ve faced on the job?

Every job has sacrifices, and nursing is no exception.

We don’t have normal working hours like people in other occupations. We sometimes sleep four to five hours if we have an afternoon to morning shift. Our rotating shift work is the reason for our irregular sleep patterns.

During busy periods, I may need to step in to help my fellow nurses.

Also, part of a nurse’s responsibility is to relieve the anxiety of patients and their family members. It can be a challenge, but people naturally get distressed when their family members get admitted into the wards.

By explaining the patient’s situation to the family, they tend to have a better idea of what to expect and they feel better as a result.


Clara speaking to a patient’s family member.
Posed photo: Ang


My family was initially not agreeable to my chosen career, as they felt that nursing requires a lot of physical work. However, they eventually became more supportive as the years went by, and they saw what I’ve achieved in nursing.

What is the most memorable moment you’ve had as a nurse?

It’s a tough job, but it’s all worth it to see patients in the pink of health again.

When you see patients come in sick and unhappy, it’s a very memorable moment when you get to see them recover and leave the ward with smiles on their faces.


Every patient’s road to recovery motivates Clara in her job.
Posed photo: Angela Ouyang


What advice do you have for youths who want to become a nurse?

I would ask them to be mentally prepared!

Although nursing may seem like an easy job to many people, it actually requires a high level of competency to carry out assessments and critical thinking, as different patients have different patient care needs.


Educational requirements: You will need either a diploma or a degree in nursing from a polytechnic or a university.

Qualities needed: Patience, and a caring disposition to take care of your patients.

Salary range: Starting from $2,300 for enrolled nurses, $3,000 for registered nurses with diploma qualifications, and $4,400 for registered nurses with degree qualifications.

Working hours: Usually eight hours per shift.

Career prospects: There are many possible advancements in the nursing career. You can take up leadership roles, or get involved in community nursing, where nurses do outpatient work by tending to patients in clinics or in their own homes.


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