Singapore

Unconscious passenger prompts flight attendant to become nurse

On a flight from South Africa to Singapore, a passenger drinking some wine dropped her glass.

Fellow passengers, noticing she had fallen unconscious, summoned the flight attendant, Ms Ivy Tay.

Fortunately, there was a doctor onboard who began treating the patient, giving instructions to the attendants, none of whom had much nursing experience.

"I didn't know what to do. I felt very helpless," the 39-year-old recalled. "That was when I thought, I want to do something about this."

That incident, 11 years ago, was the turning point for Ms Tay, who is now a nurse at Singapore General Hospital (SGH)'s emergency department.

She was one of 100 exceptional nurses recognised by the Health Ministry at its Nurses' Merit Award ceremony.

The award is given to nurses who have been consistently outstanding for the past three years, participated in professional development and helped promote the nursing profession.

They come from a variety of sectors like private and public hospitals and intermediate and long-term care institutions.

At yesterday's ceremony, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong also announced applications for a new Community Nursing Scholarship, to nurture nursing leaders in community care - who look after patients in their homes, nursing homes and polyclinics.

Mr Gan said Singapore needs to transform care delivery to meet the needs of a fast ageing population. Part of this involves strengthening community-based care to enable senior citizens to age well.

"We want to develop community nursing as a strong career track to underpin our care transformation to bring care beyond hospital to community," he added.

MOH is offering the scholarship to O- and A-level students, existing nursing students and in-service nurses.

The scholarship will be awarded to up to 20 students and nurses each year.

There are now about 40,000 nurses in Singapore.

For Ms Tan Meng Guek, 53, assistant director of nursing, quality management and social services at ECON Healthcare, the new scholarship will help attract young nurses to community healthcare.

"Acute hospitals are seen as more glamorous. Young nurses often think that community healthcare is dull and for older nurses," she said. "But I hope they can see that this sector is really challenging, interesting and very fulfilling."

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MINISTRY OF HEALTH (MOH)NURSING (OCCUPATION)scholar