With 26 years of teaching experience under her belt, Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) Teo Lee Wah is a walking powerhouse of nursing knowledge. Over the course of her nursing career, she has been actively involved in educational activities at both the national and institutional levels.

The veteran nurse’s passion is clear – she believes that to improve patient outcomes, and develop new nursing skills and knowledge, continuous learning is the way to go. 

Fully following what she preaches, APN Teo went on to pursue her Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Duke University, USA, in 2016, shortly after she completed a training programme in organisational leadership the year before. Upon her return, Dr Teo (yes, she is one of two nurses with a doctorate in NHCS) put learning into practice and implemented an early review session at the APN-led transition clinic to reduce heart failure readmission for post-discharge patients. 

In September 2018, the deserving educator was conferred the AM.EI Golden Apple Awards – Outstanding Educator Award – a culmination of her excellence in healthcare education.

Dr Teo shares more with us.

She has always wanted to teach
When I was still young, I wanted to be either a nurse or teacher. But it was only after a friend who was a nurse, started sharing about her job with me that got me truly interested in nursing. Through her stories, I liked the challenges Nursing brings (with the ever-changing environment) and felt that it is a profession where I can directly impact patients’ lives. I am thankful that my parents viewed nursing as a noble profession and were very supportive!

The right teaching method for the right learner
I believe in using different methods for different learners. For example, some individuals may require more engagement to learn more effectively. In such scenarios, I have used crossword puzzles to facilitate better learning and understanding. Involving the participants in teamwork, dividing them into small groups to discuss realistic case studies is also another way to enable students to contribute meaningfully by applying what they have learned in class.

A connecting bridge
I enjoy learning and using my knowledge to benefit others. In class, I teach to upgrade and improve the skills and knowledge of fellow nurses such as through foundation courses for new nurses or in-service talks for staff. Outside of that, I have had the chance to develop for example, the cardiac course for specialty care nurses as well as training programme for APNs. In a way, I see myself as a connecting bridge – putting into use all that I have learnt, and leading my learners to discover and develop their highest potential.  

Continuous learning for good 
Keeping up-to-date and always looking for new ways to improve patient care is important to me. This is especially so when we apply evidence-based care to local context and bridging the gap in our services. That was what drove me to pilot the early review of post-discharge patients at the APN-led clinic. For those seen at the clinic, the rate for unplanned readmission and visit to the emergency department for heart failure went down by 14% compared to those who did not participate in the programme. 


We discovered that even when she was a young mother with three children to worry about, Dr Teo’s desire for learning did not stop as she still managed to complete her degree and masters! When asked what’s next on her learning cards since she has already earned a doctorate, Dr Teo smiled and said, “Well, lifelong learning is not limited to degrees; there are still many other areas such as management skills and soft skills that I can pick up. We shouldn’t stop (learning).” 

Spoken like an educator through and through.