Tired of burning her weekends and public holidays waiting tables, Asnida joined the healthcare industry… to discover her dream job.

Asnida left her waitressing job nine years ago for a practical reason. "I wanted a job with office hours. At the theme park restaurant, where I worked for four years, I was pulling 10-hour shifts mostly over the weekends and on public holidays," explains Asnida Binte Mohamed Yusop, who waited tables for eight years, first at a North Indian restaurant at Boat Quay.

Being an extrovert, she did not want to be desk bound. "If I am put in a 'cube', I would not be able to function. I need to talk to people. I need to interact," says Asnida, who has a National ITE Certificate (Nitec) in Food and Beverage Operations from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Her friend, who was working in a hospital, saw the Patient Service Associate (PSA) advertisement by SGH and told Asnida about it. "I hesitated at first because I was not sure if they would hire me as I had no healthcare experience. But my friend said SGH would train me. So I decided to give it a shot."

After Asnida was hired as a PSA, SGH sponsored her for a six-month Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) course at Alice Lee Institute of Advanced Nursing (Alice Lee IAN). "I learnt basic nursing skills including how to change adult diapers and transfer a patient from a bed to a commode. I was also taught how to book appointments when I learnt to use the hospital's computerised appointment system, as well as the terminology. For example, '2/52 after discharge' means 2 weeks after discharge."

Asnida has been working at Ward 48 for nine years now. Front row (from left) Senior Care Support Associate Asnida Binte Mohamed Yusop, Senior Staff Nurse (SSN) Woong Si Ying, SSN Nur Sakinah Binte Sani, Nurse Clinician (NC) Liang Li. Back row (from left) Staff Nurse Tan Lee Peng, NC Nur Amelia Binte Azman, Senior Nurse Manager Annie Lau, Principal Enrolled Nurse Sumarni Binte Soemarno

New skills under her belt, Asnida started work at Ward 48, Medical Oncology. As a PSA, she did clerical duties such as booking appointments for patients, retrieving and returning case notes to the Medical Records Office, topping up forms, keeping the nursing station tidy, and ensuring that our nurses always had enough stationery. Asnida achieved her goal because she finally got to work office hours. "I did two shifts, 8am to 5pm or 12nn to 9pm. Also I only had to work one Saturday per month and was off on Sundays and public holidays."

Three years later, Asnida was promoted to Senior PSA after she completed a three-month Alice Lee IAN course when she learnt management skills. Within the same year yet another opportunity arose. "My manager asked if I was open to changing roles - Senior Care Support Associate (CSA). I would do nursing care duties such as drawing blood and performing ECG. She said I would be trained. At first, I was afraid. Suddenly, I must take care of a human being. But I love to learn new things. So I took the plunge because I knew that I would learn new skills on top of my admin skills," shares Asnida, who won the SingHealth Nursing Care Support Champion Award in August.

Asnida did a five-day course at Alice Lee IAN where she learnt how to perform ECG, do bladder scan, check blood glucose and draw blood. "I had to pass competency tests before I could do the procedures."

Immediately after completing the course, she took on the role of a Senior CSA at Ward 48. "My main challenge was drawing blood because I had to find the vein. That was very difficult. My patients are cancer patients so their veins are quite fine," explains Asnida.

She still remembers her first time drawing blood. "I forgot to release the tourniquet because I was so happy at having found the vein. My nursing colleague reminded me, 'Quick, release it before her arm turns blue!'" chuckles Asnida.

Asnida (middle) and her Ward 48 colleagues at a chalet during their annual staff gathering.

She has been a Senior CSA at Ward 48 for five years now. On top of the clerical duties she used to do as a PSA, Asnida also does nursing care duties including changing diapers, sponging and showering her patients, tube feeding, checking blood glucose, performing ECG and bladder scan, and drawing blood.

She does three shifts now – 7am to 4pm or 7am to 3pm, 12.30pm to 9.30pm or 1.30pm to 9.30pm, and 8.30pm to 7.30am  - including weekends and public holidays. But Asnida no longer insists on working office hours, "I love nursing care so I do not mind doing shifts anymore."

What's next for gung-ho Asnida? "I have spent most of the past five years looking after patients. I realise that I enjoy nursing care. Two years ago, during appraisal I told my supervisors that I want to study nursing. In 2024, SGH will sponsor me for Nitec Nursing studies. After graduating, I want to care for my patients in their dying days because that makes me feel like I am really making a difference. This is my dream."


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