When Ms Zhou Zhong Fang became a nurse, she was fulfilling her father's long time wish. It was her career choice too.

She says: "I feel that nurses are the guardians of life."

Positive influence

Today, the 31-year-old is a senior staff nurse (SSN) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Ms Zhou's journey in the healthcare industry started in 1993, when she on a Singapore Ministry of Health nursing scholarship in her hometown, Qingdao, in China's Shandong province.

Thirteen years later, she came to Singapore and pursued a diploma in nursing at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), graduating in 2009.

As part of her diploma programme, Ms Zhou did an attachment at Singapore General Hospital's emergency department and was inspired by how the nurses and doctors tended to patients under pressure.

She said: "When I saw the patient become breathless and experience a lot of pain, I was scared and did not know what to do. But the other nurses and doctors did not panic and quickly administered oxygen and drugs. The patient's family was so happy and appreciative."

After her graduation, Ms Zhou worked in the cardiac catherterisation lab at the National Heart Centre where she assisted doctors to carry out procedures like resuscitating heart attack patients in the emergency department.

Delivering higher-quality care

In January, Ms Zhou commenced a part-tome Bachelor of Science in nursing at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). She expects to graduate in January 2020.

While her diploma taught her clinical care, such as how to measure blood pressure and heart rate, and how to carry out medical procedures, she says that a degree in nursing focuses on innovation and research, and she will acquire problem-solving and decision-making skills.

The challenge for Ms Zhou is balancing work at TTSH with her studies.

She says: "When I am on call, I may have to attend to emergency cases and sometimes work through the night until all the procedures are completed. It's tiring and stressful, but it's meaningful.

"Sometimes, after work, I already feel very exhausted. MDIS supports me with financial support and resources such as psychological counselling so that I can feel confident of completing the programme."

With this degree, Ms Zhou looks forward to advancing her career and specialising so that she can provide quality care to patients afflicted with certain types of diseases.