Working at NHCS since 1994, ADN Chong Thye had always wanted to help the sick. Read on as the winner of the SingHealth GCEO Excellence Award – Outstanding Nurse Award, shares memories of setting up our Heart Centre.
Working at NHCS since 1994, ADN Chong Thye had always wanted to help the sick and enjoyed learning to manage simple wounds from her school days. Read on to discover insights on Nursing and important memories of setting up our Heart Centre (twice!), from our recent winner of the SingHealth GCEO Excellence Award – Outstanding Nurse Award.
It all started after ADN Chong’s O-Levels, when family responsibilities beckoned her to join the workforce and support her younger siblings' education. Despite her parents' objections, her passion for Nursing was ignited during her school days when she joined the Red Cross. She knew in her heart that Nursing was her true calling when she found joy even in learning the basics of first aid and managing simple wounds and bandaging.
“My parents discouraged me from being a nurse as they felt that it was a ‘dirty’ job”, shared ADN Chong. Overcoming these objections and doubts, she took a leap of faith and entered the Nursing profession in 1975. In 1978, she graduated and joined the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where she was assigned to various wards. The years of training brought not only valuable skills but also a stable monthly income, which she proudly contributed to her parents' household.
ADN Chong (left) in her earlier nursing days in 1995
The journey into Heart Centre
In October 1994, a new chapter unfolded in her career when she joined NHCS, known then as Singapore Heart Centre. Under the guidance of the late ADN Lim Suh Fen, ADN Chong took on the challenge of setting up the Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit. ADN Lim's diligence, resourcefulness, and strong networking skills left an indelible mark on her as a young nurse then. To her, ADN Lim became not just a supervisor but a mentor and friend, inspiring her with strength, courage, and a relentless pursuit of doing what's right, even in the face of adversity.
ADN Chong (seated left) with fellow Nursing colleagues, celebrating the late ADN Lim Suh Fen’s (seated right) winning the President’s award for Nurses
As the Heart Centre took shape, it was not without its share of challenges. She encountered failures, however, she saw them as opportunities to learn, grow, and accept the things she could not change. The tireless journey of establishing the Heart Centre and the subsequent management of SARS and COVID-19 outbreaks, showcased ADN Chong’s resilience and adaptability as a nurse.
Throughout her career, ADN Chong has been recognised for her achievements, having been involved in setting up the Heart Centre not once but twice, in 1994 and 2013. Her leadership roles allowed her to manage diverse teams of staff, and forging closer relationships to serve patients better. The trust her supervisors and management had in her autonomy brought her immense job satisfaction as well.
However, her path is not without obstacles. Managing patients’ expectations, diverse staff needs, and maintaining standards in an ever-changing workforce had been challenging. Yet, ADN Chong was able to face them head-on, doing daily walkabouts to stay connected with her team, always keeping her door open to staff, and communicating effectively to align objectives and goals.
Group photo with fellow nurses and Nursing support colleagues at NHCS Clinic 5A in 2017
For our healthcare angels
When asked on advice for fellow Nurses beginning their career in this noble profession, she had these wise messages to share, “While Nursing is tough, it is a calling that requires a genuine desire to help people and not to be afraid of hard work.” As ADN Chong reflects on her journey, she emphasised on the importance of EQ and empathy, qualities which can be honed over time. Failures should be embraced as challenges to conquer, and in doing so, one can succeed.
“I also believe that everyone is good by nature and more often than not, it is the circumstances that affect how we react,” expressed ADN Chong, who further shared how as a nurse, while it is important to extend empathy and care, it is equally essential to be able to distance oneself from the situation when one needs to. “With a difficult patient, it is important to recognise that the patient is not necessarily angry with you, but rather, with his or her discomfort and fear due to their health condition.”
A noble calling
ADN Chong (left) with fellow nurses at NHCS, during a 2001 Nurses Day’ Celebration
At NHCS, ADN Chong has touched countless lives, including patients and colleagues, leaving an enduring legacy of resilience, dedication and compassion. Her career is an inspiration, a testament to the power of following one's calling and persevering against all odds.
Congratulations to ADN Chong on the well-deserved award win for SingHealth GCEO Excellence Award – Outstanding Nurse Award 2023!