In search of meaningful work, Mohammad Shafiq Bin Omar became a nurse, and is giving back even more to his patients and colleagues by sharing his professional knowledge and defining nursing.

When he was 17, Mohammad Shafiq Bin Omar decided that he wanted to be a nurse so that he can give back to society. “I did vacation jobs like being a sales assistant at apparel stores. But I did not find such roles fulfilling.” Fourteen years into his career, Shafiq - now a Nurse Clinician - says the best part of his job is “taking care of patients so that they can go home well. This keeps me going every day.” 

Learning latest skills and training others to better care for patients
As a nephro-urology nurse, Shafiq cares for kidney transplant patients, and urology patients with bladder and prostate problems. “Nursing gives me opportunities to learn new skills so that I can better care for my patients,” says Shafiq, who was one of 13 nurses at SGH given the 2023 Nurses Merit Award. 

Shafiq was given the MOH Nurses’ Merit Award on 19 July 2023

In 2015, Shafiq, was sent to Duke University in the US to learn how to care for prostate cancer patients undergoing a novel treatment using focal cryotherapy to freeze the cancerous tumours. 

The SGH Urology Department was exploring the new procedure at that time as it could spare patients from incontinence or impotence commonly associated with treatments of radiotherapy, or surgical removal of the whole prostate. 

Upon his return, Shafiq created from scratch a pre- and post-operative care plan for these patients and trained a team of nurses at his ward to care for such patients.

Focal cryotherapy is now an established option for suitable prostate cancer patients at SGH, offered as a Day Surgery. Shafiq also shared his knowledge with nursing colleagues who care for patients in the outpatient setting at Urology Centre.

Looking out for patients and caregivers
Shafiq is a strong patient advocate and looks out for and offers emotional support to his patients and their families. Earlier this year, he noticed that a palliative patient's husband had not left the patient’s bedside since she was admitted a month ago for lung cancer. Shafiq spoke to the patient’s husband to see if he could help in any way. Said Shafiq, "The husband confided in me that he has not showered for a month as he dared not leave because the doctor told him that his wife could pass away any time. And he has been sleeping on a chair by the wife’s bedside in the 5-bedder ward.” 

Shafiq and his nursing supervisors arranged for the patient to be moved to a single room with an extra bed so that the husband could shower and have a proper bed to sleep in. Two weeks later, the patient passed away. The husband wrote in to commend Shafiq for putting the patient and caregiver's needs first.

Fostering a culture of care for colleagues

Shafiq with mates from his Ward 55B

Shafiq cares just as much for his colleagues. He leads a team who looks after the well-being of some 90 nurses in his ward. They set up a little room at the corner of the ward well-stocked with snacks, drinks, stress balls, board games and darts. Says Shafiq, “It can be difficult for our nurses to leave the ward for a break during their shift. They just have too much to do. The Quick Bite cum De-stressing corner is within the ward and, hence, easily accessible. So our colleagues can pop into the room for 10 minutes to get a bite or drink. Or they can throw some darts; play some games. This way, they can relax and get their mind off things for a while.”

The Quick Bite cum De-stressing corner within Ward 55B

Shafiq and his well-being team also organize outings for their colleagues, for example, a walk along Henderson Wave. “Such gatherings are especially important for our foreign nurses. They are alone here with no family. These outings give them the opportunity to make friends and build their social support.”

(From left) Ward 55B’s walk along Henderson Wave in December 2022. Shafiq and his ward mates volunteering at the 2019 Singapore Transplant Games by Society of Transplantation (Singapore), SGH and NUH transplant centres. 

Why does Shafiq care so much about his colleagues’ well-being? “As a junior nurse, I found the work daunting because much was expected of us. I want our nurses to feel treasured and know that we care about them. I do not want my ward to feel like a factory where nurses just clock in and clock out. So cold and meaningless. I want to make sure nursing does not become like that,” says Shafiq.