"Nursing is a unique profession - everyone may have different experiences. For me, I derive contentment from caring for others. By helping others get better, in turn, helps me to overcome difficulties in my daily life. It is these positive experiences that keep me going all these years and help me stay positive. I am also glad that the experience I had from SARS has come in handy to help me handle the current pandemic as well as guide my junior nurses to cope better.
The SARS pandemic in 2003 was without a doubt, the most challenging time of my career. Thanks to those valuable experiences in SARS, we are now well-prepared for a pandemic like Covid-19 and are familiar with donning Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Back then, it was the first outbreak encounter for majority of us and everything was new to us.
I was deployed to the neurosurgical ICU (Intensive Care Unit) then, and we had to don full PPE and PAPR (Personal Air-Purifying Respirator) when carrying out suctioning for patients. We also wore N95 masks throughout the entire day at work. Many of us were concerned of infecting our loved ones so we had to shower and change out of our scrub suits before going home. I also soaked my uniform in Dettol when back at home. Until today, I continue to wash my uniform separately from my family’s.
I vividly remember that one of my colleagues insisted to stay on with us to fight SARS despite the persuasion from her mother to return home to Malaysia. I realised then that nursing is not just a profession but a calling – no matter how fearful I was, just like my colleagues, I should never leave my job and my patients."
Read more about Nurse Clinician Pearl Wee's story in National Heart Centre Singapore's Stories from the Heart.