Singapore General Hospital deputy director of nursing Patricia Yong conducting a refresher training course on prone positioning for ICU nurses.PHOTO: SINGAPORE GENERAL HOSPITAL

The Straits Times speaks to the five nurses who clinched the President's Award for Nurses this year. The award, the highest accolade for the profession in Singapore, recognises nurses who have shown sustained, outstanding performance and contributions to patient care delivery, education, research and administration.

Six years ago, Ms Patricia Yong started cross-training intensive care unit (ICU) nurses in Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

She would rotate them every three months from the intermediate care area and high-dependency units to intensive care units, and from one ICU to another.

"I wanted the nurses to be exposed to a higher level of sophisticated care for patients so that when required, we have enough high-skilled nurses to work in such wards," said the 56-year-old deputy director of nursing at SGH.

The soundness of this approach has now been proved amid the Covid-19 outbreak, as competent ICU nurses could be deployed across ICUs as needed.

Ms Yong started as a registered nurse at SGH 35 years ago and later specialised as an ICU nurse.

She said she was "happy and humbled" to receive the President's Award for Nurses.

"The award is dedicated to the ICU team, who work hard every day. I'm thankful that they have also been receptive of my ideas and suggestions," she added.

As the co-chairperson of the SGH Campus ICU Committee, Ms Yong is in charge of ICU expansion, while maintaining the quality and safety of intensive care in the hospital.

She also oversees a team of ICU nurses caring for Covid-19 patients in the ICU, as well as being the disease outbreak nursing lead for SGH.

Ms Yong was involved in operations and planning for the Covid-19 response, including manpower and workflow planning for the ICU and emergency department.

Drawing on her experience with patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), Ms Yong emphasises vigilance in upholding a high level of infection prevention practices.

"Nursing is not an easy task and perseverance is very important. Apart from being competent in clinical skills, nurses should also have a high level of emotional quotient and be compassionate. They must be observant and good listeners because if they're impatient, they may miss out on symptoms in a patient."

Despite achieving the highest accolade in Singapore's nursing profession, Ms Yong does not want to rest on her laurels.

She has been appointed as nursing lead of the upcoming Elective Care Centre in the SGH campus, a dedicated facility for scheduled surgery.

"It is a big responsibility but I look forward to taking on the role," said Ms Yong.