A caring healthcare professional makes all the difference, especially when patients need to undergo uncomfortable tests. Singapore Health Quality Service Awards 2024 Star Award recipient Michelle Li, Senior Neuro Electrophysiologist, Neurodiagnostic Laboratory, NNI, explains the work she does and what keeps her going.

"Does it hurt?"

This the number one question patients ask when Michelle Li explains how a nerve conduction study is performed. The test uses a small electric current to measure how fast nerves send messages. This helps to confirm suspected diagnoses of nerve conditions, such as diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage caused by diabetes) and carpal tunnel syndrome, where a compressed nerve causes numbness, tingling and pain in the fingers, hands and forearms.

Michelle's usual reply: you may find it 'uncomfortable'.

"To perform the test, we need to apply a current to the nerve, which gives a 'tap' sensation like someone flicking your skin with their finger. The current is gradually increased during the test and as a result, the 'tapping' sensation becomes stronger," explains Michelle.

Every patient's tolerance level is unique, but the Senior Neuro Electrophysiologist does notice some trends.

"We find that women tend to cope better with nerve conduction studies than men, and those who are older rather than younger. Among all our patients, women in their 60s and 70s are generally the best at tolerating these studies," shares Michelle.

Despite performing this uncomfortable test, Michelle regularly receives compliments from patients who appreciate her caring bedside manner and clear explanations about why the test is needed and what will happen.

Nerve conduction studies take between 30 minutes to more than an hour depending on which nerves need to be tested. To help distract patients from the discomfort, Michelle often chit chats to them and enjoys listening to their life experiences.

So, does Michelle enjoy 'zapping' patients?

"This is another common question patients ask! I get no pleasure from applying the current, but it is the passion I have for helping people that makes me enjoy my job. I went into healthcare because I want to do meaningful work and help people. Receiving kind words from patients is deeply satisfying and I feel motivated knowing I have made a difference to them in their healthcare journey," says Michelle.

Michelle is one of seven NNI staff members who received the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards 2024, which recognises service excellence in healthcare. NNI's other 2024 Star Award recipients are:

A further 30 NNI staff members received the Gold Award and 13 received the Silver Award.

Congratulations to all NNI recipients of the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards 2024 - thank you for providing service excellence to patients and colleagues!