Ms Stephanie Teo, Chief Nurse, SingHealth Polyclinics, the Powerhouse who turned inspiration into aspiration

Some memories stand out like stars against the night sky – bright, enduring and etched on our minds. For SingHealth Polyclinics’ (SHP) Chief Nurse, Ms Stephanie Teo, the spark that ignited her lifelong dedication to nursing was kindled at the age of 8. 

In her younger days, she regularly accompanied her late mother to the hospital to visit her youngest brother who was battling a kidney infection. She witnessed the compassion and dedication of the nurses and how they brought comfort and healing to patients and their families in times of need. She felt that Nursing is a noble job and had set her heart on this journey ever since. 

Ms Teo started her nursing career from rank and file and built her credibility over the years. She has been a beacon of commitment and excellence at SHP for the past 23 years. In celebration of women’s achievements in the month of March, we invited Ms Teo for a heart-to-heart conversation, where she shared insights into her remarkable nursing journey and her vision for the future of nursing.

What has been one of your biggest joy as a leader?

One of the greatest joys I have experienced as a leader is the opportunity to inspire fellow SHP nurses towards clinical excellence in primary care. 

Ms Teo (extreme left) and her nurses during an engagement session at SHP-Marine Parade.

How do you keep your team motivated when faced with conflicts and obstacles?

Maintaining the team’s motivation during conflicts and obstacles require a multifaceted approach. Building positive relationships with team members is important and I do so by providing a listening ear and offering support when they face challenges. I will also provide career advice to encourage them to work towards a hopeful future for themselves and their loved ones. 

What are your different roles at work and at home?

I hold multiple positions at work, including Chief Nurse at SingHealth Polyclinics, Deputy Group Chief Nurse at SingHealth and Director of Community Nursing at the SingHealth Office of Regional Health.  Additionally, I actively lead and participate in several committees and workgroups. 

At home, I fulfill my roles as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. With the support of my husband in splitting household responsibilities, I take care of the housework and guide my daughter in her studies, where necessary. As a daughter-in-law, I encourage my in-laws, who are in their 80s, to stay active and independent by offering nursing advice that are helpful for them. I try to be there for my family as much as possible. On Sundays, I dedicate my time to volunteer at a Children’s Ministry leading worship or teaching bible lessons. 

How did you succeed as a Chief Nurse in Healthcare?

Becoming a Chief Nurse was never part of my initial career plan. I focused on providing the best possible care to patients and continuously honed my skills as a nurse. I was entrusted with greater responsibilities as I progressed, and I willingly accepted them with the mindset to contribute more to the organisation. I embraced changes and am a firm believer of continuous learning. 

Ms Teo (second from left and in blazer) showing support for fellow SHP nurses at the 
SingHealth Nursing Research & Innovation Award 2023.

How do you describe your leadership style?

I tailor my leadership approach based on situations. In critical ones, I will be assertive and guide my team toward the best course of action. In other times, I believe in servant leadership where I strive to be empathetic, approachable and flexible. I constantly encourage my nurses to advance their career and provide the necessary support and listening ear when they need one.

What is your vision for the future of Nursing?

My vision is for Nursing to be the career of choice, where it is esteemed as one of the most rewarding professions. I also envision nurses to maintain clinical excellence and continually deliver compassionate, person-centered care to all patients.

How do you juggle managing a large team at work and your family back at home?

I recognise the importance of empowering team members and delegating tasks according to their strengths and expertise. Time management is important, and I always prioritise the urgent and important tasks. I am blessed with strong support from my family, which has helped to ease my loads as we manage the demands of household responsibilities together and carve out quality family time for each other. 

What do you do in your personal time that helps you be a leader?

I start and end each day with a personal reflection to help take stock of my performance and review the areas I can do better. Reading is another relaxing activity that I like to indulge in.

Name one woman who inspires you?

The ex-SingHealth Group CEO, Professor Ivy Ng. She is a strong, capable and resilient woman whom I aspire to be. 

What is one quote that you live by?

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage that counts.” - Winston Churchill

What is an important advice that you will give to women pursuing a career in Nursing?

I encourage women to identify and embrace their “True North” – the core values, passions, and aspirations that guide their professional journey. I also urge them to stay on course, do not lose sight of their personal identity and persevere in their pursuit for excellence. 

Celebrating resilience: Ms Teo (extreme left) joining nurses, leaders and admin staff
for a photo at the COVID-19 National Awards Ceremony.

Not yet subscribed to our e-Newsletter? Sign up here today!