The dream of being a nurse started with Emily’s grandma, who was a nurse herself too.

“Growing up, my grandma always looked after my brother and me. To me, she was the kindest and most loving person I’d ever met,” Emily reminisced.

Friends of Emily’s grandma would also often attest to Emily how great she was — and not just as a person but also as a nurse.

That inspired Emily to pursue nursing as an occupation, while being involved in community work on the side.

Emily participating in an art therapy activity with seniors at St. Theresa’s Home.

As young as 12, she started helping the elderly at St. Theresa’s Home, where she often participated in activities to keep them occupied.

One of her most memorable incidents was when an elderly woman told Emily that she was like the granddaughter she never had.

While she initially thought of it as a passing remark, that lady remembered Emily when she came back the following year to volunteer. 

“She remembered me and my name. I felt really touched because I didn’t think I was anybody at that point in time,” Emily described.

Emily on a Christmas lunch outing with the elderly.

“For her to even have a memory of me, I felt that I had a huge impact on her life,” she recounted.

“To be able to touch someone’s life that greatly sparked something in me. I saw the need to continue the good works because if I can help her, I can help others too and give them joy.”

Choosing a career in nursing

In 2021, Emily graduated from SIT and the University of Glasgow with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Nursing (distinction).

Serving her bond as a palliative care staff nurse with Alexandra Hospital which sponsored her tertiary education, Emily entered the workforce at a time when the healthcare industry is seeing an increasing number of resignations

“I can understand why some nurses would quit because our job is not easy,” she shared, citing how the work can be mentally and physically draining.

“But it’s also very fulfilling and meaningful.”

For example, a patient whom Emily had previously taken care of got re-admitted and her face immediately lit up when she saw that she was under Emily’s care again.

“She greeted me and said, ‘Ah nurse Emily, my favourite little angel,’” Emily recalled. “She told me that she remembers me fondly because she felt that I really listened and cared for her.”

“That was a great encouragement for me because I had positively impacted her life and hopefully many others to come.”

Besides the tender moments, what drives Emily is also her strong belief that her work as a palliative nurse matters.

She continued: “Most of the time, my patients are very ill and close to the end of their lives. My role is to ensure that they receive care according to their values and beliefs.”

Personally, Emily’s own beliefs also give meaning to her work.

“In my work, I see a lot of sickness and suffering. But I believe that where there’s great suffering, Christ is always there. Because He has suffered, He knows what it’s like.”

It doesn’t matter whether that patient is Christian or not, she added. Just having someone present is like the presence of Christ to them.

When caring gets tough

That said, she admits that it becomes hard for her to emotionally detach herself at times. This is especially when a patient passes on.

Emily would find herself being negatively affected because of how attached she had gotten while caring for them.

In such occasions, she turns to God for strength and sustenance.

“My quiet time with God allows me to decompress and unpack these thoughts and emotions, and helps me to feel renewed in His strength,” she said.

“When I am weak and vulnerable, I will let go and let God. I will ask Him to take my yoke because I know I can rely on His strength.”

After all, how can one look after others if you can’t even look after yourself, Emily questioned.

“There are good days and bad days. But overall, I enjoy what I do,” she reflected. “Every new day brings me new opportunities to help others.”

“That fills my heart and keeps me motivated to be a nurse.”

Would you encourage a caregiver today?

Caring for others seem like a simple task – anyone can show care and concern. But the truth is, it takes so much of ourselves to put others first.

Isn’t that the reason why we have a whole industry dedicated to care work?

But the resource deficit is real. As the pandemic has shown, nurses are getting burnt out, citing fatigue and exhaustion as reasons for quitting.

So as we outsource part of our caregiving work to professionals, let’s not take them for granted. They, too, are humans in need of tender loving care 🥰 .

To read more about Emily’s volunteering work, check out this article below!

  1. Do you see meaning in your studies or work?
  2. How can you bring the presence of Christ to where you are today?
  3. How can you honour and care for the seniors in your midst?
  4. Know a caregiver? Encourage him or her today!