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nurses are in demand all over the world-I can impact the world through nursing!
A male trainee nurse gives his take on how he finds nursing, long considered a female domain, truly rewarding.

MOTIVATED by a message I heard in church about "bridging lives with love", I believe I can impact the world through nursing!
From changing diapers to giving injections, and many other duties, the profession has taken me to higher ground and given me greater meaning and motivation in life.

Nursing is a career filled with countless personal and professional rewards. In fact, it is more than just a career. It's a combination of professionalism, hospitality and nobility wrapped into one package.

As a Year Three student in Lam Wah Ee Hospital, Penang, I must say my course has helped me to mature faster as I get to view life from different dimensions - from the birth of babies to caring for terminally ill patients, whom I try to help face death with dignity.

Having the opportunity to grasp the meaning of life in every situation that nursing offers me is something I'm grateful for, because few people have the chance to be in a profession that offers such a rewarding combination of high technology and "high touch".

With the latest technologies, various tasks performed by nurses have become easier.

My hospital has machines that can detect the amount of oxygen saturation in a patient's body by just placing a probe at the tip of his finger. I have learnt that you can measure the level of glucose in the blood with only a drop of blood. A small device is used to read the result.

Big challenge

I still remember the first time I had to clean up the mess after a patient had passed motion. The high touch-task needed required a few pairs of gloves and some deodoriser.

All nurses should be highly respected because cleaning someone's backside is not easy.

I still find it a challenge having to deal with all types of stools every day!

Our tutor, Ms Lim, often tells us that many people hold the view that those who cannot study often chose nursing as a career. I, too, used to think that way until I found out that being a nurse involves lots of studying, hard work and much dedication. Did you know that besides being a jack-of-all trades, nurses are expected to be a master of them all?

Being one of two male nurses in a class full of females was awkward, as I found out. Initially, I rarely spoke and did not dare to look any of my classmates in the eye because I was quiet and shy.

I only felt at ease with my coursemates as I got to know them better, which was in the latter part of the first semester. I also learnt to work together with fellow female trainees and others from different batches of intake.

Better communication

I am still amazed at some of the procedures that the nursing school has taught me.

In the first semster, I learnt how to give a patient a bed bath and hair shampoo. I was also taught how to sponge him from head to toe while he lay in bed.

We even changed his bedsheet without his having to sit up.

Did you know that student nurses can provide the same service that shampoo girls provide in the saloon to an immobile patient who needs help with his hair?

Washing a patient's hair while he is lying on a mastress needs some serious skills.

First, we position his head at the edge of the bed while protecting his clothes and the bedsheet with a mackintosh. Next, we shampoo the hair and even massage the head. Finally, as we wash the hair, the water drains into a pail via the long mackintosh.

I was successful when I did both the procedures for the first time.

Our clinical instructor, Ms Lee, would remind us that the objective is to ensure that not a single drop of water drips onto the bedsheet or the patient's shirt. That is the mark of one's efficiency.

Nursing starts to get more interesting in the second semester. Imagine doing a dressing for a patient whose wound is so deep that the bone is visible.

Also, I found out that there are more ways to feed a patient than just orally.

He can be fed through a nasogastric tube, which is inserted through the nose to the stomach. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrotomy feeding is another approach, in which a tube is placed directly into the stomach.

Nursing is not confined within the four walls of the hospital building. I got to discover and visit places I never even knew existed when I did my community health nursing (CHN) in the third semester.

The programme included stints at a government health clinic, Indah Water, Bekalan Air Kesihatan Alam Sekitar (BAKAS) and a handicapped children?s centre in Penang.

Gaining experience

From the experience and exposure, I learnt about different cultures and practices as we did home visits.

I gained a deeper understanding of how the authorities supply water to villages using different piping systems, or how they handle rubbish and sewage disposal.

CHN has helped me realise that nursing is not about providing care inside a building, but reaching out to people in the community because nursing is a holistic career that provides care for everyone regardless of race, religion, age or location.

The highlight of the fourth semester was being seconded to the paediatric ward, the nursery and labour room.

I still remember witnessing the delivery of a baby boy.

As I hid behind my female colleagues, totally in shock, I kept saying: "Oh no! I cannot bear to see this."

Since then, I've watched babies coming out from the "birth canal" a few times, and am not that terrified anymore.

What my tutor told me just before that stint still rings in my head today: "You will truly appreciate your mother and love her even more once you work in the labour room."

How true those words were for me! I realised then that, contrary to popular belief, women are indeed the stronger sex. The pain they have to endure during childbirth is certainly not for an able-bodied man like me!

Witnessing childbirth, despite my initial fear, was a beautiful experience. Now, I look forward to graduating next June and hope to be based in the accident and emergency (A&E) department because I would like to take up a post-basic course in this area.

Once I've done that, I hope to work in Saudi Arabia.

In fact, nurses are in demand all over the world. Yes, nursing does have its perks source
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