In June, we ran a contest inviting fans on Facebook and Instagram to send questions to Jeevitha. Here are Jeevitha’s replies to five selected questions!
Jeevitha is a Senior Enrolled Nurse in Assisi Hospice and has been in the nursing field for 10 years. She is a recipient of this year’s Tan Chin Tuan Nursing Award for Enrolled Nurses. Though she has psoriasis and receives negative remarks on her condition, the young nurse persisted in her dream of being a nurse and joined palliative care, accompanying patients in their final journey in life. She has been with Assisi Hospice for five years.
She said, “Caring for my patients makes me forget about my pain. To know that what I am doing makes a difference in someone’s life is what makes me proud to be a nurse.”
1. May I ask who/what inspired you to pursue your dream and take on the nursing role despite your psoriasis condition?
When I was younger, I dreamt of working in the oil industry or becoming a teacher. However, when I was growing up, I was inspired by my mother and sister who had healthcare backgrounds (my sister is now a nurse manager and my mother, a retired healthcare assistant). Their stories of how they’ve helped patients inspired me to become a nurse.
When I was 17, my father was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure and was in and out of the hospital often. I was moved by the work the nurses did, how they talked to him and took care of him to make him feel better, despite his illness.
For me, personally, I believe that my condition shouldn’t stop me from achieving my dreams. It is part of me, and it has never affected me in pursuing my dreams to be a nurse.
2. With COVID-19, what do you think will be a major shift in the health care industry? What new skillsets does one need to acquire?
With COVID-19 being here to stay, we need to be prepared to manage crisis and emergency at any time with all the precautionary measures in place, so that we can continue to care for our patients.
We have seen the social impact of Covid-19 on our patients and their loved ones. More than ever, we have to be sensitive and more alert to their pressing social and emotional needs and provide timely assistance. Here at Assisi Hospice, we work as a team and will share the patients’ needs and concerns with the rest of our team members, for example our doctors, therapists, and social workers, to ensure that they get the help that they need.
Additionally, it is also important to provide a listening ear and support to our fellow colleagues, especially our foreign colleagues when travelling back to their own country may seem to be impossible for this year. Many of them are concerned about their family members back home.
3. What is a common misconception that people have about psoriasis, and its impact on your work?
For me, it is mainly the misconception that psoriasis is contagious. Previously, I couldn’t get through work interviews because of my condition.
Many also have the stereotype that people with psoriasis are unable to work in a stressful environment and hence are not suitable for nursing. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that way though as there isn’t much awareness about psoriasis, thus the misconception about the condition.
4. Being in the frontline, accompanying patients through their final journeys in life, how do you manage your emotional struggle?
Even though I have been in the hospice for four years and have witnessed many patients passing on, I still feel sad when I witness death, especially when a relationship has been built with the patient. I would pray for them and I tell myself that they are in a better place and free from suffering.
5. What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
Nursing can be a stressful job when traumatic situations occur. I have learnt to be more patient in life, to be more caring and have empathy for the pain and suffering of my patients.
At the end of the day, I go to bed knowing that I have done my best to alleviate my patients’ pain and suffering. As nurses, we hold the lives of many people in our hands. Some of our patients with dementia (I work in a dementia palliative ward) are not very expressive, so a simple “thank you” from them makes my day. It is also very heart-warming when caregivers say “thank you” or give compliments to show their appreciation. My advice for those who want to join nursing: Don’t just take it up as a job, you should have compassion and passion towards nursing. That’s how you can go a long way.