As we commemorate Nurses Day, we pay tribute to the nurses in our midst. Sheeja Pradeep, 40, had been working as a nurse in her home country, India, when she was given the opportunity to embark on a career caring for persons with disabilities at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled (RCHD) in Singapore. Despite facing challenges during the initial phase of her career with RCHD, she has learnt to embrace compassion, empathy, and patience to love and care for its residents with severe disabilities.
If you were to ask Sheeja Pradeep what makes a nurse, she’d say determination, passion and patience.
Nurses1 play an indispensable role in our society. They monitor patients' health and well-being, learn about patients' preferences, needs, behaviours, habits and concerns. Nurses also educate patients and their families on treatments, procedures, medications and their side effects, while emphasising the importance of proper nutrition, good hygiene, healthy practices and active lifestyles in helping the patient heal. They also leverage their expertise and network to provide referrals for other services, resources and classes.
Sheeja Pradeep, 40, has been working as a nursing aide at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled (RCHD) for five years. Hailing from India, Sheeja had always known that her passion lies in nursing, a profession where she can help those in need.
“Since young, my mother has always encouraged me to be kind to people in need. She had instilled the importance of compassion and empathy in me. Since my childhood, I have aspired to be in nursing,” said Sheeja.
Back in her home country, Sheeja had worked as a nurse for more than five years. In 2018, she received a job offer to work at the RCHD in Singapore through an agency. It was a clear-cut decision for Sheeja as her family had always espoused kindness. Additionally, her compassionate and empathetic nature reinforced her resolve to continue her career in nursing.
As a nursing aide in RCHD, Sheeja's responsibilities include caring for the residents and recording their vital signs. She also assists them with showering, feeding, and Nasogastric Tube (NGT) feeding when needed.
Overcoming Challenges With Care And Love
Caring for persons with disabilities is not an easy feat. Sheeja acknowledged that her first few days with RCHD were overwhelming and she wondered if it was the right job for her.
“All our residents are severely disabled and they rely on us for all their daily living activities. As the residents cannot communicate or verbalise their needs, I struggled to understand them. Over time, I have learnt to comprehend their gestures, or the noises they make," she said.
Despite the rocky start, Sheeja's passion and desire for nursing motivated her to change her outlook and mindset. She made the paradigm shift by embracing love and respect in caring for the residents.
"I challenged myself to rise above the difficulties. Although working with persons with disabilities was hard, it was also rewarding. I do my utmost to meet their needs, and I gain a sense of accomplishment and joy when they are happy and well taken care of," Sheeja said.
Another hurdle Sheeja faces is being apart from her family in India. Inevitably, Sheeja misses them greatly. To cope with being apart from her family for long periods of time, she connects with them frequently through phone calls.
A Rewarding Career
Sheeja sees nursing as a career where one gains as much as one gives.
Whenever she encounters stumbling blocks, the appreciation she receives from the residents' motivates her to give her best on the job.
She fondly recounted when the residents greeted her with love and affection when she returned to RCHD after a visit to her family in India.
“Upon my return to RCHD, I was amazed when the residents showed their love, affection and joy through their smiles and some verbal communication. That was one of my most memorable moments with the Red Cross,” she said.
Sheeja is also thankful to have her colleagues' and superiors' support, amid hectic schedules and emergency situations.
Despite the challenges, Sheeja believes that nursing is a fulfilling career. She strongly encourages people with a passion for taking care of others and who possess to become a nurse.
"People who have a passion for caring for others, as well as tenacity, willpower, and patience will thrive as nurses," she said.
Nurses play an integral role in every country around the world.
"Nurses often embody attributes such as compassion, empathy, and the unwavering commitment to care for their patients. Their passion, dedication, labour of love, and steadfast contributions do not go unnoticed. They are much appreciated," Sheeja said.
By Shariffah Hana Alsagoff, Intern
Copyedited by Jolyn Lee, Volunteer