SITizen Buzz

Caring for the Mind

Nursing alumnus Rae Wong stepped up to help migrant workers at the dormitories in the fight against COVID-19, going beyond her work at the Institute of Mental Health

2 Oct 2020
Rae Wong
Rae Wong, Class of 2019, Bachelor of Science with Honours in Nursing, is a Staff Nurse at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). She supported the fight against COVID-19 through facilitating testing and providing care at migrant worker dormitories earlier this year.

Rae Wong’s choice of a nursing career at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) had roots in her childhood. Growing up in a neighbourhood near IMH, she and the community around her regularly encountered patients passing through the area, and as a kid she would often greet and talk to them. Her neighbours would also go the extra mile, buying food for them to eat.

This familiarity with mental health patients strongly influenced her decision to be a Staff Nurse, working daily with doctors, therapists, social workers and allied health professionals to give holistic care to IMH’s patients. Rae cares not only for their mental well-being but their physical well-being (helping them cope with diabetes or hypertension, among other conditions) as well. “Sometimes, patients come to us saying they feel troubled or sad, and we counsel them,” she explains. “A special part of being a psychiatric nurse is that beyond providing care, we are also the therapeutic tool for patients. We are there to allay our patients’ anxieties, forge relationships with them, and establish trust, so we can help them get better and go back to their lives.”

Because each relationship is different, patient care of this kind can go beyond traditional ways of showing support. Rae recounts an example: “I once brought a long-stay patient to a medical appointment outside IMH. She had not been outside the hospital for a few months.  I wheeled her wheelchair to a full glass window so that she could see the scenery. She said, ‘So nice! But I miss home.’ While waiting for the doctor, she got bored and started singing Hokkien songs to herself. I then searched for Hokkien karaoke videos on YouTube and played them on my phone. She became very happy and started singing along. Although a small gesture, this moment will always have a place in my heart because I had built a deeper understanding with my patient.”  

2020 also brought Rae new and meaningful encounters. At the height of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, she volunteered to help with testing and providing care to migrant workers at the dormitories. “It was a great experience, because deployment let me witness a different aspect of nursing. It was good to be able to help a different community with a separate set of challenges to tackle. It was nice to interact with the foreign workers and I also learnt some Bengali and Thai words to engage them better as well.” 

Even after graduating, Rae finds that the SIT-DNA remains relevant to her calling. “In particular, I remember Learn, Unlearn and Relearn. Hospital policies can differ from the school curriculum. Hence, I have learnt to humble myself to relearn everything that I need to know. My involvement in IMH and the COVID-19 deployment is an example of me staying grounded in the community. After obtaining a degree from SIT, I still want to serve and give back to society.”

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