Featuring Sister Kala, Recipient of the President's Award for Nurses 2020
Nursing is a lifelong career choice for her
Kala joined nursing out of a love for the white uniform and what it represents, as well as her mother's wishes for her daughters to become nurses.
Whenever she dons her uniform, Kala still feels a sense of pride, achievement and professionalism. "Even now, after 40 years, when I think about the day when I first put on the uniform, bunning up my hair and putting on the nursing cap which was part of the uniform then, it brings back a kind of feeling you can't describe."
Nursing has guided her throughout her life. "When I took up nursing, nursing was like my mom nurturing, guiding, and teaching me the dos and don'ts. As I grew into the role, it became my sister, whom I can challenge and question yet be very comfortable with her company. As I took on a more senior role, nursing became my child to protect and watch it grow and glow."
Nursing nurtures you
As a champion for patients and nurses, Kala believes that patients can benefit from good nursing mentorship. She explained, "When you're a mentor, you cultivate the passion for what you are doing for the patients and that in turn results in good habits benefitting many more patients.
"There are two things I like to do. I love nursing and I like teaching. When I was given the role in clinical nurse education, I was on cloud seven, and it was a fantastic and enjoyable journey."
Age is not the limit
At age 59, Kala has no intention to slow down or retire, when it comes to helping another nurse. That explains her choice to join Woodlands Health Campus, an integrated health campus that is currently being built.
"Our Chief Nurse, Lay Hoon, is well known for her generous nature and lends a helping hand to anyone who comes to her. When the Chief Nurse of Woodlands Health Campus called me to join her, I agreed and here I am. I am most happy when we could work together and am able to contribute my experience and take projects that need assistance."
As WHC's Deputy Director of Nursing, Kala's work involves planning and development of the clinical workflow for the new campus in the North that is slated to open progressively in 2022. A forward thinker, change agent and strong advocate for nurses, she has initiated reviews and redefined the roles of ward nurse, Advance Practice Nurse (APN) and Nurse Clinician in the WHC pre-operation wards through the piloting of the Enhance care area and empowering nurses to explore ways for patients to recover faster and shorten their length of stay. Over the last two years, Kala has groomed more than 10 Assistant Nurse Clinicians and Nurse Clinicians to take on leadership roles.
When the COVID-19 outbreak happened, Kala tapped on her experience during SARS and acted swiftly. She initiated a 12-hour shift for the nursing leaders and deployed a group of nurses to the Community Care Facilities and Intensive Care Unit. She and her team worked together with the medical and operations team in converting normal wards into COVID-19 wards within a short period of time while instituting standard operating procedure and workflows for these wards.
Kala's Thoughts about Winning the Top Accolade
I am thrilled about getting this award but what really makes me happy is to see the joy it brought to the people around me. So many people have played a role in helping me to become who I am, and the award belongs to my family, friends, the Woodlands Health Campus family, and to the two hospitals where I started my journey as a nurse - Tan Tock Seng and Toa Payoh Hospital.
"Nursing will never fail to reward you. You give Nursing 100%, Nursing will always repay you back by 200%.
About Sister Kala
Kala has been contributing to Nursing Service in Singapore since 1982. Her exemplary conduct in nursing, leadership management and display of ethos has seen her progress from Enrolled Nurse to Registered Nurse, and eventually specializing in Orthopaedics as a Registered Nurse. At the mature stage of her career, Kala contributed further to nursing services in the Intermediate and Long-Term Care and Private Sector with various projects and voluntary work.
Viewed as a role model by many young nurses, Kala is a firm believer in nurturing and grooming future leaders in Nursing. As she takes on varied senior roles with more supervisory duties, her priority now lies in nurturing exemplary nurses, promoting the image of nursing and grooming the next generation of nurses to lead this honourable profession. She envisions an enhanced role for nurses, particularly through the use of technology, in meeting future healthcare demand.