Mr Christopher Lee, an orthopaedic nurse from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), once cared for a patient for over six months — after the latter was discharged.
“I made regular visits to his home after work to help clean his wound, to prevent any infection,” says the 49-year-old nurse clinician.
“We eventually became friends,” he added.
For going the extra mile for his patients, Mr Lee received the Healthcare Humanity Award last month.
Started in 2004, the annual award recognises health-care workers who go beyond the call of duty, and is the highest honour local professionals can receive. Mr Lee is one of 13 health-care professionals from Tan Tock Seng Hospital bestowed with this honour this year.
On winning the award, he says he was “just helping a fellow human being”. His 29 years in the nursing profession have not dented his desire to go beyond the call of duty — he keeps in touch with patients long after their discharge.
Mr Lee is also a volunteer with the local trauma register as part of a pool of medical volunteers who offer their services in times of crisis across the region. He volunteered with a humanitarian team in war-torn East Timor in 2000 and again in 2001 in flood-hit villages in India, providing medical aid to disaster victims.
The constant opportunity to help those in need was what made him fall in love with the job.
“Patients appreciate it when you offer a listening ear and a kind word,” says Mr Lee.
Among other job perks, the nursing veteran cherishes the ample opportunities to upgrade his skills.
Having specialised in the treatment of broken bones, he received a one-year scholarship in 1993 from the Public Service Commission to pursue an advanced orthopaedic course at Australia’s New South Wales College of Nursing. He also studied at the British Orthopaedic Association for six weeks in 2008.
Now a senior nurse clinician certified in casting and plastering techniques, Mr Lee is much sought after by patients, nurses and doctors for his skills.
“As a nurse clinician, Christopher shows compassion and selflessness by reaching out to patients even after their discharge, helping them to recover through his expertise and experience,” says TTSH’s nursing service deputy director Lee Leng Noey.
Despite his flair for the job, Mr Lee says he was never called into nursing. The father of one first took up the job out of curiosity. It required hard work but he quickly grew to love it, he says.
Over the years, male nurses have also become the norm rather than the exception, thanks to the increasing demand for health-care professionals.
First introduced in TTSH in 1993, nurse clinicians like Mr Lee complement the roles of doctors and surgeons by providing patients with information and skills that help them to best manage their conditions.
Such specialised nurses spend time telling patients about their conditions and help them make the necessary lifestyle adjustments, freeing up doctors to focus on diagnoses and treatment procedures.
Those who show good potential can rise up the ranks and become advanced practice nurses. Despite their advanced qualifications, these senior nurses continue to focus on clinical work, working directly with patients and their families.
“I believe anyone who chooses to join us will find that it is a very fulfilling and challenging job that is never boring” says Mr Lee, whose wife is also a health-care professional.
If given a chance, would he take up nursing and do it all over again?
“Why not? It’s a joy to enjoy what you’re doing and get paid doing it,” he says.