Caring for people is her life's work

SINGAPORE - It had never crossed Ms Jancy Mathews' mind to take up a career in nursing when she was a young adult. After all, she had been set on getting a job as a secretary.

But, at 19, she left her job as a clerk in Sentosa Development Corporation to become a nurse despite strong objections from her father, who knew about the heavy demands of nursing.

"I realised that a desk-bound job was not something I could do for a long time," said the 52-year-old.

Ms Mathews' then boyfriend, Mr Patrick Cross - who saw how good she was at relating to people - encouraged her to go into nursing.

Today, she is the deputy director of nursing services at National Healthcare Group Polyclinics. She is also happily married to Mr Cross, 60, who runs a freight-forwarding business.

"Frankly, I had no idea how tough (nursing) would be," said Ms Mathews.

The graveyard shifts, for instance, were challenging and difficult to get used to.

Dealing with very ill patients in the intensive-care unit was also "emotionally draining", she added.

But what pushed her to stay on in her job was knowing that her patients have a chance at recovery and that she was helping them regain their health.

Ms Mathews said that being able to help young nurses with their professional development gives her "great satisfaction".

"Taking them under my wing means having more nurses out there to touch even more patients and people - that has really kept me going," she said.

What motivates you at work?

The ability to be an agent for change.

The ability to identify, motivate and groom leaders, and the passion to drive excellence in the delivery of nursing care for women and children at a primary-care level - all of that gives me great fulfilment in my work.

Do you work hard or work smart, and why?

It's a bit of both. In nursing, we tend to work very hard (but) we also include a "work smart" strategy to increase the value and level of efficiency in our work.

What attribute do you pride yourself most on having?

It would be my personality - I am a people person, in that I have the ability to relate to people at all levels.

It gives me confidence in approaching patients and helps ease stressful situations.

What do you think are the top qualities for a good executive?

Good executives are tenacious, eager to learn and they build rapport with others.

Any words of advice for young executives out there?

There's no one straight recipe for success, but it's important to give your best in your work.

This is true especially where nursing is concerned; it's not just a job, but a humane duty that should be delivered with passion, compassion and devotion.

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