'Mother of nursing'

With a career spanning over 40 years, Associate Prof Lim Swee Hia is known to Singapore's nurses as the "Mother of Nursing".

In recognition of her contributions to the nursing profession, Assoc Prof Lim, 63, on Wednesday was given Her World magazine's Woman of the Year 2013 award.

In 2010, as Group Director of Nursing and Director of Nursing at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Heart Centre Singapore (NCHS), she was instrumental in helping SGH obtain the Magnet Accreditation, the highest accolade for nursing excellence and leadership. She holds multiple portfolios, including Senior Director of the SingHealth Alice Lee Institute of Advance Nursing and Director of Special Projects at SGH and NHCS.

1 You have a phobia of blood. How did you overcome it as a nurse?

When I started out as a paediatric nurse at 17 years old, I had to close my eyes and say a prayer when doctors performed incisions. After a few times, I told myself that this is my profession and I should have the courage to overcome my fears.

2 Who was your most memorable patient?

There was a newly-wed in her 20s who suffered from Tetralogy of Fallot (a congenital heart disease) and she had blue lips when I first tended to her. But by the end of her one month's stay in the ward, she was beautiful, with her lips returning to a healthy pink colour. Her family was very grateful to us and I felt very satisfied to be a part of her recovery.

3 During all those years as a nurse, did you ever feel like giving up?

I never thought of it. I know it is a very tough job, but I always tell myself I can do better for the future of nursing.

4 What's the most rewarding aspect of nursing?

Nursing is widely known as a demanding profession and yet, it is able to attract a high percentage of female employees who effectively juggle their roles at work, at home and in the community. It is a great privilege to be able to work alongside these extraordinary individuals and to be inspired by them personally and professionally.


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