The greater things in life
by Charles Mak
In the late 1970s when the corridors of Queen Mary Hospital were lined with stretcher beds, Samantha Chong made a decision that makes her life and many others' worth living.
"The opportunity and ability to formulate, influence and implement policies gives my work a new dimension," Ms Chong notes. "As I moved up the ranks, I saw a growing significance of training and support for nurses."
She spent 10 years there before assuming her current position as chief nursing officer at Hong Kong Baptist Hospital. Her role now encompasses responsibilities towards the hospital's nursing and clinical services, part of which involves the upkeep of support and training infrastructure.
Ms Chong believes that clinical experience, strong management and continuous learning are all keys to the development of the nursing profession. "Nursing is an art that requires an amalgamation of academic and clinical knowledge and skills," she notes. "Our profession is now more scientific with greater emphasis on the 'evidence-based' approach, but we must be able to maintain a healthy balance among all these."
She digests the day's news before stepping into the office where overnight reports await her. Clinical and cross-departmental meetings as well as those with nurses, the hospital's management team and the nursing school follow. In spite of her senior position, Ms Chong still derives great pleasure from doing "her rounds", relishing every moment on the frontline with her staff. "Communication with my colleagues is vital in every aspect of my job," she stresses. "Our endeavour is simple: to make sure that patients receive the best treatment and care."
People suffering from the loss of a loved one usually go through various stages of grief. Nursing and medical staff may become the outlet for emotional discharge and are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner in any given situation. "Individuals that are able to keep their emotions at bay may be well suited to the job. However, we don't so much as curb our feelings but learn to understand and handle them so as to render care to others," notes Ms Chong. "The level of emotional consciousness helps us discharge our duties with empathy and offer proper medical and psychological support with confidence and compassion."
The unceasing shortage of nursing professionals is apparent all over the world. In Hong Kong, this has caused practising nurses to stretch their hours habitually. "Universities and hospitals in Hong Kong do produce a number of nurses every year. People holding a university degree may also take advantage of several conversion programmes. But, the supply never seems to satisfy the demand," Ms Chong laments.