Sarawak’s own Florence Nightingales

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
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It was a year ago when my grandmother had to be rushed to the hospital. Earlier in the day, she had been complaining of headache, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Shortly after that, she fainted.

Normally, people are just told to lie down for a while and take a rest, but being a 90-year-old woman, the whole family took her condition seriously and my aunt immediately packed her stuff and sent her to the hospital.

After being admitted to the hospital, the doctor and nurses immediately examined her, asking several questions and putting her on an IV drip in case of dehydration.

I remembered it was at night when I got a call from my aunt asking if I could stay with my grandmother for one night just in case anything untoward happened. I said okay, that’s fine. It made sense that I, a younger person, should take care of a much older person.

My aunt and uncle looked exhausted by the time I reached the hospital, so I was glad I managed to take the burden off them even for a short while.

Hours and hours slowly passed and my grandmother slept peacefully. With nothing much to do, I just passed  the time reading a book and before I realised it, the clock struck 1 am.

Okay, this is the part where if I am still up in a strange new place, I begin to imagine all sorts of weird stuff like “What if a ghost suddenly appeared?”, “What if a serial killer suddenly barged in the room?” or “What if I suddenly walked into a room which was actually connected to another dimension?”

It was 2 o’clock in the morning when I decided to venture out of the room as I could not fall asleep, and surprisingly I found three nurses lingering in the hallway on standby in case the patients needed any assistance.

They smiled when I passed them and asked whether I needed anything.

When morning came, the same nurses I met earlier came in to check on my grandmother. Even though they had been working throughout the night, the nurses still had their smiley faces on and were happy to assist my grandmother.

Although it is common knowledge that doctors save lives, what we often overlook is how the nurses also bear a great responsibility as well as dedication in taking care of the patients.

On February 22nd, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) held its 5th Unimas Nursing Student’s Conference 2014 at Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra with the theme ‘Nurses: A force for change-A vital source for health”.

We managed to root out four final year students and ask them what inspired them to join the nursing field.

Michelle Sally Atong, fourth year nursing student:

Nursing - p1

Michelle’s interest in pursuing her education in the nursing field started early on since most of her aunts were staff nurses.

When she first started the course, Michelle thought that the role of a nurse was limited to taking care of the patient and cleaning up after them, but after joining the nursing field, she realised that a nurse’s role was much broader and more vital.

It was in her third year when Michelle realised her passion in gerontology, the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging. As our aging population is increasing in our community short of good nursing homes, Michelle would like to contribute her skills and knowledge in improving healthcare for the aged.

Andrew Lawrence, fourth year nursing student:

Nursing - p2Andrew worked eight and a half years in Adelaide, Australia as a nurse.

Married to a Sarawakian woman, the couple moved to Sarawak where he chose to pursue his undergraduate degree in Unimas.

When asked what inspired him to join the nursing field, he said that it had all happened by accident.

Initially he was in the computing field for two years but after realising that he was shut in a room surrounded by computers and little human interaction, he decided he’d rather spend his time with people and do his best to help them which is how he ended up becoming a nurse.

Anith Al-Bakri, fourth year nursing student:

Nursing - p3

Initially, Anith was disappointed when she got an offer for pursuing her education in the nursing field as it was not her main choice.

After discussing it over with her family, they advised her to just go with the flow. As she got to learn more about the nursing course, she began to love it and understand the important role a nurse had in the community.

She believes that as a nurse, you are closer to the patient as you are able to connect with them emotionally. Ever since then, her passion of becoming a nurse has only intensified.

Lina Wong, Fourth year nursing student:

Nursing - p4Before Lina’s grandmother succumbed to her  sickness years ago, she had been hospitalised for a week.

Back then, with no medical background or  knowledge, Lina was helpless as she and her family could only depend on the doctors and nurses to take care of her sick grandmother whom they felt had not been given adequate care by the staff nurses. 

That helplessness became a turning point for Lina as she dedicated herself to becoming a nurse so that she could ensure that patients and family members would get the care, attention and support they deserved from staff nurses.

When asked, Lina feels that compassion and a passion in caring for others are important in carrying out a nurse’s duty, remembering the satisfaction of taking care of a stroke patient during her clinical attachment in a hospital.


The two-day conference attracted 760 participants made up of student nurses, registered nurses, sisters and matrons from various nursing institutions throughout Malaysia. In this conference, the participants are exposed to eight continuous nursing education (CNE), four free papers, four innovation project presentation and they will also be able to involved in a form with distinguish panel members in the nursing field.

Nurses make up as the largest group of health professionals who are the closest and often the only available health workers to the population globally. As they are also the forefront of the medical services, they bear great responsibility and dedication in treating patients.

So, if any of you feel that you would like to contribute something good and positive to the community, you might want to consider nursing the best way to do so.

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