'Can you help?'
White angels' stories

By Chloris Ho

    Traditionally, people think that nurses are helpers of doctors who stay in hospitals looking after patients.
     “Yet the status of nurses in Hong Kong is changing in the medical system,” said Mr. Patrick Callaghan, nursing courses coordinator at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. “They are now playing different roles.”
     “There are those to take intensive care of the patients, administrators in hospitals and professors in universities,” said Mr. Callaghan.
     “Therefore there is a great need to provide a greater variety of courses to meet the change,” Mr. Callaghan added.

            Courtesy of CUHK Nursing Department
          "It's our duty to take care of our patients, but we just don't           have enough hands," says Ms Lo.
     Students can attend nursing degree courses in universities or training courses in nursing schools before they are registered as nurses by the Nursing Board of Hong Kong.
     The nursing school of Queen Mary Hospital offers a 3-year program for nursing students.
     Students usually have lectures in classrooms and practice on wards that teach them basic nursing knowledge, management and clinical caring skills.
     Said Ms Ruby Leung, head of Queen Mary Hospital Nursing School: “The target of these courses is to equip nurses with the ability to take independent actions in different specialties.
     “Also, nurses are expected to acquire analytical and decision-making skills by the end of the courses,” added Ms Leung.
     Practice on wards accounts for two-thirds of the total time of these courses. “Our students learn much more from their practice on wards than during lectures,” Ms Leung said.
     Other than courses provided by nursing schools in hospitals, some universities such as The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University have nursing degree courses.
     The aim of the nursing program provided by the Chinese University is to develop nurses with thorough understanding about nursing skills and the essential ability to make critical judgements.
     “We cover psychological, sociological and biological knowledge of patients in the program, so that students are able to choose the best treatment for them,” said Prof. Diana T. F. Lee, assistant professor in Department of Nursing at the Chinese University.
     “Actually, nurses are the main coordinators of all health teams, patients and their families,” Prof. Lee said.
     Student nurses have chances to practise in designated hospitals throughout the program.
     “We demand our students to be concerned about patients’ feelings in addition to their clinical caring,” said Prof. Yvonne Siu Yin Wootten, another assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at the Chinese University.
     In fact, even registered nurses nurses have many chances to refresh and update their theoretical and practical knowledge.
     The Hospital Authority provides short-term courses for registered nurses and enrolled nurses in the hospitals under its control.
     The College of Nursing Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University also hold refresher courses for registered nurses and enrolled nurses, including those in private hospitals.
     The content of their courses includes clinical training, health assessment, specialities training and management skills.
     “The aim of these courses is to update knowledge of nurses and refresh theories they have learnt years ago,” said Mr. Ng Kwong Wah, a member of the College of Nursing Hong Kong.
     “We are giving an opportunity to registered nurses to get degrees and upgrade their knowledge,” added Mr. Callaghan.
     “In most cases, patients are not troublesome,” said Ms Felita Chan, a registered nurse in Queen Mary Hospital, “they only want us to do things that they cannot do by themselves.”
     Ms Ashley Lo, Ms Chan’s colleague, thinks that the main problem she faces is taking care of 10 patients at a time.
     “I have only one pair of hands, but there are over 10 patients waiting for my help,” said Ms Lo. “What can I do if one of them gets hurt?
     “The possibility of being punished and the guilty feelings, just because I really have no time for all the patients, contribute to my stress,” Ms Lo said.
     “I often share my sadness with my instructors when I feel miserable, as they are experienced and considerate,” said Ms Lo.
     Department of Nursing at the Chinese University organises workshops to discuss topics that students may have problems dealing with.
     With the limited amount of nurses but ever increasing demand in the medical sector, nurses now are expected to give health education and rehabilitation care to their patients as well.
     “Nurses do not just stay in hospitals and wait for orders,” said Prof. Lee. “They design projects to promote health education.
     “Even if they are working in hospitals, they have to set formula of caring programs for different patients.”

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November 1997

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