Appreciating health care workers
Mitali Barman’s first visit to Southeast Asia was Singapore. The assistant professor from the Asian Institute of Nursing Education, Guwahati, Assam, India, was in the sunny island in April 2017 to attend the Asia Nurse Leaders Forum. And there, it was as if Southeast Asia had come to visit her too. The Forum saw health care professionals from more than 10 countries gathering to discuss the state of nursing in Asia.
Professor Barman, 40, was most interested in the ways that various health care institutions appreciate their staff, especially since health care workers globally are often taken for granted, and the turn-over rates are high. “I want to know how we can better motivate our nurses and workers,” she says.
At the Forum, she learnt about the many initiatives that can come together to create a culture of gratitude. “These may include rewards or awards,” she says. “But there is more too. In Singapore, for example, there is also a special day set aside to honour nurses nationwide. They call this the Nurses Day.”
Another way of appreciating staff is to develop paths of progression for them, Professor Barman adds. “This is where teaching institutions become important,” she says. “When staff keep learning, they have more opportunities, and they get to do new things. It’s very motivating.”
The final aspect is about making hospitals and health care institutions more work- and patientfriendly. When the environment is conducive, everyone – from the nurses to the patients – is happier. A good environment doesn’t require huge changes, says Professor Barman. It may simply be about introducing small, practical solutions. The fall risk documentation is one, she says. “It’s a simple chart that shows the patient’s fall risk history or factor. Once nurses see this, they immediately get a clearer idea of how to care for the patient. It’s something I’ll like to consider implementing back in India.”
Participant from the Asian Institute of Nursing Education, Guwahati, Assam, India, in: Temasek Foundation International @ 10 Asia Nurse Leaders Forum by SingHealth and Singapore Nurses Association
Text by Wong Shu Yun.
*More of such stories can be found in Temasek Foundation International's 10th anniversary commemorative book 'Leading Journeys: Inspirations for Asia and Beyond".