Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

A Tale of Two Patients

World Family Doctors' Day falls on 19 May and we hear from our very own family physicians on what inspires them and what they find joy in, both at work and in life.  

In all her years as a Family Physician, Dr Wee Shi Jie, Resident Physician at Bright Vision Hospital (BVH), has seen many patients come and go, but two particular patients have always had a special place in her heart.

Buddy Up
It was under unexpected circumstances that she befriended the first patient, "BVH was still a community hospital then. There is a counter outside of the wards where the doctors would sit and do our work after finishing our rounds, and this older patient with dementia would always make it a point to try and walk out of his cubicle by himself.

When we asked him why he insisted on leaving, he told us that he wanted to wait for his wife at the front gate. It took our nurses a lot of effort to look after him as he would start crying and get upset if they brought him back to the ward.

One day, the nurses asked me if I could help keep an eye out for him and they wheeled him next to me at the counter, hoping that he would stay there. Somehow it worked! He would stay at my side and not go out by himself. Whenever I saw him getting restless, I would pass him some newspapers or talk to him. He would share cute stories with me about his wife and family. Uncle became a regular fixture at the counter and eventually, even his wife would come to look for him there!"

A Little Kindness
The next patient encounter was short but unforgettable.

"There was once I was making my rounds and I had a conversation with a patient's family member which escalated to him threatening and shouting at me. By the end of it, I felt emotionally and mentally drained. All I wanted to do was to leave the ward but I had to finish seeing my other patients. My next patient had witnessed the drama and reached out to give me some encouragement when it was my turn to tend to him. I remember feeling quite speechless and was trying my best to hold back my tears.

In the end, what I took away from that day wasn't the nasty words that were thrown at me, but the kindness that the other patient showed. A little kindness goes a long way; I hope my patients will find in me the same kindness and empathy that I have found in them."

Putting the Self in Care
Being a medical professional is not all smooth sailing. That is why it's always important to take some time off to recharge and refresh yourself. Shi Jie reminds us that staff wellness and patient care is intrinsically tied together. We have to be in good condition ourselves in order to provide the best care for all our patients.

So when the outside noise threatens to overwhelm her, Shi Jie turns to baking, journaling, watching zombie movies, reading (anything written by Neil Gaiman) and embroidery to clear her mind. And when all else fails? It's off to Universal Studios Singapore to ride the roller-coasters. 

"I like trying new things and exploring new places. Pre-pandemic, I loved to explore cities with old towns and streets. I can't wait to get back to doing that again soon!" Shi Jie adds.

To Shi Jie, Joy@Work means…

  1. Being able to help people. You might think it's cliché but it's true!
  2. Constantly challenged to think outside of the box. Every patient is different and every solution to their issues will need to be tailored and fine-tuned.
  3. Meeting different people and hearing their opinions. Sometimes, my patients or my colleagues will teach me life lessons or open up new perspectives for me.
  4. Becoming a better person. After witnessing so many aspects of human behavior and emotions in the hospital, it makes me more tolerant and I can empathise with my patients.

Finding meaning in my work.  My job is to alleviate pain and suffering and give happiness in return. It's quite wonderful.