Puan Jamilah Ibrahim
Chief Nursing Officer Nursing Officer
Kumpulan Mediiman Sdn Bhd
NURSING is a caring and a very challenging profession.
In a meeting with Inspirasi TDM, Jamilah Ibrahim, chief nursing officer Nursing Officer, Kumpulan Mediiman Sdn Bhd (KMI), gave some insights into the nursing world.
Jamilah oversees nursing in the four hospitals under the group.
When she was the chief nurse at Universiti Hospital (now Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya, PPUM) in the early 1980s, she saw how a young paediatric cancer patient came in. She monitored his condition closely as it steadily deteriorated until he finally died.
“Coming from a broken family following the parents’ divorce, this young patient befriended a ‘neighbouring’ young female patient who was in a critical condition.”
He knew he was going to die but he wanted to see how it would happen to his new found friend.
“On that day when it was apparent that his young friend would not last the night, the young patient was so upset that he refused to sleep. He was awake all through the night to comfort his friend until she died”, Jamilah recalled with tears in her eyes.
It is not unknown for nurses to quietly take their own initiatives to uplift the spirit of patients and their families.
Jamilah recalled, “During one fasting month, the nurses collected money to provide sahur for mothers who looked after their children in the ward.
The night shift duty nurses who finished work would do the marketing in the morning, take their rest, cook in the evening and bring the food to work.
We would then invite the mothers of our young patients to join us in our sahur.”
The nurses in one hospital helped organise a charity day, collected money for the young patients and their families in the wards.
“People only see nurses in the hospital manning the nurse counter, dressing a patient, taking blood pressure or temperature reading, giving medication to patients. But we nurses do a lot of behind-the-scenes work for patients and their families that is beyond our job specifications.”
It can also be just a few words of encouragement, a smile or lovingly fuss over a patient after her or she has had a dificult treatment or a painful injection given. The treatment is also extended to the patient’s caregiver.
Jamilah also shared another interesting insight.
“We had our differences with doctors over how patients were treated, not the professional aspect of medical treatment but the human touch, the psychological aspect.
It is part of our duty. We talk to the doctors on behalf of the patients and their families. There was one instance whereby a cancer patient’s palate had dropped. The doctor even scolded me.
He said “If you are too concerened, why don’t you cut the palate yourself?”
Perhaps the doctor was overworked or stressed but then patients deserve the best care and attention until the end. Jamilah’s reply was, “Doctor, please consider the patient as your own family. I know she will go but let her go comfortably.”
Most of the time, however, the doctors and nurses work together hand in hand.
“Together we help patients to recover.”
On the quality of nurses, Jamilah stressed that the nurses should have very important qualities – sympathy, empathy and patience.
Patients are often in pain, mentally and physically and need attention. They can also become more demanding.
“Sometimes they are depressed. They find it difficult to accept to accept their situation. They want hospital staff to act fast.”
The fact of the matter is nurses too are ordinary human beings with feelings.
“Sometimes they are under pressure. At times doctors tend to look down on them, especially the junior nurses. There are also family and other problems.”
As a former counsellor who used to counsel nurses at PPUM, Pn Jamilah said some of the problems faced by nurses include poor performance and inability to concentrate.
Jamilah stressed that safety of patients is paramount and nurses should leave whatever problems at home.
“If nurses are not focussed or are stressed, errors can happen. They must be responsible for the safety of patients and their recovery.”