Monday, December 3, 2012

Teaching from the Heart

She wears a picture of her rabbit on her lanyard; she pastes drawings of bunnies all around her desk; she is known as 'Rabbit mama' to her students. She is an advocate for not only her patients but also for innocent animals. She is Mrs Wan-Koo May Yeok, the Manager of Education Technology in the School of Health Sciences.
Mrs Wan with a drawing given to her by her class.

"This is my rabbit!" she smiled as she showed me the picture of her huge rabbit resting on her lap. To be honest, I was really glad there was someone who really cared for rabbits especially after I just saw Jamie Oliver cooking one on television a few days ago. My Chinese zodiac sign is the rabbit by the way. :P
Mrs Wan's beloved bunny!
This rabbit-lover got her first rabbit when she was in primary two. Though she has kept dogs and cats as well, she has always held a special affinity towards rabbits.

Besides being known as an animal lover, Mrs Wan is also an experienced and beloved lecturer in the School of Health Sciences, specialising in Critical Care.

Visiting her office reveals a cabinet adorned with heartfelt ‘Thank You’ cards written by appreciative classes from years past. When asked about it, Mrs Wan shyly and humbly reveals that her cabinet was not big enough to accommodate all the cards she has received over the years – something she admitted with a tinge of regret.

Her passion for teaching and unwavering care for her students received the ultimate ‘Thank You’ when 33 students from the October 2011 cohort of Advanced Diploma in Nursing (Critical Care) wrote a “Letter of Compliment” to the Ministry of Education.

A small snippet of their three-page letter reads:
“In our 8 months course, Mrs Wan has been enthusiastic and truly passionate in educating and inspiring the spirit of excellence in nursing critically ill patients.

Learning was extremely enjoyable and enriching under the guidance of Mrs Wan. She guided us with a high standard of nursing education that benefitted us very much. With much patience, Mrs Wan ensured that all 33 students understood the arduous conceptual frameworks and theoretical knowledge by making learning interesting and interactive.
Mrs. Wan is not only a capable teacher; she is also extremely passionate about caring for the critically ill patients. During our clinical placements, we observed how genuine she was in caring for the critically ill patients. Her genuine love in caring for the patients has inspired us to place our patients at the heart of all that we do.”

To them, Mrs. Wan is the modern day Nightingale. After spending time with her, I couldn't agree more. Clearly, her mother's passion as a nurse and her father's passion as a teacher have made her a superb educator in the field of nursing.

She felt humbled and touched by that cohort’s gesture. Even though other classes had given her notes of appreciation before, this was the first time her students sent a complimentary letter to the Ministry of Education. “I was speechless!” she mused with a shy laugh.

Mrs Wan is also a true lifelong learner. Like me, she entered nursing after completing her ‘A’ levels. She completed her Certificate in General Nursing in the old School of Nursing before furthering her studies in Australia and the United Kingdom with periods of clinical practice in between. And now, she is focusing on her PhD. She said, "We have to continue to search for evidence-based practices, and cannot be complacent."

"I am not focused on my title, it is the knowledge gained that is important." she added. I was touched when she shared with me her attitude towards learning and teaching. With her nurturing and empathetic character, she is always tempted to return to clinical practice and help patients. But when she looks at the number of students that she has influenced positively through teaching, she knows this is the place for her.

This year, she is taking a short break from the role of course coordination. Her main focus for this year is on the development of an online teaching resource which simulates dementia and wheelchair friendly therapeutic home environment. "We all know how dull studying the textbooks alone can be. This e-learning tool can help students, patients and their family members learn in an interactive manner." she explains. The e-learning resource is currently still being fine-tuned and we can expect to see part of it by the end of the year.

My short meeting with her made me realised that there is more to being a nurse than just being there with the patient - it is just as important for us to share our knowledge and passion with our juniors.  She has made me love my profession even more.

“I want to multiply the seeds of my knowledge,” she said, “I like seeing students come alive. It is very rewarding to see students grow, develop and get better grades”.

When she teaches, she also stresses the importance of loving what you do. “If you can help someone through a tough time, it’s a wonderful feeling. When you provide good care for others and see patients get better – that’s the reward.”

"Whatever you do, do it with passion."

By Kelly Liew, Alumna, Advanced Diploma in Nursing (Midwifery)
Kelly is an Alumna of NYP who obtained an Advanced Diploma in Nursing (Midwifery). She loves reading and cooking. She also likes to spend time with her friends, engaging in relaxing activities. Her friends describe her as unpredictable, spontaneous and inquisitive.

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