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Angels of the ward, toast of the world
By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-13 06:17

The Ministry of Health and the All-China Women's Federation yesterday praised 149 nurses and 224 hospitals across China for their outstanding nursing performance.

Their congratulations came on International Nurses Day an event to commemorate the birthday of the world's first known professional nurse, Florence Nightingale, a Briton who lived from 1820 to 1910.

International Nurses' Day was set up two years after the death of Nightingale during the Ninth International Red Cross Conference in Washington. A total of 38 Chinese nurses have obtained the Nightingale Award, the top international nursing honour since New China's first access to compete the bi-annual laurel event in 1983.

"Nursing is an essential part of public health care," said Health Minister Gao Qiang.

There are 1.3 million registered nurses on the Chinese mainland, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the skilled medical professionals, announced Gao.

More and more nurses are required to have bilingual skills and international communication experience.

In Beijing, a "bilingual nursing service" project was launched on Wednesday to encourage more nurses to increase their international perspective before the 2008 Olympic Games.

There are about 100 nurses in the capital who have been on the staff nurse training programme, who have embarked on overseas working and exchange programmes over the past decade.

Joyce Song is one of them. She cherished her two-year overseas nursing experience in Singapore as a good opportunity to change her work concept.

"The patient is a customer. What I should do is supply the best service I can," said Song, who is head nurse with Beijing-based International SOS.

She believes taking good care of the patients to relieve their pain both physically and psychologically is the obligation of a nurse.

After 20 years devotion to nursing, Song, 38, hopes she achieve more than just being a paramedic.

"Nursing is a subject of economics, deserving deeper study, but few people realize this...I am expecting the commercialization of the study to benefit both the patients and the nurses," she said.

During her staying at the General Hospital in Singapore, language was not barrier, because she had passed the English proficiency test before her departure.

"What surprised me is the concept," she said..

"I was deprived of the phlebotomy and injection opportunity. What I was supposed to body clean the patients, including take them to shower," Joyce recalled.

She and her fellow nurses were depressed being treated like a domestic helper, not a nurse.

But then she realized that even a shower can help her find the physical problems of the patients, which smoothed the patients' treatment and recovery.

"Medical treatment works better under the circumstances of considerate nursing and communication," she said.

(China Daily 05/13/2005 page2)

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