The dynamic Dr. Sheena Ramazanu, 33, is a trailblazer in today’s global healthcare landscape. As a nurse specialising in Clinical Research, Sheena is currently embarking on a new chapter at the Hong Kong Metropolitan University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies as an Assistant Professor. Her journey in nursing has been marked by numerous accolades, including the prestigious Royal Society for Public Health Fellowship (FRSPH), which she was conferred in 2023.
Sheena’s academic journey began a decade ago at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), where she pursued her nursing degree, which was then offered by the University of Manchester. Achieving first-class honours in 2014, coupled with an Outstanding Dissertation Achievement Award, laid the cornerstone for her successful and thriving career today.
Driven by a vision of progress, she aspires to integrate technological solutions using participatory design methods, aiming to tackle key health issues in the Asian-Pacific region. For Sheena, it’s a critical issue, as she explains: “The challenge is in how to design and deliver the best person-centred care to individual patients and family caregivers amidst underlying complexities.“
A pursuit of passion
Sheena’s passion for nursing was evident during her days at Nanyang Polytechnic, when she was the top nursing student with a 3.97 GPA. Back then, she was passionate about community outreach and actively volunteered in various organisations and communities in Singapore and abroad.
During her studies at SIT, she was also interested in clinical settings beyond traditional hospitals. These included senior daycare centres, nursing homes, as well as hospices specialising in end-of-life care which, for her, gave a holistic overview of the various health services offered in the community.
In fact, it was her clinical placement at a hospice that left a lasting impact on her. There, she encountered a stage four metastatic breast cancer patient in persistent pain, despite being given maximum painkiller dosages. The patient also exhibited emotional outbursts during meals and would often throw the food away. “She was feeling very angry with her poor prognosis and that she had no one with her during her final moments. In difficult situations, I learned to remain patient. After some time, she started opening up to me. With the right levels of care, we can momentarily heal wounds that are invisible to the eyes,” Sheena reminisces.
Following the completion of her bachelor’s degree, Sheena secured a University of Manchester Scholarship for her Master’s in Clinical Research in 2014. Seeing the limited opportunity to pursue a PhD after graduation, Sheena decided to apply for the PhD fellowship at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and eventually won the grant in 2017. As Sheena reflects: “I lived in Hong Kong for three years, learnt conversational Cantonese, and embraced the lovely culture.”
While pursuing her Masters and PhD, Sheena served as a Registered Nurse with Alexandra Health (Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Yishun Community Hospital) for seven years. Throughout her tenure, she has consistently been acknowledged as a service champion, recognised annually for her outstanding commitment to excellence.
The path to teaching
Following a suite of remarkable accomplishments, Sheena’s next goal was to mentor and inspire the next generation of nurses. “I’ve always aspired to be a nurse educator and a social entrepreneur, potentially solving community-based problems with novel applications.”
For nursing to thrive professionally, more nurse leaders are needed to take charge and lead the way forward. “My studies at SIT made me realise that healthcare does not begin in hospitals,” she iterates. “Therefore, my key role as an educator is to impart knowledge, nurture intellectual curiosity, and invest in the nursing students’ personal growth and character formation.”
While a nursing career is a work of heart, there is an urgent need for more nurses across Singapore in order to meet the evolving demands of our healthcare system. The growing ageing population, coupled with the increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses, has heightened the need for healthcare services.
Nurses play a critical role not only in acute care settings, but also in community healthcare, preventive initiatives, and addressing the diverse healthcare needs of the population. This is why the nursing programme has always held a significant importance within SIT.
The nursing degree at SIT began as a programme offered by the University of Manchester. It later evolved to a joint programme with the University of Glasgow, for registered nurses. SIT now offers a new pre-registration nursing programme: the 3+2-year Integrated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programme, which is open for admissions for academic year 2024.
A unique nursing degree
In response to the growing demand for specialist nurses, SIT is the first autonomous university in Singapore to offer a through-train Bachelor’s to Master’s pathway. The five-year BSN-MSN programme features a seamless three-year bachelor’s-level study followed by a two-year master’s-level study, shaping future nursing leaders to meet the needs of a growing burden of chronic and complex health conditions.
Combining Term-In-Term-Out and Work-Study approaches, the BSN-MSN programme ensures students are “practice-ready” by combining on-campus modules and clinical residencies during the BSN phase. The MSN phase follows a work-study approach, enabling nurses to remain in practice in the clinical setting while training them to be specialist nurses. The BSN-MSN pathway also shortens the time needed to qualify for specialist training programmes, targeting those interested in the specialties of nursing, from medical/surgical to peri-operative and community care. Students can also grasp the changing role of nursing in healthcare by embracing digital technology, enabling them to pioneer innovative care pathways.
Developed in collaboration with SingHealth, students benefit from on-ground training, faculty-driven research, and innovation projects. In addition, there are opportunities for development, sponsorships, and employment with SingHealth. Graduates will not only be highly competent nurses helping to develop solutions to meet future healthcare challenges, but they will also enhance the quality of healthcare in Singapore.
Nursing as a lifelong career
More than just a career choice, especially for practitioners like Sheena, nursing offers a sense of personal satisfaction derived from helping others during vulnerable moments. The demand for qualified nurses is consistently high, as it is a profession that has significant societal impact. In addition, a nursing education equips individuals with versatile skills, fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication – attributes valuable in any profession.
For those contemplating a career in nursing, Sheena has this advice: “Find your ‘why’. When your purpose is crystal clear, you’ll be unstoppable in life.”
If you’re interested in transforming your passion and compassion into a lifelong career in nursing, find out more about SIT’s BSN-MSN programme here.