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Three HKMU alumni return to serve alma mater

Having graduated from different faculties and programmes in different years, the three HKMUers, Jamie Lee Tsz-ching, Queenie Kwan Ching-man and Elvin Lau Yu-kit, have coincidentally returned to Hong Kong Metropolitan University (HKMU) for service. Despite staying in a familiar environment during their education and employment, the three graduates have never been bound by the comfort zone. With firm determination and acute awareness, they are able to forge ahead a new path towards success. Rooted in a solid soil for careers, the three HKMUers are able to fulfil their dream of education and the service spirit for our society. Let’s dive into their stories.

Queenie Kwan Ching-man: Teaching and caring in the wards

Following her early involvement in emergency volunteer work as a teenager, Queenie decided to become an enrolled nurse as an early opportunity to contribute to the frontline of nursing care. After completing her Bachelor of Nursing degree as a part-time student, she was inspired to teach: “Passing on skills is the key, especially when it comes to frontline experience and practical skills, which are best taught through mentorship”. Her dream came true when she returned to her alma mater for teaching in 2018, who now teaches as a senior lecturer.

Driving students' growth in small steps

HKMU nursing programme enjoys a stellar reputation in the industry. As she explained, “The nursing staff we train are quite 'down-to-earth'”. While the programme builds a solid conceptual foundation, it also involves long practice hours, giving students more opportunities for practical training. “I place great emphasis on practical skills, including small details such as dialogue with patients, eye contact and body language”, she said. The smallest gestures, such as greeting the patient before care, can facilitate a smoother care process. She explained, “I firmly believe that it takes small steps to achieve great successes. The younger generation tends to be less attuned to the ways of the world, so I want them to recognise that nursing is a people-oriented job”. She admired the rapid growth of her students, who have transformed in no time.

Students in their first year of clinical practicum are guided by teachers. On the day of the interview, Queenie just returned from the clinical mentoring from hospital. Taking a step from learning to teaching, she believes that the ward experience is a powerful catalyst for the students' growth. Reflecting on her first duty in the ward, where she had to deal with the remains of a young cancer patient, she said, “It was a very profound experience. I learnt to treasure every moment in life and do my best in everything I do”.

The school’s nursing programme is divided into general health care and mental health to cater for patients of different specialties, which she likened to “mental health as a 'battle of wits' and general health care as a 'battle of strengths'”. The former focuses on dialogue with patients at the psychological level, while the latter involves a large number of nursing procedures at the physiological level, each with their own specialties that may challenge the students. At present, the School has put in place a mechanism requiring a teacher to oversee the physical and psychological development of about 30 students, and assess whether they have any learning difficulties or emotional disturbances.

Emotional difficulties of young people are of great concern to society. Earlier on, she led her students to nurse a young patient who was in a trance and had overdosed on psychotropic drugs due to the pressure of exams. She felt deeply for many young people under great pressure, “They may have voiced out for help at an early stage, but their family members ignored them and their condition deteriorated. Therefore, it is important for both the person concerned and their family members to recognise and face up to their mental problems”. Primary health care therefore serves a useful purpose in this regard.

Care beyond wards

Queenie has always shown an interest in primary healthcare issues. During her studies at HKMU, she enrolled a course on community health promotion and continued to conduct research in this area, focusing on “advance care planning” which analyses how the elderly can explain clearly to their family members about their end-of-life care, including the choice of terminal care. “This is an issue that came out of my experience in the wards. I have seen many elders who do not want to be forced to prolong their lives, but suffer tremendously from the opposition of their family members”, said Queenie. She considers life and death education an integral part of primary healthcare education, which needs to be promoted in the community.

Returning to the school for teaching, Queenie recalled taking publicity photographs for the new building of HKMU Jockey Club Institute of Healthcare and printing them on the hoardings during the construction. Now working here, Queenie laughed and said, “I find it very special! Meeting the current students is like seeing myself back in the day. I have a lot of experience to share, bringing a sense of bonding between teachers and students”.

Her commitment to nursing knows no boundaries, as demonstrated by her continuous participation in the Red Cross psychological support team and her dedication to helping minorities in the community. She sincerely shared, “I hope to make a difference in the course of my life, to share what I have with others, and to inspire others to follow my footsteps.” Practising the spirit of selfless caring is a true lesson in nursing by example.