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Jocelyn Chew, PhD in Nursing
How Being in a Hospital Brought Her the Unimagined Career

Jocelyn entered an unconventional study path to realise her trailblazing ambition.

The earth had no roads to begin with, but when many pass one way, a road is made. A straight road is good to walk on, but treasures may hide along the curvy ones. Han Shi Jocelyn Chew (20/Graduate School/PhD in Nursing) from Singapore had an aspiration to enrol in medicine or business degrees in high school. She was hospitalized amid the anxiety before a university entry exam, which inspired her to switch her degree path to nursing. After her undergraduate studies, she entered her PhD and research career at CUHK. Here, her horizons and network bloomed, realising her trailblazing ambition.

In Singapore, nurses and doctors have diametrically opposite social statuses, where the former is commonly framed as a caretaking and household cleaning job. Jocelyn's life changed right before a university entry exam, “I had stomach flu the night before my exam. I was in a lot of pain,” she recalled. “My father put me into the hospital at 3 a.m., but my exam starts at 8 a.m. I was petrified, begging for drugs that could stop the pain quickly. Later, a nurse came in and comforted me like a fairy godmother. She told me that the exam was merely a small chapter in life, and I should put my health before anything else,” said Jocelyn. “That night, I was feeling especially vulnerable, but I was touched when I saw the nurses' ceaseless efforts to help patients recover, so I changed my decision to choose a nursing programme instead of medicine or business,” Jocelyn explained. When Jocelyn diverged into nursing, her parents respected her choice, but she did not have much support from her friends. She felt lonely, but she did not come round.

In 2019, Jocelyn (second from the right) and her peers travelled to Singapore to participate in the International Council of Nurses Congress.

Inspired by NUS Professor, Enrolled at CUHK Graduate School
Without her friends' support, Jocelyn took the first step towards her new aspiration at The National University of Singapore's (NUS) undergraduate programme. Jocelyn said, “nursing is not as simple as one might think. To be an outstanding nurse, you have to demonstrate sympathy, empathy and critical thinking etc. At the same time, you need to be equipped with skills in analysing lab reports, radiology reports and performing physical assessments.” In the fourth year of her undergraduate studies, as her peers were looking for clinical positions, she met Professor Violeta Lopez and decided to bring her ambition to new heights. She wanted to explore innovative solutions to complicated health issues through research, which motivated her to study for postgraduate school.

Professor Violeta Lopez was once appointed at CUHK's Nethersole School of Nursing. She recommended CUHK's PhD programme for its unconventional structure. Coincidentally, Jocelyn has a special attachment with Hong Kong, because Jocelyn's mother was born in Hong Kong, and the family would visit occasionally.

Jocelyn (third from the right) got to know some of the international students from various countries at CUHK, staying in touch after graduation.

Professor Chair Sek Ying, a Role Model in Academia and Life
Jocelyn entered the four-year PhD in Nursing programme to finish it in three years and a half. “I see my doctoral studies as a valuable experience of growth. My community fell away from me once again when I chose this overseas PhD programme. It was a difficult and lonely time at first, and I was afraid to contact my friends and family in Singapore because they might worry about me,” said Jocelyn. She added, “I was fortunate to get to know some of the international students from various countries. Soon enough we were like family – sharing meals and weekends together, and we stay in touch after we graduated.” When Jocelyn talked about her appreciation for CUHK, she said, “CUHK has a gorgeous campus. The scenes of flora and fauna on the hills are different across the seasons. In Singapore, the climate is warm all year round. While in Hong Kong, I had my first experience of seasonal changes and my first time using a heater. CUHK's college culture and the student's sense of belonging has given me an indelible impression, not to mention the wide range of student activities around the campus.” "The most unforgettable event in Hong Kong was going to the annual Book Fair alone. I met my Singaporean husband there, and we now have a beautiful daughter,” said Jocelyn.

On the note of Jocelyn's favourite memories, the most memorable person she met at CUHK is her PhD thesis supervisor – Professor Chair Sek Ying. “I had a lot to learn from her unwavering work ethic and extensive knowledge. She has become a good friend and my role model,” said Jocelyn, gratefully. “She wouldn't answer my questions directly. Instead, she leads me to think critically. Conversating with her would always inspire some novel ideas, academically or for life in general. Whenever challenge lies ahead of me, I would think about her motivating words, which would fill my heart with warmth and content,” she added.

Prof Chair Sek Ying (left) and Prof Violeta Lopez (second from the left) are Jocelyn's mentors.

Deploying AI in Research to Reduce Pressure on Health Systems
After graduation, Jocelyn went back to NUS as a Research Fellow. Her latest project is related to the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, particularly in enhancing weight management. “Obesity is a leading risk factor for chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illnesses. I hope to use AI in my research to help with efficient resource distribution to curb the prevalence of obesity and improve public health,” said Jocelyn. “I support more AI deployment in the health systems, such as using AI for clerical and routine tasks which would otherwise require a huge overhead of manpower to execute. This would allow nurses to focus on providing personalised care and reinvigorating life into patients.”

Jocelyn (right) was the host for The First Cochrane Hong Kong Symposium, organised by The Nethersole School of Nursing at CUHK's Faculty of Medicine.

Published on "CU Alumni Magazine" Issue 109 by Alumni Affairs Office 2022

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