National University of Singapore Nursing assistant professor wins President’s Award for Nurses

National University of Singapore (NUS)  Nursing assistant professor has won the nation’s highest nursing accolade for championing perinatal health, engaging in parenting research, grooming the next generation of nurses, and participating in the nation’s COVID-19 fight.

nurse academic, Dr Shefaly
nurse academic, Dr Shefaly. Photo by NUS

Dr Shefaly Shorey was 25 when she made a midcareer switch to nursing. The former teacher with a Masters in Biological Science answered a calling to help others after journeying through cervical cancer with her grandmother. She enrolled in the local professional conversion programme while married with a son. After getting her Nursing diploma and while working as a registered nurse, she earned her BSc (Nursing) degree and midwifery specialisation.

She worked as a midwife, clinician and nurse educator for 10 years before deciding to pursue her PhD in 2011. “Seeing moms and dads leave the hospital with many unmet needs, probably as a result of the short hospital stays and early discharge dates, made me realise that more needed to be done to support these new parents at home, post-discharge,” she said.

She also experienced first-hand the impact of nursing research while working as a midwife. “In the tertiary hospital where I worked, the nurses would perform routine nasopharyngeal suctioning of new babies after a normal vaginal birth. After I published a systematic review supporting the stopping of this practice, the procedure was discontinued in the delivery suite based on the findings,” she said.

Dr Shefaly completed her PhD in a record time of two-and-a-half years. She joined NUS Nursing as an academic in 2015 after a brief stint teaching in the polytechnic, and has not looked back since, dedicating her career to developing and evaluating psychosocial educational programmes to support parents in Singapore.

In the short span of an illustrious career, she has received more than S$2 million in competitive research grants to support parenting research in Singapore, Her research is published in over 100 top-tiered peer reviewed journals. It includes a mobile-health app, “Home but Not Alone”, developed to help new parents in Singapore cope with the demands of infant care. Dr Shefaly has also devoted her research to studying paternal depression in local fathers.

“What is rewarding isn’t receiving the awards, but seeing my academic research being translated into practice and policy-making to improve perinatal health and parenting,” she said.

Dr Shefaly has won numerous awards recognising her research, including the Outstanding Woman in Medical Science award, the Hitachi Research Fellowship, the ASEAN-U.S. Science Prize for Women (Honorable Mention) and the Emerging Nurse Scholar award.

Today, she also sits on the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Advisory Panel and collaborates with the Ministry in the development of educational programmes and resources for parents. For her volunteer work in supporting new parents during the pandemic, she was conferred the “Friend of MSF” award.

“What is rewarding isn’t receiving the awards, but seeing my academic research being translated into clinical practice and policy-making to improve perinatal health and parenting,” said Dr Shefaly, whose research findings on newborn caregiving experiences were adopted into a series of “how-to” videos for first-time parents on the Baby Bonus Portal to help new mothers and fathers address parenting needs unique to the local context. 

As a nurse academic, Dr Shefaly also wears the hat of an educator, where she role models, nurtures and inspires bright school-leavers to join the nursing profession as nurses and researchers, thus building the local core in nursing.

“It is incredibly satisfying to see my students joining the maternity units of local hospitals, knowing that I have in one way or another inspired them to choose this specialisation,” she said.

Her efforts in advancing nursing education using evidence-based pedagogies has won her various teaching awards, including the NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award, one of the highest accolades for academic teaching at NUS.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Shefaly also rose to the occasion to support pandemic response. She rolled out a “Train-the-Trainer” programme for registered nurses at the helm of the nation’s vaccination drive to equip them with competencies in vaccine administration – in just two weeks.

Being an academic isn’t a bed of roses, and the challenges come in the form of vying for grants to fund her research projects. This spurs her to keep abreast of the latest developments in her research interests and the needs of her patient populations.

She also actively networks with stakeholders at both the national and international levels to identify fruitful collaborations that can establish new research findings.

“I believe in the maxim, ‘Never Stop Learning’, taking pride in continuously learning from my students and peers, attending seminars, reading, and experimenting with new research and teaching methods,” she said.

Source : NUS 

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