International Nurses Day shines light on tragedy that led soldier into nursing

Mackay Nurse Copy

A passion to save lives has led Ben Wong all the way from Singapore’s military ranks to a respected role amongst Mackay’s aged-care nursing elite.

As thousands of nurses across North Queensland celebrated International Nurses Day this week, Ben, 33, was on duty as a registered nurse at Ozcare in a job he never imagined taking on.

“The decision to get into a medical career was sparked when a close friend lost his life in a military exercise at the age of 21,” Mr Wong said.

“It is difficult to reflect on now but at the time I felt if I had some medical training that the outcome would have been different. We were both undertaking our mandatory military training which is part of being a citizen in Singapore. I really felt like I grew up a lot after that. I moved to Australia and at first, I wanted to study medicine, so I started a biomedical science degree. But that didn’t work out and I moved into nursing.”

After completing his nursing studies at QUT in Brisbane, Mr Wong decided to take on a role in the aged-care sector, moving to a regional area for the first time in his life.

“I was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Singapore and have lived in Melbourne and Brisbane, all big cities, so coming to Mackay was a big change,” he said.  “Working in aged care was not my priority, but I’ve found it to be very rewarding. It allows me to see the needs of others more than myself.”

Mr Wong joined Ozcare’s St Elizabeth Villa during one of the most challenging periods in the aged-care sector.  With the COVID pandemic impacting staff levels and health and wellbeing, he has shone as a much-loved member of staff at the new facility in West Mackay.

Ozcare Facility Manager Anne Crowley said witnessing the growth in confidence of the second year Registered Nurse she hired last year was gratifying.

“Everyone is learning from Ben and the way he throws himself into the job. He is well liked amongst staff and residents,” Mrs Crowley said.  “It is personally very rewarding to see his transition. I have no doubt he will be a leader of the future. Coming to Ozcare St Elizabeth Villa in its first year of operation has enabled Ben to provide clinical coverage in challenging times.  We celebrate all nurses today and Ben really embodies what it means to be a nurse.”

International Nurses Day marks the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, who saved the lives of soldiers with her dedication during the Crimean War at the turn of last century.

“Just like Florence Nightingale, nurses have faced challenges during the pandemic,” Mrs Crowley said.  “At Ozcare, we are dedicated to protecting, supporting and investing in nurses like Ben who have gone above and beyond to deliver professional and critical care to our residents.”

Our heartfelt thanks to Ben, and each of our 750 nurses across Queensland, who work tirelessly with compassion and professionalism every day to enhance the health and well-being of our clients.  You are our very own superheroes!