Nursing: Dr Tracy Carol Ayre

Dr Tracy Carol Ayre is the Chief Nurse at Singapore General Hospital. She completed her PhD in nursing at the University of Melbourne in 2009 and spoke to us about her experience at Melbourne.

“I first decided to become a nurse when my grandmother died when I was a teenager. I was very close to my grandmother and while watching how the healthcare team worked, I knew I wanted to make a difference to people’s lives as they did.

I chose to apply to the University of Melbourne because it is a renowned institution, and not so far from Singapore. Through contacts, I got to know Professor Sioban, who was then Head of Nursing. She offered me a scholarship and it was an opportunity too good to reject!

My PhD thesis was supervised by Associate Professor Marie Gerdtz. In it I focused on nurse staffing and its impact on patients, fellow nurses and organisational outcomes. In my current role as a Chief Nurse at Singapore General Hospital, I spend a huge proportion of my time strategizing on nurse staffing challenges. Talent retention and development are especially important in today’s context where our nurses have to step up and practice at the top of their competencies to meet evolving healthcare needs. We also have many new systems and processes to meet population needs, so recruitment and retention are even more important.

The highlight of my time at Melbourne was the new experience of studying and living in another country. Despite the intensity of my PhD program and preparing my thesis, I never failed to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells (food!) of Melbourne. Spending time with my fellow PhD students also enriched the experience. 

One thing I didn’t expect to learn at university was the vast diversity of experiences that everyone brings to the table. The University of Melbourne is so cosmopolitan with so many cultures (just like Singapore). It is a huge melting pot of ideas, experiences, and life lessons that one may not be able to get from other universities.

My advice to other students planning to come to Melbourne would be to do your research on the place you will be studying at, staying at, and the neighbourhood. Study hard, but play hard as well. Be open to new ideas and experiences and enjoy the diversity!

Nursing in Singapore is moving at such a fast pace to respond to evolving models of care and changing population healthcare needs. I think that in the future of my profession nurses will be expected to take on even more enhanced and expanded roles. Already, our nurses have taken on roles traditionally done by the doctors, and this requirement for a repertoire of skills will increase even more. More nurses will be branching out to community nursing to care for our patients beyond the hospital walls. My aspiration for the future nurse is to be highly competent, functioning at the top of their skills and training, an equal player at the policy table, supported by automation so that they can focus on higher order skills and care activities, yet honing / maintaining their soft skills of compassion and humanity for the patients they serve.”