Life may not be better for nurses if they become doctors

Top performing and interested nurses overseas have been crossing over and training to become doctors for some time (Consider a bridging course for nurses to become doctors, by Mr Lim Chee Khiam; June 19).

Experienced nurses are far more useful in the wards than greenhorn intern housemen.

They have deeper patient empathy, are familiar with medical jargon and interventional procedures, and have hands-on experience in doing the nitty-gritty and dirty jobs.

Doctors who were once nurses would have a far more sympathetic, passionate and less detached perspective of the wards under their charge.

The discrete roles played by doctors and nurses are already slowly blurring.

Given more authority, competent and accredited nursing practitioners can prescribe medication and treat patients on their own.

Anecdotally, we may already be suffering from a glut of doctors, especially in senior positions.

It is not unheard of for postgraduate doctors to be unable to land a consultancy position, leading to some disillusionment.

Do nurses really want to go through the grind and arduous training of medical school just to be restricted to the ranks of junior doctors when they graduate?

Unlike doctors, nurses are always in demand universally.

Nurses wanting to take the leap to being doctors for better self-fulfilment, so that they have final authority over patients' treatment, may be better advised to further themselves by embarking on a masters or doctorate in nursing instead.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Life may not be better for nurses if they become doctors'. Print Edition | Subscribe