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Public needs to be educated on role of nurses

It probably saddened many to read the Oct 22 report (Hired as a nurse, treated as a maid).

Many healthcare professionals choose to enter the profession out of a desire to help people.

We do not mind lending a hand even when we are asked to perform non-medical tasks. But by doing so, some of the patients and their families we help may misunderstand and take the healthcare professionals for granted.

In order to avoid possible abuse, it is important for the healthcare profession to be united and declare what constitute its core services.

This should start from the schools. For instance, students can be taught the correct roles of nurses.

In nursing schools, healthcare students must also be taught to behave professionally, be encouraged to uphold the core services and reject non-core ones politely.

In the hospitals, nursing administrators should re-examine the nursing job scope and leave non-nursing services to non-nursing staff.

Patients and their relatives should be reminded frequently of this, and any verified abuses must be tackled.

We should remove such a servant culture from the wards and society.

In the community, home care nurses should also be similarly empowered to reject non-nursing requests.

However, should they want to accede to these requests, it should be made known that they are doing it outside their professional obligations.

Once they can do that, the patients and their families will not impose their unrealistic expectations on them.

Each healthcare professional has a specific role and should perform it well. But we should not be pressured to do non-core services in the name of "doing good".

We should let the many volunteers from the voluntary welfare organisations carry out their significant role in helping such causes.

Leong Choon Kit (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline 'Public needs to be educated on role of nurses'. Print Edition | Subscribe