More nurses seize the chance to upgrade themselves

Steady efforts made to enhance profession, says Amy Khor at nursing award ceremony

More nurses are taking the path to upgrade themselves after measures to retain nurses and attract new faces were introduced last year.

This year, nearly 180 enrolled nurses - the lowest tier - signed up for bridging courses at Ngee Ann and Nanyang polytechnics, which will set them on the path to becoming registered nurses. This is a four-fold increase from last year, following changes in eligibility criteria for these courses.

Thirty-three students have enrolled in the nursing master's programme at the National University of Singapore this year, up from an average of 25 in the past three years.

"Nursing has come a long way," said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor at the Nurses'

Merit Award ceremony at Orchard Hotel yesterday evening.

"The role of nurses will not diminish, but only grow in importance... We are making steady efforts to enhance nursing as a profession, and we will continue to invest in our nurses and support them to be at the forefront of healthcare tomorrow."

During last year's ceremony, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had announced higher pay, broader job scope and better career progression for public-sector nurses, formalising recommendations made by the National Nursing Taskforce.

Yesterday, Dr Khor gave an update on these changes, including efforts to help nurses better balance work and personal commitments. Since the start of this year, she said, the ministry has been working with nursing and human resource representatives in four public hospitals to pilot flexible work arrangements in selected wards.

"As much as they are caregivers to their patients, they are also mothers or fathers, wives or husbands, as well as daughters or sons," she said.

Some 100 nurses were honoured at yesterday's award ceremony - the largest number since the awards started in 1976.

One, Ms Norlaila Kamarudin, 41, an assistant nurse clinician at the National Skin Centre, was honoured for outstanding work.

She started out as a nurse 22 years ago, and has not looked back. "I like meeting people. I have a soft spot for children and the elderly, so that's why I stayed on," she said. "I was born to be a nurse."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'More nurses seize the chance to upgrade themselves'. Print Edition | Subscribe