Forum: Make nursing a national service vocation

A nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Feb 28, 2020.
A nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Feb 28, 2020.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in many systems around the world, and the best way to manage this knowledge is not to cast blame on past actions, but to enhance our resilience as we move forward to be better prepared for the next system shock.

Total Defence has been the cornerstone of our nation, and it has served us well, especially as we journey through the current pandemic.

I was recently admitted to the Singapore General Hospital. I am very thankful to the team of healthcare workers at my ward - staff and volunteers - who attended to me, with special mention to a group of nursing interns from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) who tended to me with care and professionalism.

I applaud ITE College East staff for churning out such good role models for our youth. I also met a nursing graduate from ITE who had so much energy and drive to do the right thing for the patients under his care.

There seemed to be many young men in this cohort of interns, which made me question why nursing is not an option for national service.

Give full-time national servicemen the option to choose nursing as their vocation during their basic military training, especially if they see it as a future profession. As operationally ready national servicemen, they can provide medical support for the Singapore Armed Forces or the Home Team.

Nursing is a key pillar of Total Defence in the light of pandemics and other healthcare shocks in the future.

Sanjay C. Kuttan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2020, with the headline 'Make nursing a national service vocation'. Print Edition | Subscribe