SINGAPORE - Starting this year, enrolled nurses who did well during their Institute of Technical Education (ITE) training can apply for a shorter diploma programme to become registered nurses, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor announced in Parliament on Wednesday (March 6).
The new 2+2 Diploma in Nursing will let nurses graduate in two years instead of the current 2½ years. It will be offered at Nanyang Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic for ITE graduates with a grade point average of at least 3.5.
Dr Khor said nursing intakes have increased by around 30 per cent over the last five years. More than 2,100 students were admitted in 2018, the highest intake to date, up from 1,600 in 2013, she added.
More nurses are also entering the profession mid-career, with 130 individuals participating in the Healthcare Professional Conversion Programmes in 2018, the highest intake in 10 years.
Dr Khor also told Parliament that the Ministry of Health will set up the National Nursing Academy (NNA) to support continued learning for nurses across healthcare institutions, schools and training providers. The academy will operate as a virtual network and will oversee continuing education and training efforts, as well as provide an online platform for nurses to access courses and learning opportunities.
Many healthcare providers have in-house training programmes currently, but these are often not recognised or transferable across different institutions, she noted.
"The NNA will accredit and strengthen the quality of workplace-based training and develop a system to recognise the skills and competencies attained by a nurse at the workplace. This will make the skills portable and stackable to advance nurses' careers and professional practice across healthcare institutions and settings," she said.
The NNA's efforts will benefit all nurses and healthcare providers in the public, private and community sectors, Dr Khor added.
A Skills Framework for Healthcare also being launched by the MOH will document the roles, competencies and training programmes for physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurses, pharmacy technicians and patient service associates.