WHY NURSING?

MANY PATHS, ONE CAREER

Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about the nursing career. Can't find the answer to your question?
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1. IS NURSING EXCITING? WHAT DO NURSES REALLY DO?

  • Of course it is! Nursing is an exciting career that offers many opportunities to contribute and progress.
  • Every day is a new experience and brings new learning. You will encounter different patient conditions. The care you provide makes a difference in the lives of patients and their families. You will also interact with many members of the healthcare family such as doctors, medical social workers, pharmacists, administrators, and many others in the course of your work.
  • Nursing has a wide reach and sphere of influence. The International Council of Nurses describes nursing as follows:
    "Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people. Advocacy, promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in patient and health systems management, and education are also key nursing roles."
  • What's more, there are many specialisations in nursing that you can choose to work in (see list below). Whether it's in Paediatrics or Accident & Emergency, there's something for everyone. You decide what you want to do, based on your interest, passion and aptitude.
  • You can choose to develop your nursing skills in nursing specialties such as:
    • Community Health
    • Gerontology
    • Critical Care
    • Orthopaedics
    • Perioperative

2. I’VE FINISHED MY ‘N’ / ‘O’ / ‘A’ LEVELS. WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS IF I WANT A CAREER IN NURSING?

  • You have a range of education options from basic certification to post-graduate studies when you choose nursing as a career:

  • You must enrol or register with the Singapore Nursing Board (SNB) to practise as a nurse in Singapore.
     
  • Enrolled Nurses
    With your NITEC certificate in nursing, you will start as an Enrolled Nurse and progress to be a Senior Enrolled Nurse. You can also upgrade yourself professionally by attending the Post-Nitec Courses at  the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East.
     
  • Opportunities to upgrade to RN
    Enrolled Nurses can upgrade to be a Registered Nurse by obtaining a Nursing Diploma from Nanyang Polytechnic or Ngee Ann Polytechnic. If you have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 and above, you can enrol directly into the nursing diploma course. If your GPA is below 3.0 and you have relevant years of work experience and a testimonial from your employer, you can attend a part-time bridging course offered by the polytechnics. Upon passing the bridging course, you are eligible to enrol in the nursing diploma course to upgrade and become an RN.

3. WHAT KIND OF TRAINING DO I NEED TO BE CERTIFIED AS A NURSE? IS THE TRAINING TOUGH?

  • During your nursing studies, beyond classroom learning, you will be attached to various hospitals and healthcare institutions. This is where you take care of real patients and learn more about the healthcare system. There are also simulation laboratories (which resemble actual clinical wards) where you can develop your clinical expertise and confidence. The training is challenging and immensely rewarding at the same time.

4. WHAT ARE THE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN NURSING?

  • As a Registered Nurse, you enter the profession as Staff Nurse and can choose to advance your clinical skills and become a Nurse Clinician or Advanced Practice Nurse. You can also develop your career in Nursing Education if you have an interest in teaching and mentoring, or in Nursing Management if you aspire to lead change in the healthcare system.

CAREER DEVELOPMENT ROADMAP (REGISTERED NURSE)

5. ARE THERE SCHOLARSHIPS / SPONSORSHIPS FOR NURSING COURSES? HOW DO I APPLY FOR THEM?

Yes, the public sector offers scholarships and sponsorships for aspiring nurses. Find out more about Healthcare Scholarships.

The Healthcare Merit Scholarship (HMS) is awarded to outstanding students with strong leadership abilities. This premier scholarship, offered by the Ministry of Health, gives you the opportunity to study nursing or allied health disciplines in local and overseas universities. You should:

  • Be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident who will take up citizenship before embarking on your studies
  • Achieve outstanding GCE 'A' level results (with at least 10 academic units), a polytechnic diploma with merit or equivalent qualifications, e.g. International Baccalaureate (IB) or high school diploma
  • Have a passion for the public healthcare sector
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and excellent communication skills
  • Possess a good Co-Curricular Activities record

The Healthcare Merit Award (HMA) is awarded to students with excellent academic track records to pursue degree programmes in nursing or allied health disciplines in local and overseas universities. You should:

  • Be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident who will take up citizenship before embarking on your studies
  • Possess good GCE 'A' level results (at least 10 academic units), polytechnic diploma with merit or equivalent qualifications, e.g. International Baccalaureate (IB) or high school diploma
  • Have a passion for the public healthcare sector and strong communication skills
  • Have a good Co-Curricular Activities record

The public healthcare clusters also offer sponsorships to students to study nursing at the NITEC level at ITE (to become Enrolled Nurses) and at the diploma and degree level at the polytechnics and universities respectively*. The sponsorships provide students with monthly allowances throughout their nursing studies and graduates will be able to serve in the public healthcare clusters upon their graduation from the programmes.

Alexandra Health System (AHS)Eastern Health Alliance (EHA)Jurong Health Services (JHS)National Healthcare Group (NHG)National University Health System (NUHS), and  Singapore Health Services (Singhealth)

6. I’M CONSIDERING A CAREER CHANGE AND I’M KEEN ON NURSING. HOW DO I MAKE THE SWITCH?

  • The Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) provides nursing training to prepare you to become a qualified nurse. WDA and a co-sponsoring institution will provide funding if you obtain a place in the PCP. For more information on making a mid-career switch to nursing, click here.

7. WHERE CAN I WORK?

  • As a nurse, you can work in diverse healthcare institutions such as acute hospitals, community hospitals, polyclinics, home care and long term residential care facilities. In the public sector, there are six healthcare clusters that manage a variety of healthcare services.

  • Nurses can also work in Community Care The Agency for Integrated Care works with Community Care providers to coordinate efforts in care integration so that patients can access appropriate care in the healthcare system. Find out more here.

8. WHAT IS THE STARTING SALARY OF A NURSE?

  • In the public healthcare sector, the annual starting salary (including bonuses and allowances) for an Enrolled Nurse is around $27,300. For a Registered Nurse (RN), the annual starting salary (including bonuses and allowances) is around $36,000 for an RN with diploma qualifications, and around $51,900 for an RN with degree qualifications.

9. WHAT ARE THEIR WORK HOURS? ARE NURSES ABLE TO MAINTAIN A GOOD WORK-LIFE HARMONY?

  • Yes, generally, most nurses are able to maintain good work-life harmony.
  • Patients in hospitals require 24-hour monitoring and observation. Nurses attend to the sick and ill and watch over them round the clock. To provide this continuous service, nurses work in 2-3 rotating shifts for which they enjoy shift allowances. There are a number of variations so that nurses can enjoy maximal work-life harmony. The typical shifts are 7am – 3.30pm, 1pm – 10pm, and 9pm – 7.30am. This allows them to enjoy more days off. Nurses in the public healthcare institutions typically work 39-42 hours per week depending on their shift arrangements. Their working hours are comparable to other non-shift staff in the healthcare sector.
  • While nursing is a vocation that calls for shift duties, many nurses who work shifts can testify to the advantages of such flexible working arrangements. For example, they can enjoy having the entire East Coast Park to themselves and a few others, or shopping malls without the crowds, or social activities outside of weekend peaks. They can also spend more time with their children, or have more time for professional development or upgrading studies.
  • Nurses in public healthcare institutions enjoy up to 28 days of vacation leave, depending on their years in service, in addition to other leave such as family care leave, marriage leave and compassionate leave.

10. ARE THERE MANY MALE NURSES? IS THEIR WORK DIFFERENT FROM FEMALE NURSES?

  • Currently, male nurses form about 10% of the nursing workforce. Although, there are substantially more female nurses than male nurses, the number of males in nursing is increasing. From 2007 to 2013, the number of males in nursing has almost doubled to more than 3,000. The nature of work for male and female nurses is fairly similar. Male nurses enjoy the same opportunities to advance in their career as their female counterparts.

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CHAMPIONS OF CARE

Recipients of the President's Award.

2014

Yong Keng Kwang, Director of Nursing
Tan Tock Seng Hospital

A firm believer in open communications, Keng Kwang works closely with his staff on the frontline. He constantly looks for new methods and technological advancements that can streamline work processes, allowing nurses to focus on patient care. This can be seen from his award-winning initiatives, such as the Ward of the Future (WOF) and the SmartSense System, which uses Radio Frequency Identification to record and monitor patients' vital signs wirelessly without disturbing their rest.

At the national level, Keng Kwang was appointed in 2013 as the Chairperson of the National Nursing Taskforce Workgroup on Redefining the Role of Nurses. He also serves on the National Medical Ethics Committee, and is an active member of the Singapore Nursing Board.

Sim Lai Kiow, Nurse Clinician
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

Lai Kiow is a pioneer of palliative nursing in Singapore and was the first palliative care nurse in the former Alexandra Hospital (now Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, KTPH). She was instrumental in establishing its palliative care service, and trains nurses to recognise signs of dying patients (so that their families can be alerted to keep vigil), and administer drugs to provide symptom relief.

On a national level, Lai Kiow has lectured at many palliative care conferences and is a trainer in Advanced Care Planning (ACP). She is a founding member of the Chapter of Palliative Care Nursing in Singapore and helped the Agency for Integrated Care to harmonise the ACP training.

Karen Koh, Advanced Practice Nurse
National University Hospital

One of the pioneer Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) certified in Singapore, Karen helped shape the APN practice framework in NUH and nationally. Karen uses her expertise to advance nursing, and facilitates many nursing research projects to improve patient care in the ICU. She established an APN-led cardiac rehabilitation clinic, which helps patients in making lifestyle changes. She also started the APN clinical service at the post-acute myocardial infarction clinic, which reduced waiting time for follow-up appointments from three months to one.

In addition to training undergraduate and post-graduate nurses at Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Karen leads and develops programmes to ensure that the nurses at NUH keep abreast with the latest evidence-based nursing knowledge. Karen is a well-regarded leader with 13 APNs/interns and five specialty nurses under her charge.
Karen is currently pursuing a PhD.

Ng Wai May, Advanced Practice Nurse
National Neuroscience Institute

Successfully maintaining remarkable standards in NNI's nursing practice, Wai May mentors junior doctors and nursing students of all levels - teaching them the basics of stroke care.
In addition to initiating the Stroke clinic, she helped significantly in the setting up of the Acute Stroke Unit (ASU) at KTPH. Wai May also conducts public healthcare screening as an HPB-certified Health Ambassador, and is a member of the Tetraplegic Workgroup, which befriends and supports tetraplegics.

Wai May has participated in several hospital and national committees on the care of stroke patients. She was involved in the development of MOH's Clinical Practice Guidelines on the prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Also, she has conducted several nursing research and quality improvement projects, which have been presented at local and international conferences and garnered wide acclaim from attendees. 

2013

Chua Gek Phin, Director, Nursing, National Cancer Centre Singapore

Chia Lay Hoon, Deputy Director of Nursing, National University Hospital

Jasmine Kang Sin Ee, Advanced Practice Nurse (Geriatrics), Tan Tock Seng Hospital

2012

Ms Lian Siew Bee, Assistant Director, Nursing & Advanced Practice Nurse, Singapore General Hospital

Ms Teresa Ng Ruey Pyng, Senior Nurse Clinician, KK Breast Department, KK Women's & Children's Hospital

Ms Poh Chee Lien, Senior Nurse Educator, Nursing Training Department, Institute of Mental Health

2011

Susie Goh Boon Ai, Director of Nursing, St Luke's Hospital

Jamie Lim Chuen, Advanced Practice Nurse, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Chong Lai Ling, Senior Nurse Manager, Singapore General Hospital

2010

Lim Suh Fen, Assistant Director of Nursing, National Heart Centre

Nidu Maran Shanmugam, Advanced Practice Nurse, Singapore General Hospital

Low Mui Lang, Director of Nursing, Peacehaven Nursing Home

2009

Sylvia Lee Ling Ling, Advanced Practice Nurse, Dover Park Hospice

Lee Siu Yin, Director of Nursing, National University Hospital

Lim Siok Hong, Senior Nurse Clinician, KK Women's & Children's Hospital

2008

Yang Chek Bte Salikin, Advanced Practice Nurse, Institute of Mental Health

Chua Gek Choo, Deputy Director of Nursing, Alexandra Hospital

Lee Leng Noey, Assistant Director of Nursing, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

2007

Gwee Pek Hoon, Director of Nursing, SingHealth Polyclinics

Tracy Carol Ayre, Deputy Director of Nursing, Singapore General Hospital

Elaine Ng Kim Choon, Assistant Director of Nursing, Changi General Hospital

2006

Gwee Mui Boon, Course Manager, Institute of Technical Education

Tan Siok Bee, Senior Nurse Clinician, Singapore General Hospital

Pauline Tan, Director of Nursing, Institute of Mental Health

2005

Kwek Puay Ee, Director of Nursing, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Cynthia Pang Pui Chan, Senior Nurse Manager, KK Women's & Children's Hospital

Lina Ma Yee Sheung, Manager (Clinical Administration), Lions Home for the Elders

2004

Edward Poon Wing Hong, Director of Nursing, Dover Park Hospice

Janet Choo Kim Lan, Assistant Director of Nursing, Changi General Hospital

Premarani D/O Kannusamy, Senior Principal Nursing Officer, Ministry of Health

2003

Tan Ah Pang, Senior Nurse Clinician, National Heart Centre Singapore

Pang Nguk Lan, Senior Nurse Manager, KK Women's & Children's Hospital

Chor Swee Suet, Head Nurse, Health Promotion Board

2002

Lee Seok Pang, Senior Nurse Manager, Singapore General Hospital

Lim Swee Hia, Director of Nursing/Group Director, Singapore General Hospital/SingHealth

Emily Ang Neo Kim, Assistant Director of Nursing, National University Hospital

2001

Nagalingam Saraswathi, Senior Nurse Clinician, Singapore General Hospital

Lee Yoke Lan, Director of Nursing, KK Women's & Children's Hospital

2000

Tan Wee King, Nurse Educator, Institute of Technical Education

Chua Siew Hong, Assistant Director of Nursing, Institute of Mental Health

Cher Sok Kew, Senior Nurse Officer, KK Women's & Children's Hospital

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