Singapore Requires More Nurses Among Covid-19 Pandemic

Singapore Requires More Nurses Among Covid-19 Pandemic and older People. 

Singapore: Although they make up the most significant professional healthcare workers here, Singapore still doesn’t have enough nurses.

At the end of last year, over 42,000 registered nurses were registered with the Singapore Board of Nursing.

And in 2019, there were around 5,500 nurses who were not in active practice.

Nursing jobs were the most challenging PMET (professional, managerial, executive, and technical) positions to fill, according to the 2020 report of the Ministry of Human Resources on job vacancies. These jobs made up the most significant number of unfilled vacancies for at least six months last year.

Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Chief Nurse Ng Gaik Nai said that there is a demand for more nurses with an aging population, complex disease, and advancement in care management.

She said, “Community-level nurses are also needed to educate residents on how to stay healthy … and ultimately reduce the number of readmission cases.”

She said that with upcoming facilities on the SGH campus, such as a new emergency medicine building and an elective care center, more nurses would be needed to fill the positions.

Nurse retention is also a concern, said Health Services Employees Union President K. Thanaletchimi.

The former deputy nominee said: “Due to long working hours and strong demands from healthcare professionals … many of them leave the profession because they feel mentally exhausted or can no longer cope with work and personal commitments. . “

And with the Philippines recently suspending permits for nurses who want to work abroad, the shortage could worsen. Foreign nurses make up about a third of the nursing workforce in Singapore.

Thomson Medical Director of Nursing Siti Hosier said hiring nurses in the private sector has always been competitive. But the pandemic has made it more challenging as more nurses join vaccination and smear operations.

Private healthcare group IHH Healthcare Singapore says that half of its nursing workforce is made up of foreign nurses.

The health care group’s director of nursing, Ms. Josephine Ong, said: “The pandemic has added further stress to the labor shortage as our nurses were reassigned to help establish quarantine and community care facilities, vaccination and smear operations. “

The group operates four hospitals here, including Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Therefore, they turned over some paperwork and non-clinical tasks to help ease the workload on their nurses.

Similarly, at Farrer Park Hospital, the screening and health declaration processes are managed by other employees so that nurses can focus on caring for patients and performing clinical work.

Since January, IHH Singapore hospitals have hired more healthcare assistants. Furthermore, they will create new patient care associate jobs to support nurses.

Ms. Ong said there are plans to use robotics and artificial intelligence to help nurses with some clinical tasks.

“Working longer shifts is not the solution to cope with the shortage of nurses, as they need adequate rest to do their best for patients,” she emphasized.

When Hari Shoran Silvarajoo, 34, was a flight attendant for Singapore Airlines seven years ago, an older man passed out during a flight to Europe. He didn’t know what to do then, but luckily, there was a medic onboard.

Mr. Hari said: “I had the knowledge based on my basic first aid training at SIA, but I did not have the confidence to attend to the man.”

In 2019 and last year, about 4,400 students enrolled in nursing courses at various institutes of higher learning, said the Ministry of Education.

However, Covid-19 has helped raise nurses’ profiles by highlighting their work as front-liners and healthcare heroes.

It has translated to a rise in interest in the profession.

WSG said about a 70 percent increase in placements for the nursing professional conversion programs last year, compared with the 2019 numbers. And this year, there was nearly a 50 percent rise in applications for the programs compared to the previous year.

Professor Emily Ang, head of the National University of Singapore’s Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, said the school received more than 1,100 applications for its undergraduate nursing program this year, up from more than 800 applications last year.

She said: “Among the applicants, there are many who chose nursing over medicine and more prestigious courses, even though their results qualify for those programs.”

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