Dear ASS Editors,

I have been observing the healthcare industry for many years and had worked in the industry for a long time. There is a perennial shortage of Singaporean nurses in our hospitals. The short fall is conveniently compensated by the recruitment of foreign trained nurses, who have huge problems communicating with the elderly patients in the hospitals.

The question comes to mind as to why the healthcare institutions in Singapore are unable to attract locals to join the industry as nurses. I have heard many reasons and feedbacks as to the causes for the low Singaporean interest in the nursing job. I have summarise the following as the main reasons for the lack of interest of Singaporeans in joining the nursing profession as well as the high drop out rate of nurses leaving the profession.

1) Low status, recognition and understanding of the actual work the nurses do and perform in the hospitals on a daily basis

2) Poor compensation package as compared to the other allied healthcare professionals and also as compared to the medical doctor’s compensation package

3) The poor treatment received from doctors who treat the nurses as nothing more than as inferior ‘glorified domestic maids’

4) The lack of job satisfaction because of the low level of nursing function that they are allowed to perform on a daily basis as compared to nurses of equivalent ranking and experience in other countries

5) Extremely long working hours that make ‘work life balance’ almost a theoretical and laughable concept

6) Poor leadership skills of the senior nursing staff in the hospitals. Many are put into leadership positions simply because of the seniority they have accrued over the years working as a nurse. That by itself does not make one a good leader! In fact many have a complete lack of leadership skill set. This in turn leads to frustration of the nursing staff who are working under them.

The combination of the above 6 factors resulted in a potent pot that discourage many from joining the profession and also pushes many who are already working as nurses to seek employment in other industries, throwing away years of valuable experience gained. This is something that Singapore as a whole can ill afford to lose.

This situation will continue unless the Ministry Of Health begins to see it as a problem and deal with it with decisive actions and policies to address the issues and not resort to cheap and fast short term solutions of mass importation of nurses from the Philippines, China and India.

Healthcare Observer
A.S.S. Contributor

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