Singapore — Posting a link to a Today article about more young people studying to be geriatric and community nurses, former Straits Times journalist turned journalism professor Bertha Henson wrote in a Facebook post that recently, when her mother was hospitalised, all the nurses who had attended to her were foreigners.
Prof Henson wondered where the local nurses, such as those mentioned in the article, are.
She wrote: “When my mom was warded in Mount E recently, every single nurse, including physio and people doing radiology stuff, she interacted with was a foreigner — Chinese, Filipina, Myanmarese, Malaysian. They gave excellent service but I thought we were raising numbers of locals trained? Not being xenophobic but just curious.”
The Today article, published on Monday (Feb 1), is part of its Where The Jobs Are series, which focuses on “sectors that may be overlooked but are offering interesting opportunities”.
The article claimed that the fields of geriatric and community nursing are attracting more young healthcare professionals as more Singaporeans are ageing.
More nurses are reportedly choosing community and geriatric care, “driven by their passion for helping seniors”.
The director of nursing for the Singapore operations division at private healthcare group Parkway Pantai, which oversees Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Ms Josephine Ong, is quoted in the article as saying: “Ten years ago, most of our nurses were not as keen to specialise in geriatric nursing. However, in recent years, we are pleased to observe that the interest is growing.”
In the last five years, around 5-10 per cent of Parkway Pantai’s nurses who have pursued advanced studies have focused on gerontology.
“It’s an encouraging trend and we certainly support it, so as to build our expertise in geriatric care and to provide the best care for our geriatric… patients,” she added.
Meanwhile, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) has more than 160 nurses who are trained in gerontology, many of whom are under 35 themselves. TTSH also has 41 community health nurses.
The article added that, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) job situation report last December, the median monthly salary of enrolled nurses and registered nurses is S$3,900.
Many people have commented on Prof Henson’s post, with a number pointing out that in their experience, there are many local nurses and other staff, especially in Government hospitals.
Some chimed in, saying that it made them “sad” not to see local nurses.
Others suggested that nurses be paid higher wages, as they are in other countries.
One person who commented on the post, Ms Fiona Rae, who is in the healthcare industry, wrote that there is an effort to raise the number of personnel, especially in local institutions such as the Singapore Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore.
She adds that, because it takes at least four to five years to train a nurse, growing the local healthcare pool will take time.
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