Friday, August 01, 2008

Our Nurses- Singapore's Unsung Heroes

IN SINGAPORE’S quest to be a regional medical hub, we often overlook and underestimate the
contribution of a vital part of the health-care industry – nurses.

As we celebrate Nurses’ Day today, I would like to thank our men and women nurses working in
our hospitals and clinics.

They toil day and night –often missing meals – and frequently have to tolerate abuse from patients and their relatives, as well as (I am ashamed to say this) their doctor colleagues sometimes.

No matter whether you come from an ASEAN country or from afar, we thank you for looking after our loved ones and our countrymen.

All of you , including my mother, who is a retired nurse, are worthy successors of Florence Nightingale- the Lady of the Lamp.

Happy Nurses’ Day!

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: This letter was published in My Paper


aliendoc said...

Hear Hear!

nofearSingapore said...

Dr.Huang: Anonymous 3 Aud 9.43 pm posted the below response to another post ( Voting for the ...). I think it is more appropriate here. I don't necessarily agree with him/her but he/she has right to her opinion. I post it here for discussion.

"Agreed with Anonymous, at 2:42 AM, April 20, 2008.

Just to add, it's not just for the sake of our children, but also for ourselves when one day, we grow old and sick.

Nurses' Day is just over, so I'll share some observations of the current state of nursing in Singapore. Hospitals are flooded with foreign nurses, some are good, but many more chose nursing because it is a means to escape the economic realities of their homeland. Nothing wrong with that except when it affects their professionalism. I've seen examples of non-English-speaking local patients (perhaps then deemed to be unable to raise complaints) being treated with disdain and poor nursing skills by these foreign nurses. Sometimes these nurses even vent their frustrations over their lack of promotion/training, lower than 1st world pay, etc on the patients.

In all honesty, part of the reason for me becoming a nurse is also to move out of Singapore's economic & political reality. Being the minority Singapore citizen nurse amongst the foreign nurses, you cannot always stand up against poor service/abuses because the senior nurse that you report to may actually be the abusive nurse's fellow countrymen and side with their countrymen. In addition, I have seen these foreign nurses ganging up against anyone who is deemed to be "spoiling their market". So lan, lan, zip up, help local patients where possible behind the foreigners' backs while waiting for my ticket out of Singapore Inc.

Maybe it's not just the foreign nurses personal attitude problem. Maybe the way Singapore labour force is treated contributes to the issue. Otherwise, why would these foreigners not live up to their countries' reputation of gentleness and excellent customer service when they work in Singapore? "
end quote

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dr Huang.

Just to clarify, I use the word "may" above, but I have seen a foreign senior nurse siding with a foreign staff nurse who is her fellow countrymen, even when the staff nurse's nursing skills are obviously not up-to-par. In fact, this senior nurse went further to help that staff by pushing her responsibilities to other staff down the chain (e.g. ENs, HCAs), claiming that the staff is able to supervise, instead of helping that staff improve her skills. How can a staff whose nursing skill is not up-to-par even supervise others who may be further down the chain but actually have better skills? Unfortunately, the Nursing Officer was not around when such passing-the-buck takes place, and she trusts that foreign senior nurse very much, so no one will speak up on such matters. *shakes head*

Anonymous 3 Aug 9.43 pm

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 943:
In my interaction with nurses and in my committee work at Gleneagles Hospital, I sense that nurses in Singapore have very low morale and self esteem.
This is probably historical.
Management is also not doing enough to lead and show the direction that nursing should go in their institutions.
Of course relationship problem is common in all working situations and I am sure what you cited is applicable to my hospital as well ( I cannot confirm this).
In any workplace, it is easy for one to be seen to be siding with one's own compatriot although it may be be true. My perceptions are coloured by one's own culture and experiences.
Please feedback your feelings to your management and if your hospital treasures nurses contribution, they will serious look into your feedback and if it is true they should make right the wrong ( if any)

nofearSingapore said...


"In any workplace, it is easy for one to be seen to be siding with one's own compatriot although it may NOT be true"

SHIMURE said...

One of my Ex-girl friend is a nurse.

She is very dilligent in her work and she really cares for others. She strives very hard for the welfare of the patients.

And i would say that nurse's job is not very easy. it is not easy to face angry patients, demands of doctors and also console members of the family's.

When i was admitted to the New Changi hospital, the nurses though foreign are good and nice.

Much more recognition should be given to them in my opinion.

For when we are sick and in need, it is they who help us get well.

Anonymous said...

Dr Huang: In my interaction with nurses and in my committee work at Gleneagles Hospital, I sense that nurses in Singapore have very low morale and self esteem.

Just saw the following ST Forum article, reference here for discussion. Perhaps it may explain Dr Huang's observation about the low morale and self esteem of Singapore nurses.

One commentator to the above wrote: What you have experienced is not peculiar to the nursing profession, it happens everywhere. In the teaching profession, in sales in IT, etc. I am often puzzled why it happens. But I can only surmised that the unpleasant person has a low self-esteem issue.

I wonder about the "it happens everywhere" comment. I must have been really lucky have had supportive seniors and not to experience such ragging as an IT rookie years ago. I agree though that in general the unpleasant bullying co-workers are often those with low self-esteem.

Anonymous said...

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