It's safe to say that everyone at some stage of their life will be in the care of a qualified nurse, whether it is to receive a vaccination or life-saving treatment. Just as integral as doctors and surgeons, nurses are a vital part of Singapore's clinical infrastructure. But how much do you really know about the heroes that work tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to make sure that you and your family can access high-quality healthcare?
The role of a nurse
The responsibilities of a nurse are diverse. Day to day, they generally include:
- Caring for patients
- Interacting with families
- Assessing individual patients' physical and mental well-being
- Administering medication or carrying out clinical procedures
In practice, this covers a huge range of tasks specific to the hospital department or healthcare setting in which they work.
Life as an A&E nurse
Nurses in the accident & emergency department (A&E) need to be able to handle extreme stress coming from several areas; firstly, the patient themselves who are suffering from serious and severe illness, secondly from the family members who are concerned about the well-being of their love ones and lastly, from the nature of the work itself. A&E nurses need to know how to prioritise patients based on their different healthcare needs, and to do so quickly while maintaining a high degree of precision and quality in the care that they deliver.
In addition to their regular responsibilities, A&E nurses also have to:
- Adhere to set maximum wait times for patients even when the department is very busy
- Juggle priorities as new patients arrive
- Anticipate unpredictable and constantly changing scenarios
- Coordinate with various members of the allied healthcare team (pharmacy, radiology and laboratory)
- Manage the emotions of patients and families
- Care for patients with very severe injuries and illnesses
Training for the role
If you choose this challenging and yet exciting career, you will need to study extensively in order to cope with the demands required of an A&E nurse. There are several pathways to qualification in Singapore, from a Nitec in nursing to a diploma or a degree. The training will begin once you are qualified, where you can develop skills in areas such as orthopaedics, midwifery or paediatrics. If you wish to work in the A&E, you can choose to specialise in emergency medicine. This will give you the ability to multitask and adapt in an emergency situation, and learn specific life-saving techniques used often in the A&E department.
What to expect
Although nursing might have a reputation for requiring long hours, in reality the standard full-time hours in Singapore total around 38 per week. There is plenty of room for growth, with qualification tiers and branches such as education and management to work towards in your career. In the modern medical environment, technology evolution occurs at a dizzying pace and for many, nursing is a lifelong career that evolves and changes constantly because of it.
No matter how challenging, nursing is still one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. A&E nurses often talk about the fact that every day is different. You can be treating someone who has tripped and fallen at home one minute, before dealing with mass casualties from a vehicular accident the next. Saving lives is something you get to do every single day. Seeing a patient once they have made a full recovery from something as traumatic as a heart attack is incredibly fulfilling, and knowing that they get to return home to their family in good health is the ultimate reward.
Rewards and recognition
To recognise the nursing heroes, Singapore celebrates Nurses' Day on 01 August. A day dedicated to the men and women who spend their days caring for others, it's the perfect time to thank any nurses you know personally (or that you have been treated by) for their dedicated service. It's also a great time to look into your options if you're considering a nursing career.
In addition to Nurses' Day, the Ministry of Health has announced a package of benefits called CARE to help nurses develop and excel in their careers. This incorporates:
- Career Development, with the introduction of new roles and positions
- Autonomy and empowerment, with the expansion of your skills and accountability
- Recognition, with an increased base salary and annual nursing awards
- Education, with the opportunity for scholarships and extended training programmes
Is nursing right for you?
If you care about others and you want a career that will keep you on your toes while being endlessly rewarding, nursing might be perfect for you. Though it comes with challenges, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference in your community. Remember, heroes don't wear capes, they wear nurses' uniforms!