Nursing has evolved through the years to encompass much more than providing bedside care for patients.

Today, nursing is a highly sought-after career as it provides diverse opportunities for further advancement and recognition. Yet it remains a profession that seeks some very specific traits in its people — namely, an extraordinary dedication towards caring for others, hard work and challenges notwithstanding.

The common misconception about this noble profession is that nurses are primarily responsible for cleaning up after patients and completing menial tasks.

This could not be further from the truth. Nurses today play a critical role in ensuring a patient’s well-being and recovery. Indeed, the main responsibility of nurses is to provide holistic and all-round care for patients.

The work of nurses varies daily with each new challenge that comes their way. Their ability to perform a critical analysis of each situation and make decisive judgements directly affects the lives and health of patients.

Diverse opportunities

Today, besides fulfilling nursing duties in the ward, nurses are equipped with skills that enable them to explore diverse career paths. They can now take on managerial, educational and even clinical roles. Such new roles allow nurses to upgrade their nursing skills and develop new capabilities that empower them to handle new responsibilities.

There are various vital capabilities that nurses can deliver these days beyond ward duties. Nurse managers implement clinical and administrative functions in nursing units to maximise optimal patient care. They are also responsible for educating patients, family members and staff on nursing care and clinical procedures.

Nurse clinicians perform physical examinations, plan, implement and evaluate patients’ treatment plans together with the multi-disciplinary care team to facilitate patients’ recovery.

The role of advanced practice nurses (APNs) was introduced in the early 2000s. This is a special group of registered nurses who have Master of Nursing degrees from the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, National University of Singapore. They also need to undergo and fulfil rigorous and specific clinical practice requirements before being registered as APNs.

This role empowers them to make professionally autonomous decisions for which they are accountable. Based on highly developed nursing knowledge and skills, they assess patients with undiagnosed problems, order necessary investigations, make differential diagnoses and develop treatment plans in collaboration with doctors, skills that are not usually exercised by nurses.

Making the switch

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) provides funding to mid-career professionals who are keen to join the health-care industry either as registered or enrolled nurses. Like fresh school leavers, they will need to enrol in the diploma programme leading to nursing registration.

Those who want to join as enrolled nurses will go through the Place-and-Train Programme in the Institute of Technical Education for two years. The WDA and the sponsoring institution will provide course fee support and training allowance throughout the study period.

Upon graduation, nurses will serve either a two- or three-year bond with the sponsoring institution, depending on the programmes sponsored.

Singapore’s well-established health-care system comprises a large network of public and private acute hospitals, specialist centres and polyclinics island-wide. This large network works well to cater to varying patient needs at affordable costs.

As Singapore’s population continues to grow and age, the demand for nurses and other health-care professionals is also set to grow exponentially.

Singapore’s motivated and enthusiastic nurses take pride in providing patient-centric health care to their patients, backed by cutting-edge technology and initiatives.

Nursing is an honourable and challenging occupation that requires diligence and commitment. If you are passionate about adding value to lives through the work you do, a career in nursing can be extremely rewarding.