Permanent Secretary Mrs Tan Ching Yee,
Director of Medical Services, Prof K Satku,
Chief Nursing Officer , Dr Pauline Tan,
Nurses, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
1. It is my honour to join you this afternoon in recognising and celebrating the achievements of the Nurses’ Merit Award 2012 winners.
2. Every Nurses’ Day, we remember and commemorate the beginning of nursing in Singapore – when in 1885, a group of nuns from a local French Convent arrived in Singapore to care for the sick at the then General Hospital at Sepoy Lines.
3. Nursing has come a long way since. Not only has the nursing population experienced tremendous growth, nursing capabilities and scope of practice have expanded to keep up with the increasing needs of the population.
4. There are now more than 31,000 nurses and midwives in Singapore. You make up more than half of the healthcare professional workforce in Singapore and you are the ones who spend the most time with patients, you are indeed the face of healthcare in Singapore.
5. Despite the challenges that come with an aging population and the increase in chronic diseases, I am reassured to know that you continue to tackle them professionally and with the true spirit of excellence. You are constantly stretching your horizon and seeking new ways to meaningfully contribute to our healthcare and social fabric. You play a critical role in our efforts to improve healthcare quality, and to keep it accessible and affordable.
6. Most nurses have described their decision to join nursing as a calling. It is our hope that in addition to being a calling, nursing is a choice. With feedback from the nursing community, the Ministry of Health is looking at how the nursing career can be rebranded and marketed. We must show that nursing is not only a noble profession, it is also an exciting and fulfilling one which calls to those who have a heart for people, a head to make critical judgements and decisions, and the strength and foresight to make a difference.
7. But in addition to branding efforts, the best testimony for the profession is you, the NURSE. As you continue to demonstrate your passion and pride in caring for others, you must also uphold the ethos and standards of your profession. The impact you create on your patients and their families must be seen and felt, and this speaks volumes.
8. In terms of educational qualifications, nursing has also come on par with other careers. There are now Degree, Masters and PhD courses in Nursing available locally at the NUS Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies. We have 78 Advanced Practice Nurses currently registered and this number will continue to increase. In working collaboratively with doctors and the rest of the healthcare team, APNs help to improve outcomes for patients such as reducing the length of their stay, readmissions and the cost of care.
9. MOH is reviewing the development process of APNs. As a first step, it will introduce formative assessment to the internship programme to strengthen the APN learning process. We hope to encourage more nurses to take the clinical route to develop as APNs so that you can add greater value to nursing.
10. Nurses and nursing have a lot to be proud of.
11. The Merit Award is one of the ways we recognise our nurses. The award is presented every year to honour nurses who have made exceptional contributions to healthcare and for their dedication to the profession. I am pleased to personally acknowledge your contributions today, by presenting the Nurses’ Merit Award medals to this year’s 73 recipients. On behalf of the Ministry, I thank you for your dedication to nursing. Your commitment to care, teach, mentor and precept make you exemplars and role models to the many who will follow after you. This is a great responsibility as your influence will have an impact on the future of nursing in Singapore.
12. Traditionally, the Nurses’ Merit Award has been presented in conjunction with the MOH’s Nurses’ Day Dinner and Dance. This year, for the first time, the award ceremony is organised solely for the Merit Award recipients. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the organising committee who have spent months looking into the details and planning of this event. I was told that the committee specifically decided to have a sit down tea session since nurses already spend so much time on their feet every day.
13. So today is your day. I hope that you will enjoy the reception with your family, colleagues and old friends after the ceremony.
14. Congratulations and keep up the good work! Your loved ones and patients are depending on you.