Speech by Minister of State for Health and Manpower, Dr Amy Khor at the Nurses' Merit Award 2013 Presentation and Lunch, 3 July 2013

Permanent Secretary Health, Mrs Tan Ching Yee,

Chief Nursing Officer, Dr Pauline Tan,

Nurses,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

2.  I am happy to be here today to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the Nurses’ Merit Award 2013 winners.

3.  I want to begin by thanking our nurses across hospitals and the intermediate and long-term care sector, for their hard work especially in the midst of the recent “double whammy” – the dengue outbreak and the persistent haze. It is with their dedication that we have so far been able to rise above these challenges. 

4.  Let me share with you a recent story relating to a retired policeman. Earlier this year, Minister Gan received an email from a Mr Foo who was prompted to write in when he saw the poster calling for nominations for the President’s Award for Nurses. He expressed great admiration and respect for all nurses, whom he had encountered and interacted with in his 30 odd years in the Singapore Police Force.

5.   Mr Foo acknowledged that nurses have played an important role in major crises, but what he wanted to especially recognise were not the heroic deeds and contributions which have been lauded in the newspapers but what he has seen all these years - the routine, mundane yet vital things that nurses do in the course of their work things that require patience, persistence and passion.

6.  Here is an excerpt of his email, for which we have his permission to share with you. I quote, “During the moment of changing of shift, I observed how the nursing officers conduct(ed) their handing/taking over duty with care and professionalism.

Only a handful of nursing officers were deployed to handle 30 or more patients; with all kind(s) of sicknesses....   Not all patients would be quietly asleep at this hour.  There were always a few, sometimes more than a few, who called for attention and service every now and then.  I could observe that the nurses, Malay, Chinese or Indians, dashing from one point to another.  Some Malay, Indian nurses spoke to their patients with a little Hokkien and some Chinese nurses related to them in Malay.   I was impressed with the way they communicated with patients and have also observed how they touched, fed and clean them.  In addition, they were required to handle telephone calls, advising doctors and attend to paper work.

7.   He also described nurses as embodying, I quote, “the most outstanding qualities of Singaporeans, dedication, perseverance and humanity.” 

8.   And he ended off his email with “I have just put down in words what I have wanted to say for many years.  To all Singapore nursing officers, I say THANK YOU.”

9.   I am sure Mr Foo is not alone in feeling this way about nurses.

10.  While the nature and scope of nursing has changed, nurses are still the  critical ‘connectors’ for all patient care interfaces that Mr Foo described, and despite their workload, they remain  the  vital touchpoint for patients.

11.   The role of nurses continues to evolve. Nurses perform  health assessments,  actively support patients and carers in at whichever setting they are in, constantly look for innovative models of care and continually push to  better work processes to raise quality, lower cost and improve access for our society.  Many have also taken on higher education, including PhDs to undertake research to find evidence to support new nursing practices. 

12.    And while you lead the charge to advance nursing, you have one common aim, and that is to improve patient care. In tandem with the advancement of nursing, the Ministry will continue its efforts to ensure that the public sector offers attractive career opportunities with good career pathways and improved work environment for our healthcare professionals.

13.   This time last year, Minister spoke about how the Ministry was looking into rebranding and marketing the nursing career to show that nursing is not only a noble profession, it is also an exciting and challenging one. In March this year, we launched the “Care to Go Beyond” campaign which showcased the different aspects and opportunities in nursing, through advertisements, and a series of on-line videos which highlighted inspiring stories of some of our nurses. This campaign will be a sustained one and we look forward to showcasing more aspects of the nursing profession, so that more will be inspired to choose nursing as their career.

14.   There are other nursing initiatives which the Ministry has embarked on, such as the “Return to Nursing” programme to encourage those who have left nursing to consider returning to the workforce; and the National Nursing Taskforce, which seeks to transform the profession of nursing.

15.    We will continue to work on ensuring that care standards and service are continually enhanced to build strong public confidence in our healthcare system. A hallmark of a good healthcare system is the presence of excellent individuals who keep the system running despite the odds. The Nurses’ Merit Awards recipients are such living examples.

16.   I congratulate each and every one of the Nurses’ Merit Award recipients, and also thank all the others who are here today – supervisors and family members of the award winners, senior management and leaders of the institutions. The award recipients have credited your support and encouragement as important factors in their achieving the award, and motivating them to continue performing their best. In the commemorative booklet, many of you have said that the appreciative smiles and “thank-yous” of your patients and their family members are what kept you going on the job and gave you a great sense of satisfaction.

17.    Each of your institutions has planned its own Nurses’ Day celebration to appreciate all of you. Apart from those, MOH Holdings, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and representatives from your institutions are also planning nation-wide celebrations. We will also be encouraging patients and their families to participate and show their appreciation to you for how you have touched their lives. I hope you will enjoy the celebrations and know that you are very, very much appreciated.

 

 

 

 

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