Myth 1: “All nurses are the same”
There are broadly two types of nurses: Enrolled Nurses and Registered Nurses. Both need valid Practising Certificates (PC) to work in Singapore, but the two differ in their educational and training requirements, as well as work responsibilities.
Enrolled Nurses must complete the two-year NITEC course in Nursing, including an internship in a healthcare institution. They can also take post-NITEC courses to become a Senior Enrolled Nurse, which opens more opportunities. With additional school credits, Enrolled Nurses can obtain a degree in Nursing if they want to become Registered Nurses. The primary responsibility of an Enrolled Nurse is to support Registered Nurses.
On the other hand, Registered Nurses need either a Diploma or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Health Sciences. Afterwards, they have to pass the Singapore Nursing Board (SNB) Licensure Exam to practise in Singapore. Once you are a Registered Nurse, you can pursue several nursing specialities. This brings us to myth number two:
Myth 2: “Nurses only work in hospitals”
Fact: Besides clinical care, Registered Nurses can progress to several career tracks like management, education, and research. These pave the way for specialisations such as the following:
Nurses in this track do not see patients and mainly take on administrative duties. They promote the professional and personal development of their team members and also ensure their facilities and workplaces are compliant with health and safety standards.
In this field of work, the nurse acts as the link between their peers, other healthcare workers, and higher management.
Nurse Educators can work in a medical institution or academy. Those in the former will create programs and train nurses in a hospital setting. In the latter, they will teach Nursing students in school.
If they pursue a career in medical academies, Nurse Educators can work their way up from being lecturers to professors. They can eventually take on the role of Director of Nursing.
Practitioners in this track aim to understand illnesses and constantly innovate how to treat them. They are scientists who identify, design, and conduct scientific inquiries, then collect and analyse data to report their findings.
More often than not, nursing researchers work with scientists from related fields like nutrition and pharmacy. They also write articles and research reports for medical journals.
Nurses in this field are trained in computer science and information technology. Nursing is combined with technology to efficiently collect and manage the data that impacts healthcare.
If you are passionate about using technology to solve problems and manage projects, this track could spark your interest.
Myth 3: “Nurses do everything”
Fact: Nursing specialities are growing to better cater to patients’ diverse needs. Below are a few that are thriving in Singapore:
Though nurse midwives may deliver babies, those in this speciality are trained to provide women with care across their lifespans. They collaborate with health professionals who are experts in women’s health, like obstetricians and gynaecologists.
A perianaesthesia nurse is also known as a recovery room nurse. They care for patients who are either undergoing or are recovering from anaesthesia. Their work is critical, as it involves monitoring a patient’s vitals to ensure a pain-free and safe surgical procedure.
Besides pre-surgery preparations, perianaesthesia nurses monitor how alert, tired or disoriented patients are when the anaesthesia wears off. They also monitor possible side effects related to the anaesthesia.
Registered Nurses who choose paediatrics will care for patients from birth to adolescence. To prepare for their role, they have to acquire a deep understanding of health conditions in children.
Because the treatment for children is different from adults, paediatric nurses need to be creative and be able to form bonds with their young patients.
Paediatric nurses assess the condition of their patients and record them. They observe patients and dutifully administer medicines and treatments with a higher level of sensitivity, as younger patients are more vulnerable. They also educate patients and their families on how to manage illnesses or injuries.
Critical care or Intensive Care Unit nursing is a specialisation that primarily focuses on patients with life-threatening conditions. Those in this specialisation work with the most multi-disciplinary health professionals. A diverse team ensures that patients in highly delicate and sensitive states receive optimal care.
Since their patients are usually in unstable health conditions, critical care nurses need to have the ability to make quick decisions. This can make their role more mentally and physically demanding than other nursing specialities.
Oncology nurses are Registered Nurses who care specifically for patients who are diagnosed with cancer. Practitioners in this specialty get to work with a wide range of patients, from the very young ones to the elderly, and from outpatients to patients under palliative care.
Caring specifically for elderly patients is the job of gerontology nurses or geriatric nurses. They often work in rehabilitation centres, nursing homes, hospice facilities, as well as patients’ homes for one-on-one care.
Palliative care is about giving support and treatment to people with a life-limiting illness. Registered Nurses in this speciality may work in varied settings, including the homes of their patients. They also help patients’ families go through what could be one of the toughest times of their lives.
While nursing jobs are in high demand in Singapore, not many people know about the nursing specialities available. Specialisation, particularly in the medical field, ensures that optimal care is given to patients. As demands in healthcare grow more complex, nursing specialities provide more focused solutions to address multifaceted health conditions.
This article is contributed by JobStreet.