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Support for nurses should go beyond retention payments

I refer to the article “More than 25,000 nurses to get special payment of 1.7-2.1 months' salary: MOH”.

“As nurses' roles evolve, the Ministry of Health needs to go beyond pay and deploy creative strategies to develop, attract and retain new talent,” writes a TODAY reader.

“As nurses' roles evolve, the Ministry of Health needs to go beyond pay and deploy creative strategies to develop, attract and retain new talent,” writes a TODAY reader.

Jonathan Wong Teck Fatt

I refer to the article “More than 25,000 nurses to get special payment of 1.7-2.1 months' salary: MOH”.

I wonder if this retention payment will successfully reduce the attrition rate for nurses, who have been under the strain of Covid-19 for more than two years.

As nurses' roles evolve, the Ministry of Health (MOH) needs to go beyond pay and deploy creative strategies to develop, attract and retain new talent.

MOH should assess how hospitals monitor and support the well-being of nurses and find genuine ways that will reduce stress and increase engagement.

What exactly are the top factors influencing nurses' decisions to leave? Is it insufficient staffing levels, or the demanding nature and emotional toll of the job? Efforts must be made to find the right answer.

A possible solution would be to explore virtual and on-demand staffing models. Such arrangements could give nurses some workplace flexibility. 

While total remote or on-demand nursing may never be realistic, MOH should explore offering whatever virtual work arrangements where possible.

Many also still view nursing as a "woman's job". Males don't see nursing as a career, perhaps due to the lack of convincing role models.

Those who do take up nursing may be following the footsteps of their parents or have witnessed a male nurse care for a relative or loved one. Such perception and mindsets must change.

Singapore also cannot be over reliant on hiring foreign nurses, a practice which raises questions about its effect on other countries who themselves need nurses.

Instead, steps should be taken to boost the supply of nurses locally as the current nursing workforce is ageing, and Institutes of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities may not graduate replacements in sufficient numbers.

One way to achieve this could be by encouraging more private universities in Singapore to include nursing in their undergraduate courses, possibly with government funding, and in collaboration with public hospitals for practical lessons and on-the-job training.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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Ministry of Health nurses nursing healthcare Salary

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