Friday, 8 February 2013

Population White Paper: Nursing is a ‘low-skilled’ vocation

8th February 2013

No one can deny that nursing is a very noble and self-sacrificing profession. Nurses are the very backbone of the healthcare sector. Without our nurses, our sick will be left to languish in pain and discomfort, our caregivers will be in much helplessness and despair, and our doctors will be severely handicapped.

The Ministry of Health has this to say about nurses on its website:
The nurse touches the lives of many at the point of care. Nursing is a profession from the heart for the well being of the sick and infirmed. The nurse is an essential member and collaborator in the healthcare team who:
  • makes assessments on patients’ physical, mental and social well-being
  • performs medical and nursing procedures
  • facilitate treatment and care delivery
  • and much more.
Three things become apparent from the above statement:
  1. nursing is a profession;
  2. nurses are essential, even central, to the healthcare sector;
  3. nurses perform important and multiple roles that require special skills and training.
Even the most basic nursing training requires two years of study and clinical work in order for one to qualify as a nurse. The Bachelor of Science degree in nursing takes even longer to obtain.

After training, one has to further be registered with the Singapore Nursing Board (SNB) in order to practise as a nurse in Singapore. This practising certificate is renewable annually. It is an offence to practise nursing/midwifery without a valid practising certificate (Nurses and Midwives Act, Chapter 209 [Section 26 (1)]).

From SNB’s website:

“The SNB is a statutory board established under the Nurses and Midwives Act (Chapter 209) to register and enrol nurses, register midwives and certify Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs). It also regulates the standards of education, professional conduct and ethics, and scope of practice of nurses and registered midwives in Singapore.” (LINK)

As the regulatory authority for nurses and midwives in Singapore, its aim is “to protect the public through licensure and regulation of nursing/midwifery education and practice”.

All this does make nursing sound very professional, and indeed it is a profession yet the Population White Paper released by the government recently classed nursing as a “low-skilled” job.

After much furore from the healthcare sector and public, the National Population and Talent Division put out the following:

Notice of Correction
We have corrected footnote 12 on page 40 of the Population White Paper where we had inaccurately labelled some professions as “low-skilled”, when we had meant to highlight that these jobs are hard to off-shore. We sincerely apologise for the error.

One wonders how a team of talented writers from the Prime Minister’s office, no less, can confuse low-skilled workers with work that is “hard to off-shore”. The two meanings cannot be more different. Sweeping is low-skilled work because one does not need to be trained in sweeping nor be licensed to sweep. Care-giving is a job that is “hard to offshore” because one needs to be present in order to provide that care. So did the writers of the Population White Paper really think nursing as a low-skilled job or are they so very poor in their English comprehension that they could make such an honest mistake?
Maybe they meant foreigners who come here to work as nurses are low-skilled? If so, why are such foreigners continuously called talents by our government and the mainstream media?

This is another piece of evidence that not much thought had gone into this Population White Paper at all and those who wrote it were confused, careless and thoughtless.

Good luck to Singapore and Singaporeans if our policies and future plans are drawn up by such talents!

Source: TRE website

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