Retaining nurses in Singapore’s public healthcare is about more than just monetary incentives

Nurses play vital roles in healthcare systems by providing care and managing their patients’ clinical conditions. However, there is a global shortage of nursing staff as many opted to leave the profession to pursue other career paths.

As part of the Singapore government’s commitment to retaining nurses, Minister for Health Mr Ong Ye Kung announced on 20 February 2024 a new retention scheme, the Award for Nurses’ Grace, Excellence and Loyalty (ANGEL), where nurses will receive up to S$100,000, with payouts every four to six years. This scheme, however, only touches the tip of the iceberg in retaining nurses as it does not solve other prevailing issues that nurses face, such as burnout from long working hours or unsupportive work environments.

Professor Liaw Sok Ying, who is the Head of Department of the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (NUS Nursing) under the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Associate Professor Zhou Wentao, who is Director of Education, Post-Graduate and Continuing Education and Training at NUS Nursing, highlight that it is vital to provide nurses with a supportive work environment by taking care of their well-being and professional development.

They also emphasised the need to recognise nurses for their roles beyond hygiene care for patients, including being aware of clinical nuances that are a matter of life and death for their patients. Ensuring opportunities for higher education is another way to empower and support nurses to thrive in their careers to ensure a robust domestic nursing workforce for a resilient healthcare system.

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