Nurses’ Skills Upgraded By New NUS Programme

The next time you head down to a hospital – touch wood – you may get nurses prescribing you medicine instead of having to wait in line for a doctor.

That is, if you are lucky enough to meet either of 2 nurses who are now qualified to write you a prescription.

There is currently only a small group of Advanced Practice Nurse (APNs) graduates from National University of Singapore’s (NUS) new programme.

But industry experts are hailing the move to upgrade nurses’ skills as a step in the right direction to reduce waiting times in hospitals.

Nurses can prescribe medicines independently

The National Collaborative Prescribing Programme legally trains nurses to prescribe medicines and order tests for patients without needing a doctor to sign off.

As of July 2018, there have been 19 nurses who have graduated from the programme. The number could be larger now as there have been more intakes since then.

Hospitals that want to embark on the programme will need to have a licence first. One hospital that has already obtained theirs is Alexandra Hospital.

A first for Alexandra Hospital

The first nurse in Alexandra Hospital who is able to prescribe medicines for patients is Ms Wendy Yue, who helms the outpatient clinic at the hospital.

She was part of the first batch to graduate from the programme.

Of her new certification, she told The New Paper she feels “more satisfied” as she can “do more for her patients”, rather than just referring them to the doctor.

Alexandra Hospital is also relishing in the achievement.

 
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Received positive feedback

The programme has gotten thumbs-ups from many healthcare professionals.

They noted that the patients’ waiting times are now shorter, which is important especially with an ageing population.

Dr Karen Koh, a graduate from the programme, explains the change.

“Otherwise, they would have to face prolonged waiting times while we consult the doctors and sort out prescriptions for them.”

The course also brings together different healthcare professionals who teach and learn from one another.

A noble profession

The nursing profession isn’t regarded as highly as doctors or other medical professionals.

Nurses’ jobs sometimes involve cleaning after patients.

Ryan Chua, a senior staff nurse at National Skin Centre’s phototherapy unit, even had his career choice questioned by his aunt, who said it was a “dirty job”.

Now that nurses can be qualified to do certain tasks without needing the doctor’s approval, let’s hope that perceptions will change.

Hopefully, this would be the first of many steps towards removing the stigma surrounding the nursing profession. To all our hardworking nurses who work tirelessly to care for those in need, keep up the awesome work!

Featured image from Facebook.