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Community hospital to be built on former nursing school site at SGH

The School of Nursing located at Singapore General Hospital will be demolished in July to make way for a new community hospital.

SINGAPORE: The former School of Nursing, located at the Singapore General Hospital campus, will be demolished in July to make way for a new community hospital.

More than 600 nurses and their former tutors gathered for its closing ceremony on Wednesday.

It was a walk down memory lane for the nurses as they toured an exhibition of medical equipment used in the 1950s for wound dressing, infant feeding and urine testing.

For some of the nurses, discipline was a core value they learnt in school.

Karen Perera, assistant director of nursing at Singapore General Hospital, said: "They were really strict and disciplined right down to our uniform, our shoes and socks. So it is a very sad feeling and yet it is a progression for healthcare as we have to make way for a hospital."

Chey Boon Tiang, senior nurse manager at Singapore General Hospital, said: "Nursing was very strict. The uniform has to be well starched and your shoes have to be very white and your hair has to be combed back too."

In tandem with the government's move to formalise nursing education under the Education Ministry, the school stopped functioning when Nanyang Polytechnic rolled out its diploma programme in 1992. In 2006, Ngee Ann Polytechnic started its nursing diploma programme as well. About 1,000 diploma-trained nurses graduate from both schools each year.

Training for nurses has grown by leap and bounds, with close to 40 per cent of registered nurses now holding a degree, master's degree or PhD qualification.

To draw more into the industry, a National Nursing Taskforce was set up to redesign and enhance nursing.

But the challenge of recruiting locals remains and the taskforce will look into changing the perception of nurses.

Dr Tracy Carol Ayre, group director of nursing at Singapore General Hospital, said: "Although public perception has changed over time, it needs to change even further to show them what other roles nurses can perform.

"We are usually seen in the traditional care and touch but they don't see the technical and thinking aspects that go on in nursing."

The taskforce will also enhance post-registration nursing education to enable nurses to manage diverse patient care needs. 

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