“Our thriving academic environment and culture welcome nurses to practise evidence-based care.”
Karen Perera
Assistant Director, Nursing, SGH

Nurses used to clip patients’ hair in the ward before an operation, but a study by my team when I was a younger nurse found that doing it in the operating theatre instead lowered the infection rate.   This shows the importance of having a questioning mind as a nurse.   Such improvements are vital to improving patient care and clinical processes, as well as the growth of the nursing profession.   And they can only bloom when we have effective nursing leaders.

Our thriving academic environment and culture welcome nurses to practise evidence-based care, and a nursing leader will do well to combine good clinical experience with scientific curiosity to help improve the quality of patient care and clinical processes.

In fact, the Magnet® designation that SGH received in 2010 – the highest institutional honour for nursing excellence and leadership – requires nurses to be involved in clinical decisions with a leadership that encourages evidence-based practice.   It is important for all levels of nurses to embrace this opportunity and always question existing practices with the intention of making improvements where possible.   An effective nursing leader gives other nurses a voice.   He or she ensures they get what they need and they can develop their skills to the fullest in their continually expanding roles.

To do this, nursing leaders need to have the clinical experience to understand the demands on nurses and operations, for example, the daily challenges in a busy hospital setting.   They also must be open to being questioned and must walk the talk. Only when they have a good understanding of what is happening on the ground can they be effective voices for nurses and encourage learning in an academic environment.

Nursing leaders also need to be excellent communicators – if they are able to effect changes following staff feedback, they must make sure that these are conveyed to the staff to let them know that their voices matter.

Professor Margaret McClure, from New York University and author of the study that served as the basis for Magnet® designation spoke at the SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress on 6 September. She said that Academic Medical Centres require leadership that is open to change and risk-taking and has a positive and encouraging attitude.

A young nurse aspiring to lead needs to be resourceful to play the several roles required in nursing, from being a patient advocate, counsellor, coordinator to medical professional. You need passion. You also need to identify your strengths and develop them to the best of your ability.

With all the attributes of good leadership in place in SingHealth, we have the ideal environment to develop great nursing leaders.

“Nurses are playing bigger roles in the healthcare landscape and we need good nursing leaders to help us excel. To groom them, SingHealth offers nurses more opportunities for advancing their roles, and sponsors them for higher education and training in specialised areas. The recent announcement of the National Nursing Taskforce’s recommendations will further empower nurses to take on leadership positions – more development opportunities will be provided and the newly created role of Assistant Nurse Clinician will allow experienced nurses to take up clinical leadership roles. Equipped with the right skills, our nurses will make a great impact in improving care.”
– Dr Tracy Carol Ayre
Group Director, Nursing