Desperately seeking nurses: What's the right prescription to heal the global nursing shortage?

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The pandemic has taken a toll on nurses. Across nations, nurses are quitting in large numbers. In Singapore, they are resigning in record numbers, causing a severe shortage at the hospitals.

The Straits Times looks at why they quit and where some of them have gone to.

Who will nurse you? S'pore's nursing crunch could remain for coming years

Nurses in Singapore are seeing their pay go up as efforts are made to retain them in the face of a continued global shortage.

Attrition rates of both foreign and local hires have been rising. Some 14.8 per cent of the foreign nursing cohort left last year - more than double the figure in 2020 - many to countries that offer better remuneration.

Singapore is highly dependent on foreign nurses - more than half the new nurses who entered the profession in 2020 were non-Singaporean.

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Nurses leaving for a better lifestyle and work environment

Earlier this year, Ms Gerai Vito decided to give up her position as a nurse at a hospital in Singapore and move to Leeds in Britain, even though the take-home pay would be lower.

It was not a difficult decision, said Ms Vito, 34, who had worked for six years in Singapore. Her salary in Leeds is about the same as in Singapore - about $8,000 a month - but Britain's tax rate is higher.

Still, there were no regrets.

Ms Vito, who is from the Philippines, said that as a foreign nurse in Singapore, she had already reached a career ceiling. She was a senior staff nurse, and could not expect to be promoted unless she applied to become a permanent resident or citizen, which she found daunting.

"I couldn't be promoted as a manager or as a clinical educator. That was it for me," she said.

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