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The nurse can see you now

  Sunday, 01 l 08 l 2010 Source:  The Sunday Times   
By: Yeo Suan Futt

Some patients with chronic diseases that are under control can consult specialist nurses instead of doctors at the polyclinics

see nurse at polyclinicINSTEAD of seeing a doctor at the polyclinic, patients with well-controlled chronic diseases can consult a nurse clinician during their routine checks.

Nurse clinicians are senior nurses who are trained in a clinical specialty such as critical care, oncology, continence management and diabetes education.

Introduced in 2007, the Nurse Clinician Service (NCS) at polyclinics aims to help patients manage their chronic diseases more effectively and efficiently.

It aims to deliver a more personalised level of personal health management for those with stabilised chronic diseases.

According to the World Health Organization, chronic conditions such as stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases affect large numbers of people and these are the leading causes of mortality the world over, accounting for some 60 percent.

Characterised by long duration and generally slow progression, chronic diseases require long term monitoring and management of the patient’s condition and lifestyle.

Nurse clinicians provide consultation, counselling and review of test results with patients. They work together with senior doctors to review a patient’s medical history.

“To be a nurse clinician, a qualified nurse has to have at least three years’ experience in tending to patients with chronic diseases.

“We also have to undergo various training sessions, practical attachments to doctors and pass a competency examination,” explains Ms Agnes Ngoh Soh Heng. The 45-year-old nurse clinician based at Geylang Polyclinic has been in nursing for 28 years.

With qualified nurses providing consultation for selected patients, doctors have more time to see the complicated cases. Patients also benefit in having shorter waiting times for their routine consultation.

“Patients are seen by appointment, they do not have to go through registration and can be attended to at the Nurse Clinic in around 15 minutes,” adds Ms Ngoh. She is one of four nurse clinicians at the polyclinic with about 30 nursing staff.

Response to the NCS has been very positive among patients. One of them, Ms Irene Yap, 57, says: “The nurses are trained and qualified, and I also have more time to ask questions and talk to the nurse about my medical condition.”

For Ms Ngoh, the principal benefit of the NCS lies in the stronger partnership between the healthcare system and the patient in managing chronic diseases.

She says: “Sometimes patients with stabilised conditions get a bit complacent – for example, they are less watchful about their diet, and their cholesterol level or blood pressure goes up.

“We are here to motivate, educate and help patients self-manage their condition, that is our most important role, and it is very rewarding to see a patient’s condition improve through this collaboration.”

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