All About NUS Nursing!


Posted July 01, 2019
Last modified July 01, 2019

20 mins read



This article is reposted from, originally written by u/pinktreachery.

Hello! I’m a current NUS Nursing student, and will be happy to answer any questions. This post is for those thinking about NUS Nursing but have some doubts regarding Nursing in general!

I can understand how daunting it can be - especially since you’re signing up for a specialized course / professional degree where you know exactly that you’ll be one thing at the end - a nurse.

Edit: Join the discord chat for applicants - if you wanna ask me or your fellow applicants some qns -

Please correct me if I’m wrong for any of my statements :)

**PAY (poly vs degree)

Yes, the main differences would be the pay, how fast you get promoted, and the jobscopes. For the pay, the difference will be around 800-1000$ monthly if im not wrong, depending on the hospital. You will come out as staff nurse I with degree, and staff nurse II with diploma (I is higher than II). I is only one position away from senior staff nurse (so promotion is faster, pay goes up faster etc). For pay, degree holders earn about $3,500 a month, which is the same as Pharmacy degree holders. From government employment data from last yr, Life Science degrees/Arts degree holders earn only about 3100-3300$ a month in average.


As for jobscope, the diploma holders, ITE cert holders, and foreign nurses will be under your leadership. You will be the senior in the ward. For jobscope of SN I and SN II, i believe it lies in how many patients you take care of and how many people are under you, plus some admin things to do. SNII has more responsibilities but in general, your jobscopes are more similar vs the ite holders and foreign nurses.


I love the qn about the stigma hehe. Okay anyway, the seemingly “dirty” jobs like cleaning butts and bathing patients and changing diapers will NOT be done by staff nurses - it will be done by nursing aides/nursing assistants/enrolled nurses, those from ITE / foreign nurses (tho there are some nurses from overseas who get promoted to SNs eventually!).

Staff nurses’ jobs are as follows:

  1. dispense medications. You will be the last check bw the dr’s orders and the pt. Some drs may order the wrong dose or wrong meds due to fatigue - the onus is on you to check whether the drug is appropriate for the patient (some drugs for heart failure cannot be used for diabetic pts etc).

  2. You are IC of assessment of patient - skin integrity, making sure that the patient is well during the hospital stay in general. We spend the most time with patients - hence, we are the perfect people to see any subtle changes in their conditions. All these subtle changes, if needed, should be immediately escalated to the doctor for further treatment.

  3. Patient and family education - we spend the most time with patients. Doctors are only there for about 5min a day, hence any qns will be directed at you. Eg: nurse! Why does my father have an IV drip??? - have to explain that it’s because he needs to be hydrated etc as he cannot take anything by mouth before surgery etc.

Edit: perhaps I was not so clear / oversimplified the part about SNs not doing “dirty jobs” - you are absolutely right that they check skin integrity etc during diaper changes! When I went for my community hospital placement, the SNs were called by the juniors (ENs/nursing aides) when they change the diapers and notice any erythema etc. If short-staffed, SNs may help, but the juniors mostly do those jobs! If they do it, it will be with a purpose - eg if skin is broken and more care needs to be taken / need to change sacral dressing etc. I did not see any SN get assigned (or just do) those duties without special reasons such as understaffing, or skin integrity assessment. I do see the juniors who do those always call the SNs if they notice anything wrong with the skin! In a way, they are getting empowered in that way too! :)


Furthermore, there are 3 different tracks that nurses can pursue after a basic bachelor’s degree. After working for about maybe 1-3 years, you can take a master’s degree then pursue one of the 3 tracks. They are: management, clinical and education tracks.

Management - in charge of the ward, the staff, troubleshooting patient staff probs, patient patient probs, staff staff probs etc, admin stuff.

Clinical - called Advanced Practice Nurses, they will be like “mini doctors”. If you don’t know, some clinica in the polyclinics are PURELY run by nurses alone - they can manage diseases like diabetes, hypertension etc and prescribe meds without doctors. The only thig they cannot do will be surgery.

Education - come back to the nursing polys/nus to teach.

Occasionally, some people do 2 of the 3 + research, this is called dual appointments :)

So please, let your parents know that degree nursing is really not about washing butts anymore! :)


IGP can be found on the NUS website. I heard that your cohort did well this year, so it may increase, tho it has been consistent the past few years. If your rp is much higher (tho we dont know the cut-off), you don’t have to go through interviews (perhaps 80++++). There are people who get in with much lower rp than the IGP, please put Nursing as 1st choice if you are worried you can’t get shortlisted for interviews!


This can be used for any interview/personal statement.

Motivation: why nursing? Why healthcare?

Exploration: what have you done to cultivate this passion? Hospital attachments? Job shadowings? Talking to nurses? What did you learn?

Suitability: from your exploration, do you think that you, as a person, with your character and attitude, are fit to be a nurse? How so?

Also one qn they may ask: where do you see yourself 10 years from now? You then flex your knowledge of the 3 nursing tracks above and where you intend to go to :)


Omg funfunfun. We have fake FULL wards in school where we learn all the nursing skills, practice on mannequins who breathe and have pulses etc. We also have standardized patients who are trained actors for us to practice our communication skills.

Lectures and tutorials. Some lectures are video lectures. Watch at home at 2x the speed!!

School is only 3 MAX 4 days a week, only 2-4hrs of lessons each day. Plenty of time to work or have CCAs or blahblah! :)

Edit: The kind of bio that we learn is different from H2 Bio. H2 Bio deals with the very minute things like oxidative phosphorylation and ETC and Krebs cycle and all its small molecules. However, we deal with humans here. Human anatomy and physiology, the human body and how it dysfunctions. The anatomy and physiology mods are pretty similar to secondary school bio - you learn about the heart and how the blood flows in general, as well as how it dysfunctions. However, we don’t delve too deep into the molecules at all - that’s for the medical students to do. Yes, there will be a LOT of medical terms, and you have to be ready for that if you join nursing or any healthcare-related field, honestly. It’s hard at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will come naturally :)


That’s alright! I have friends who haven’t done bio since sec 1/2, and friends from poly who did intl business/engineering.

Just like learning a new language, the bio content in nursing is like that. Once you learn the alphabets, the phonetics, you can start stringing words together. Nursing doesn’t delve into the very minute things like molecules and stuff, so no worries 😉


Do note that NUS Nursing students (and all other nursing students in the country) are very special. For every university holiday, half of it will be spent in the wards (eg if 3 months break, 1.5 months in the wards) ☺️ but you will be paid!!


Someone asked me this - and this is my honest take.

During nursing school: We have cadaveric sessions - this means that you get to see real, preserved human bodies and you are required to touch and observe them, texture and all, during those anatomy sessions. They don’t look like normal fresh organs anymore - you can search some “science cadavers” to see how they look like! As for blood, generally you have to be alright with the sight of it as your first lab session will already have a finger-prick glucose test that you do on your friend (and vice versa). During clinicals, you will be exposed to wounds that may be huge and bleeding, etc, so you have to be okay with it. I do have some friends who enter nursing and medicine who are afraid of blood and needles and things like that - you can get used to it, through repeated exposure.

As a real nurse: You have to be alright with these sights as there of course may be some instances where the patient vomits blood/starts bleeding from somewhere and you have to manage the patient. If you are unlucky and get posted to the operating theatre as an OT nurse, then you will be assisting doctors in surgeries where you WILL see these. I suggest you try to watch some youtube videos to see if you can take it. Do know that you can get used to it!! Bottomline is, you can’t be afraid of your job.


Some scholarships for nursing students! By year 4, 80% of the whole cohort will be under scholarship.

1. MOHH Scholarship

  • pays for tuition fees, hostel fees, book and computer allowance

  • gives you $1,100 a month (i think iz 1,100)

  • PROS: money money money

  • CONS: you can only put preference for a healthcare cluster, you cannot choose which hospital you wanna work at. Also, harder to get.

2. Hospital Sponsorships

  • gives you $1,000 a month

  • PRO: you can choose your hospital. Eg some of my classmates wanna work as a paeds nurse next time, so they take sponsorship from KK hospital! Also, super easy to get. They give freely one.

  • CONS: does not pay for anything else

You don’t need to decide whether you wanna take a scholarship now. Many people go for clinicals for some hospitals for 1/2yrs to see which hospital they wanna get sponsored by.


Know that: doctors cure, nurses care. So everything we learn is geared towards our roles. While doctors learn much, much more in-depth stuff to pinpoint what is the dysfunction in the body exactly, nurses learn just enough so that we are able to catch any potential mistakes. For example, sometimes medications are mistakenly ordered when patients have drug allergies, or when patients have other conditions that are contraindicated for that drug. Nurses play a big role in knowing the general science so as to prevent such fatal mistakes. Short answer: Medicine delves deep, deep, and wide, while nurses generally just learn the basics!

Also, when a patient walks in with a limp, a doctor will zoom straight into the condition. Eg: what meds can I give or surgery can I do to cure this patient? If the same patient walks into the room, nurses will look a the patient and family. Eg: He is limping, how will I help him up the bed? How will this affect his job? His family? Does he have children?


I think different countries and THEN different schools have different niche areas that they focus on. For example, we import a lot of nurses from other Asian countries - firstly because they are extremely good with their skills even though the labour cost is relatively cheaper as compared to poly/nus/sit nursing graduates from Singapore. The Singapore nursing schools - ie poly/SIT and especially NUS Nursing, are trying to produce nursing leaders of the future in Singapore. Hence, on top of hands-on skills, the focus will be on cultivating that ability to lead the healthcare team that they are part of - cuz indeed, as a freshgrad, you are already in the same position as foreign nurses who may have years and years of experiences more than you.

There’s also a flip side of the coin. In other parts of the world, that is. Nursing in the US, UK, Australia, from what I heard, have much more autonomy than nurses here in Singapore - they are generally able to do more. If I’m not wrong, they are called Nurse Practitioners there, similar to our Advanced Practice Nurses in Singapore - with much more autonomy in prescribing meds/doing procedures etc (you can search all about it). Generally, their pay is higher also - but that may be due to the fact that the standard of living is much higher there as well - a fastfood meal in the US can easily cost $15 :<

I think one thing you should ask yourself is, do you want to serve your home country? If yes, you have to settle for the pay here. On tope of that, how do you want to serve your country? An overseas nursing degree, like any overseas course, will offer you insights that you can hopefully translate back to the clinical setting here in Singapore. However, getting a local degree will ensure that you are the most up to date when it comes to the Singapore healthcare system and its current issues.

Bottomline is, it’s up to you, and what is the most important for you :)


This is not a why NOT nursing, but someone asked me if there’s anything that made me wanna turn away from Nursing. My answer was I haven’t been to hospitals long enough for that, but from my convos with many nurses in the wards, it’s mostly this.

  1. You will inevitably get attached to some, especially if you work as a community hosp nurse where pts there stay for 3 mths or more, as compared to acute hospitals where they stay for only 3-4 days. So you have to be prepared for deaths because everybody dies eventually. While doing that, try not to get too desensitized too to the point that you lose your humanity. However, it is a privilege to be there with people in their last breaths.

  2. Sick people are angry people, their relatives are angry too. Be mentally prepared to be scolded and criticized (but SG law protects healthcare workers from physical and verbal abuse). But still. However, the satisfaction is worth it when they show gratitude after recovery :)


I haven’t personally experienced it as a nurse as I haven’t been in the wards long enough. However, I will answer based on my personal experience when my grandma passed away, as well as my conversations with other nurses/healthcare professionals :)

  1. Give yourself time to grieve. We are all humans, with real emotions and feelings. While many many years of being in healthcare may get you used to people dying / being struck with fatal illnesses everyday, someday, you may still encounter a patient whom you may get too attached to and the unthinkable happens. Please, take the time to grieve and reflect. Talk to people who understand.

  2. See the bigger picture. I once performed CPR on an elderly lady (not in the hospital - at her house), and she passed on a few days later in the hospital. Though it may seem tragic, since it’s a death after all, I know that she’s in a better place now. She does not have to suffer the complexities of her diseases + any broken ribs due to the CPR, if ever.

  3. Remember not to be too hard on yourself. Sometimes you may feel that it’s your fault, for not checking on the patient enough, for missing out the signs. It’s alright. Everybody makes mistakes and we all learn from them.

Whew! Hope I answered all qns. Feel free to comment if you wanna know anything else :) Nursing is not just a dumping ground for students who messed up A Levels :)

Also, the NUS Nursing Instagram page covered the lives of some of my nursing schoolmates the past week!! Check it out! It’s a really nice read to know the ins and outs of NUS Nursing 🌚

Edit 1: SNs having to do junior work sometimes too @ “DO WE JUST WASH BUTTS?”

Edit 2: Included discord chat link, curriculum updated on bio content, added a new FAQ - what if im scared of blood?

Edit 3: Added new FAQ - overseas vs sg nursing, another FAQ - how to deal with people passing away in nursing?

This article is reposted from, originally written by u/pinktreachery.

Editor @kslui