Nurses Day was originally celebrated as Nurses Week from 1965 before becoming Nurses Day in the 1980s. Nurses Day is a day set aside to honour and recognise the contribution of nurses to Singapore. It is usually marked with celebrations for nurses, which include graduation ceremonies, blood donation drives, concerts, exhibitions, funfairs and charity events.1 Since 1990, the president has opened the Istana to nurses on Nurses Day, to thank them for their valuable contribution to the health and well-being of the nation.2
Singapore celebrates Nurses Day on 1 August, unlike other countries that celebrate Nurses Day on 12 May, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. 1 August marks the beginning of the development of nursing in Singapore.3
Up until 1885, healthcare in Singapore had been poor. While there were several hospitals available (at Pearl's Hill, the Sepoy Lines and Kandang Kerbau), there was a lack of nurses to support the work of the doctors. A call for nurses was answered by nuns from the local French Convent, who started nursing at the General Hospital at the Sepoy Lines on 1 August 1885.4
On 1 August 2000, then President S. R Nathan inaugurated the President's Award for Nurses, given out every year to up to three outstanding nurses.5
1. Lee, C. E., & Satku, K. (Eds.). (2016). Singapore's health care system: What 50 years have achieved. Singapore: World Scientific, p. 169. (Call no.: RSING 362.1095957 SIN)
2. One day to Nurses’ Day. (2009, July 31). Today. Retrieved from http://www.singhealth.com.sg/DoctorsAndHealthcareProfessionals/Documents/July31FINAL451PM.pdf
3. Three days to Nurses’ Day. (2009, July 29). Today. Retrieved from http://www.singhealth.com.sg/DoctorsAndHealthcareProfessionals/Documents/SingHealthNursesDay_TODAY_29Jul.pdf
4. Singapore. Ministry of Health. (1997). More than a calling: Nursing in Singapore since 1885. Singapore: Ministry of Health. (Call no.: RSING 610.73069 MOR)
5. Nurses Day. (2000, August 1). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Nurses: New pay scales by year's end. (1997, August 2). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Nursing that ambition. (2000, August 5). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Singapore Nurses Assocation. (2015). Singapore Nurses Association. Retrieved from Singapore Nurses Association website: www.sna.org.sg
The information in this article is valid as at 2000 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.