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A Foucauldian analysis on the professionalisation effort of nursing in Singapore

Loke, Jennifer; Coluquhoun, Derek; Lee, Kah Wai


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Dr Jennifer Loke
Lecturer / Programme Director (Dual Award in BSc in Nursing Science)

Derek Coluquhoun

Kah Wai Lee


Aim: A discussion using Foucault’s genealogical analysis to explain the professionalisation effort of nursing in Singapore. Background: Nursing in Singapore is strongly influenced by Western civilisation, however, the discipline may not have adopted similar responses to the world’s nursing professionalisation agenda as led by the West. An explanation on the ways nursing is spoken of and practiced in Singapore provides insights to the effects on nursing development in the country. Design: The discussion uses Foucault’s genealogy of power to draw on the practices of clinical nursing and nursing education in Singapore in an attempt to uncover the unorthodox professionalisation effort. Data Sources: The discussion is an outcome of a critical reflective observation made by the authors between 1993 and 2014. It is supported by related literature, critical debates amongst Singapore healthcare professionals, nurse lecturers and the Singapore locals. Implications for Nursing: Time and effort vested in overcoming medico-political dominance, should be used in the pursuit of high quality nursing clinical knowledge and acumen. Specialised nursing knowledge and autonomous practice should adopt an explicit focus in its mission to achieve the common good which is in favour of the public interest. Conclusions: While the hierarchical nursing structure was the foundation for professionalising nursing, nursing subservience was the gateway for advancing nursing in Singapore. Without generalising the positive effects of the power-relations in Singapore, nursing practice which reflected the ‘subservience in females’ and demonstrated respect for authority within a hierarchical system had evidently led to good quality nursing practices which serve as a strong foundation for nursing to secure professional recognition.


Loke, J., Coluquhoun, D., & Lee, K. W. (2015). A Foucauldian analysis on the professionalisation effort of nursing in Singapore. Working papers in the health sciences, 20150070-1-20150070-7

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2015
Deposit Date Dec 18, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Working papers in the health sciences
Print ISSN 2051-6266
Publisher University of Southampton
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Issue Summer
Pages 20150070-1-20150070-7
Keywords Foucault's genealogical analysis, Healthcare reform, Hierarchical health structure, Medico-political power and dominance, Singapore nursing education, Professionalisation of nursing
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Additional Information This is an open access article published in Working papers in the health sciences, 2015 Summer issue.
Contract Date Nov 23, 2017


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