CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Why did you want to be­come a nurse? What do you en­joy most about nurs­ing? What do you find most chal­leng­ing? What did you have to study to be­come a nurse? De­scribe your typ­i­cal work­ing day. Is nurs­ing more tech­ni­cal and spe­cialised than peo­ple think? W

ay 12 was In­ter­na­tional Nurses’ Day. Vy­jayan­thi­mala van Heer­den, a clin­i­cal nurs­ing lec­turer and pro­fes­sional nurse at the Som­er­set Hos­pi­tal in Cape Town, an­swers a few ques­tions about this chal­leng­ing but re­ward­ing ca­reer.

For me, it is a call­ing rather than a pro­fes­sion. For as long as I can re­mem­ber, I’ve al­ways wanted to care for the sick.

I have been a nurse for 24 years.

To help peo­ple in need and the pas­sion that nurses show the pa­tients they care for.

It is im­por­tant for nurses to lis­ten to their pa­tients, and show pa­tience and com­pas­sion.

To see a pa­tient’s con­di­tion de­te­ri­o­rat­ing over the years.

I have seen first-hand how dis­eases af­fect the lives of many peo­ple.

To be a pro­fes­sional nurse and mid­wife, you need a BA de­gree in nurs­ing and mid­wifery.

To be a reg­is­tered staff nurse, you need a di­ploma in nurs­ing. To be a nurs­ing aide, you need a higher cer­tifi­cate in aux­il­iary nurs­ing.

My day starts at a quar­ter to seven. My first task is to en­sure that the night staff bring the day staff fully up to date on the con­di­tion of all the pa­tients.

Then I plan and check the daily ac­tiv­ity list for the staff un­der my su­per­vi­sion.

I eval­u­ate and draw up pro­grammes to im­prove med­i­cal prac­tices for the pa­tients’ well­be­ing.

I act as a source of in­for­ma­tion for the peo­ple around me, and eval­u­ate and set goals for ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes. I give on­go­ing guid­ance and in­ves­ti­gate meth­ods for im­prov­ing pa­tient care. Yes, to­day’s nurses are more spe­cialised. The nurs­ing in­dus­try, once dom­i­nated by women, nowa­days in­cor­po­rates men with­out any stigma.

Ed­u­ca­tion and clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence have en­sured that nurses stay at the fore­front of their pro­fes­sion from the mo­ment they grad­u­ate un­til they re­tire.

I want to change the ba­sis of nurs­ing so as to show even more com­pas­sion for both pa­tients and the staff who serve those pa­tients.

As a clin­i­cal nurse, I am re­quired to at­tend the lo­cal train­ing ses­sions of the West­ern Cape health depart­ment. Th­ese ses­sions teach me how to im­prove my pa­tient care con­stantly, and how to use and main­tain the best med­i­cal prac­tices.

It is es­sen­tial for you to have a dis­po­si­tion to serve and al­ways to be com­pas­sion­ate. Read about the ca­reer and work hard on your aca­demic marks.

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