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.