Honoured for 40 years of health service
SHANTI Ramkilowan remembers riding on a bus with a bag of bones.
Back in 1981, she and her friend used to travel by bus to the University of KwaZuluNatal Medical School, en route to their studies to qualify to be nursing educators.
“The course was tough. You had to know every bone in the body,” the 62-year-old told The Mercury yesterday.
She first started working as a nurse at RK Khan hospital in 1973.
Ramkilowan, now the vice-principal of the KwaZuluNatal Nursing College, was one of three stalwarts recognised last week by the provincial Department of Health for 40 years of service.
Others acknowledged for their efforts were pool vehicle driver Jabulani Gumede, and the chief director of executive support service, Prasheeka Padayachee.
“When 40 years came, it was actually just another day,” said Ramkilowan. “But when they awarded us, we did feel appreciated. It really is a lifetime achievement to have worked for so long in one department.”
For the past 18 years, Ramkilowan’s typical day has involved the oversight of 14 schools, mainly around the northern areas of KZN.
“It’s problem-solving all the time,” she said. “The admin itself entails exams, curriculum and policy management.”
Ramkilowan said aspiring nurses had to be able to hold their nerve in the demanding profession.
“They don’t expect so much studying, so much clinical work and long hours.
“Nursing requires a lot of skill, a lot of knowledge, quick thinking and the compassion that must go with it.
Dedication and commitment were key, “but the difference is you can’t take a chance (in nursing)”.
“There are no re-dos. You have a sick person there and you have to nurse that sick person.”
Ramkilowan feels nurses do not get the respect they deserve.
“Many people think you’re ‘just a nurse’. It should get more respect and recognition.”
On why she chose nursing, Ramkilowan said: “I think my personality to serve others and my spirituality that wants me to care for others.”
For her Master’s degree which she completed at the tender age of 62 last year - Ramkilowan did a thesis based on the causes of attrition among nursing students. She interviewed 290 students.
Ramkilowan will retire in early 2018. “I think I will continue (work) in the community. There’s so much you can do for them.”
But she will also dive further into her passions for nurturing roses and knitting.