Have you ever been worried about your health or the health of someone close to you? Or, are you someone who wants to help others when they are struggling? Nurses have always played a critical role in our society. Without them our hospitals and clinics would cease to function as they are our primary health-care givers when we are sick. They have been our shining heroes during the pandemic. They have worked on, despite the risk to themselves, to help others.

If helping others appeals to you and you want to play a part in the essential services of this country, then nursing may be a good profession to look into. It is also a needed critical skill and, should you study to become a nurse, you will always find work.

What is the scope of work covered by nurses?
Once you have qualified as a nurse, you have a large range of nursing activities that you can choose to become involved in. You most likely will work in either a hospital or a clinic but you may want to specialise to become one of the following:
– Surgical nurse
– Theatre nurse: helping surgeons during operations
– Midwifery nursing: helping mothers and new-born babies
– Neonatal nursing: helping new-born babies who are born with difficulties such as being born prematurely
– Paediatric nursing: helping babies, children and adolescents
– Community nursing
– Trauma nursing: helping those who have acute injuries caused by car accidents etc.
– Psychiatric nursing: helping those with mental health issues
– Nursing management
– Nursing education

As you can see, there is a wide range of areas in which you can become involved.
If you decide that you would prefer not to work in a hospital or a clinic some of your other options are to work in a pharmacy, nursing home, medical lab or a government institution.

What are the different levels of nursing in South Africa?
There are three categories of nurses in South Africa:
– A registered (professional) nurse who has 4 years of training
– An enrolled with 2 years of training
– An auxiliary nurse with 1 year of training

Students have a choice to study at either a university or a college. The difference between a diploma course and a degree course is that you will be able to specialise in a larger variety of fields if you have a degree. It is possible, though, to take bridging courses should you decide that you want to improve your diploma to a degree in the future. An advantage of studying at a college is that you will be paid while you do your practical work.

What do you need in order to enrol to study as a nurse?
You will need a NSC matric certificate or equivalent Level 4 qualification with over 50% in English, First Additional or Home language, Life Sciences, Maths Literacy and Life Orientation. Maths and Physical Science are also recommended but not compulsory for all institutions of further study.

Where can you study to become a nurse?
It’s really important that you study at an accredited institution that is recognised by SANC (South African Nursing Council). There are a number of institutions offering uncredited courses so do your research carefully. To see if an institution is accredited click here.

There are a wide range of universities and colleges that offer accredited courses. Some of these are:
Nelson Mandela University
University of the Free State
university of Pretoria
Tshwane University of Technology
University of Venda
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
South African Military Health Service Nursing College
– Western Cape College of Nursing
– Gauteng College of Nursing
– Free state College of Nursing

Refer to the SANC website given above to find other training facilities in various provinces.

Find the 2021 online application forms for public nursing colleges here [https://onlineapplications.co.za/nursing-schools-colleges-application-2/]

Nurses really are the heroes of our time. Doctors would not be able to manage the health sector without the invaluable help from nurses who do much of the day-to-day care of patients. Sadly, South Africa has a major shortage of these skilled professionals so if you want to study towards a career in which you definitely will find work, this is the one! Being a nurse does require an immense degree of dedication and care, though, and definitely isn’t for the those who aren’t passionate about it.


Tell us: Are you interested in nursing? If so, why?

Next week Busiswa Mahonono interviews nurse, Noxolo Mxutu about working as a nurse. Watch this space!