As a nurse, Noncedo Mxutu is one of South Africa’s courageous frontline workers. She, like many other nurses, was fearful at first of the risk and challenges of the pandemic, as she says, “I’ve learnt that being a nurse is way more than caring for someone else but being a hero risking your life to save someone else’s life.” Busiswa Mahonono interviewed Noncedo to find out more about what it is she loves about nursing and how she came to follow this career.

What made you want to get into Nursing?
As a person who grew up in rural areas and in a family that was very poor, my parents were not educated.. I had no career orientation, which is the struggle for children growing up in rural areas. In 2008 I finished Matric with a symbol – H. I knew I wanted to be educated and that I had to go back to high school. In 2011 I redid grade 12 which I passed with flying colours.

Initially I wanted to be a teacher or social worker. I was put on the waiting list. I applied late for nursing and was accepted. My love for it grew day in day out. From first year to final year until today, I don’t regret the decision of becoming a nurse

What is the most rewarding part of being a nurse?
The most rewarding part of being a nurse who works in the maternity unit is seeing a mother and a newborn child going home healthy and happy, especially if there have been complications either with the mother or the baby post-delivery. To know you have done your best to help them, that’s a great moment.

What is the hardest part?
Losing a patient, seeing someone lose their life, dying in your hands, and knowing you did your best to help them is painful.

How has working during a pandemic changed being a nurse for you?
This was my first experience of working in a pandemic. I’m a frontline worker, I have learnt a lot. I was fearful to be honest as the risk was high and challenges were more severe than in normal day to day life. I’ve learnt that being a nurse is way more than caring for someone else, but being a hero risking your life to save someone else’s life. For a moment I questioned myself on whether it was worth it but I remembered that when I finished my degree I made a pledge: “I solemnly pledge myself to the service of humanity and will endeavor to practice my profession with conscience and with dignity. I will maintain by all means in my power the honor and noble traditions of my profession. The total health of my patients will be my first consideration. I will hold in confidence all personal matters coming to my knowledge. I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patients. I will maintain the utmost respect for human life. I make these promises, solemnly, freely and upon my honor,” this pledge alone is motivation to keep going.