How often do you go to the clinic? Do you think about the work that the nurses do and how important their job is to all of us? It isn’t a career for woman only. There are many male nurses practising in our hospitals. We interviewed a young nurse, Akhona to find out more about this career.

1. What made you interested in becoming a nurse?
When I grew up, I used to see nurses at the clinic and I started to be interested in what they did. After school, nursing was actually my second choice. My first choice was to be a radiographer (someone who does X-Rays) but I didn’t get accepted for that. I didn’t do the research on nursing to find out what’s expected but I decided to go ahead and study my second choice, nursing, anyway.

2. Do you need matric to study to be a nurse?
Yes, I finished Grade 12. You used to be able to study with any matric subjects but now they want Life Sciences, Maths and English. If you do Maths Lit, then they will want a higher mark for that than they would want for normal Maths.

3. Where did you study?
I studied at a private college called Healthnicon in Parow. I had to apply there to first do six months of Home Care. I did three months of theory and then did three months of practical.

4. How did you find the practical?
On the first day of my practical I wanted to quit. I had to see a deep wound and I was scared. I also didn’t like the smell. When I got home I kept washing my hands. But this only happened for the first week. After that, I got used to it. When you do nursing, you realise that you didn’t know what nurses actually go through. It’s not easy working with people’s lives but it feels good to be helping people.

5. What did you do after the Home Care course?
After that first six months, I knew that nursing was what I wanted to study. I did another year and qualified as an auxiliary nurse. I didn’t study further because I had to pay for my studies. I was at a private college and NSFAS doesn’t help you with funding there. I want to study further but SANC (South African Nursing Council) closed down the college courses for enrolment nursing because the curriculum needed changing. Now they only do the Nursing Sister’s course. We have been waiting for them to offer a bridging course and we’re hoping they might offer it next year.

6. What qualities do you need to have to be a nurse?
You need to like to work with people. You have to work with different people and you have to tolerate everyone. You need to have respect for yourself and treat everyone with dignity and make sure that you care for others. You need to be able to give people hope that the medication they are getting will help. Make sure that you can work with difficult patients and try and understand them. The patients are sometimes physically in pain or are scared of the situation they’re in.

7. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the good that we do. We are trying to change the community in terms of health. The only difficulty I have with the job is the hours. We work from 7am to 7pm but I enjoy my job when I get here.

8. Would you recommend this job to young people?
Yes, I would. It is a good job and when you work with more experienced nurses and sisters you are always learning. You can make a decent living from nursing. I also heard of someone who has a bursary to study through Discovery and while she is studying she also gets a stipend every month. It’s good to listen to the radio or the TV to hear about opportunities in the career that you want.

9. What is the difference between working in a public and a private hospital?
I only did my practical in a public hospital and I now work in a private hospital. From what I can see we are busier here because we are a day ward and often have to admit and discharge 25 patients a day. My day is busy but I prefer that. Time goes fast.

10. What do you aspire to in your career?
I want to become a sister and ultimately work in the laboratories where we test blood samples.

11. Have you go any advice or motivating comments for young people who are thinking of studying?
I passed Grade 12 and didn’t study for a year. I stayed at home and all I thought about was eating and watching TV! It was boring. It felt good to be using my brain again when I began to study.

My other advice would be to rather study at a public university or college, rather than a private one. When you have finished studying at CPUT or UWC you are qualified to do everything. At a private college, when you become a sister you still don’t have qualifications for all the courses such as midwifery (delivering babies). You don’t have all the bars you need to show that you are fully qualified. You have to do every course separately to get each bar and this can take another 4 years. You also don’t get bursaries in private colleges. The practicals, though, were good and I was more familiar with how to do things when I started working.

Akhona is driven by her need to care for others. She is part of an exceptional profession that does great work. She is clearly passionate and professional in the work that she does and I would feel very comfortable if I was her patient one day!

The message from Professor Prof Jennifer-Anne Chipps, the HOD for the School of Nursing at UWC, is, ‘For those interested in becoming a professional nurse, we encourage you to join our School and to become part of the solution in addressing the challenges in the healthcare arena in South Africa.’
Nursing is on the South African ‘National List of Occupations of High Demand’ published by the Department of Higher Education and Training in 2018.

If you want to study to be a nurse or nursing sister here are some places you can study at:

Public Institutions:

Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Waiting for final SANC approval and Higher Education accreditation of the 2020 programmes
Belville Campus
Nursing Science BTech

University of the Western Cape
Bachelor of Nursing (BNurs)
Tel: 021 959 2794

Bachelor of Arts in Nursing Science
Tel: 0800 00 1870

Most universities in South Africa, such as: UCT, Wits, UP, UWC, NWU, UKZN and UNISA offer qualifications in professional nursing. NSFAS funding is available.

Private institutions:

Waiting for accreditation of the new nursing programme
Bursaries offered
Nursing Learnership

Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban North, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town Campuses
Waiting for accreditation of the new nursing programme
Nursing courses

Because the previous nursing qualifications are being phased out by the South African
Nursing Council (SANC) and will be replaced by entirely new nursing qualifications, nursing education in South Africa is still in transition. However, it seems that very good progress has been made and one final piece of legislation needs to be passed for accreditation to be given to many of the institutions. At most institutions you can still apply for the nursing courses. Once the dates for the new intake of prospective students has been confirmed, the information will be send out to students urgently. Keep an eye on the websites as updates will be posted there too.


Tell us: what do you think about nursing as a profession?