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We look at nursing as a career

To educate and allow young people to discover new interests, we will shine light on different careers every week.

Selecting the correct career is a crucial decision with far-reaching implications. It is a choice that will shape your future, underscoring the importance of making an informed decision.

Over the next few weeks, The African Reporter will engage with business people, professionals, and other role players, focusing on a specific career every week.

We are doing this to give our younger readers mulling their career choices valuable guidance. This week, we give a platform to the nursing career. Duduza resident Ntokozo Pule (25) has been a nurse for two years.

She said she chose nursing as a career because she is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives by offering them hope, sometimes during the worst time of their lives.

Pule said being a nurse requires a person who can deal with different people daily because it can be stressful but is doable.

What is nursing?
Nursing is a healthcare profession that integrates the art and science of caring and focuses on protecting, promoting, and optimising health and human functioning, preventing illness and injury, facilitating healing and alleviating suffering through a compassionate presence.
Nursing is the glue that holds a patient’s healthcare journey together.

What do nurses do?
Nurses develop a care plan, working collaboratively with physicians, therapists, patients, patients’ families and other team members who focus on treating illness to improve the quality of life. The key unifying characteristic in every role is the skill and drive it takes to be a nurse.
Through long-term monitoring of patients’ behaviour and knowledge-based expertise, nurses are best placed to take an all-encompassing view of a patient’s well-being.

What are the different types of nurses?
In SA, we have four categories of nurses according to the qualifications framework in use:

• Enrolled nursing auxiliaries (ENA);
• Enrolled nurses (EN);
• Registered nurses/midwives (RN/M) (R425);
• Specialist registered nurses/midwives.

There is a new qualification (R171) to become a registered nurse.

Where can I study to become a nurse?
The degree, usually a four-year course, is offered at public universities like the University of Cape Town, Wits University, Unisa, and the University of Pretoria, among others.

You can receive a nursing diploma from a university of technology, like the Durban University of Technology, the Vaal University of Technology, the Tshwane University of Technology and other nursing colleges, such as Ann Latsky Nursing College, Chris Hani Baragwanath Nursing College, SG Lourens Nursing College, Ga- Rankuwa Nursing College and other private colleges.

What high school subjects do I need to become a nurse?
National senior certificate:
• English at level 4: 50-59%;
• Life sciences at level 4: 50-59%;
• Mathematics at level 4: 50-59%, or mathematical literacy at level 5: 60 to 69% and an admission point score of 27 or more (Life Orientation accounts for half the score).

Where do nurses work?
• Hospital work environment: In hospitals, nurses might be assigned to several patients from their unit and will check on patients throughout their shift, administering medications as needed and writing down any symptoms or information about their condition.

• Clinic work environment: In a clinic setting, nurses will often do patient intake, which involves taking vitals and entering basic health information for patients before they see a doctor, administering vaccinations, and delivering medications.

• Laboratory work environment: Nurses in laboratory roles mainly draw blood for various tests and might monitor patients for urine tests or gather other fluid samples. The positions can entail anything from 10 to 40 or more hours weekly, and nurses often need to cover shifts on holidays and weekends. Hospitals, medical clinics, schools, correctional facilities, rehabilitation centres, nursing homes, and home health agencies employ these professionals.

What are a nurse’s duties and responsibilities?
• Nurses are responsible for recognising patients’ symptoms;
• Perform physical exams and health histories before making critical decisions;
• Provide health promotion, counselling and education;
• Administer medications and other personalised interventions;
• Co-ordinate care in collaboration with an array of healthcare professionals to optimise patients’ comfort and families’ understanding and adaptation;
• Provide support and advice to patients;
• Advocate for the health and well-being of patients.

What skills should I have to become a nurse?
You need several skills to become a nurse -communication, leadership, critical thinking, professionalism and ethics skills. These skills comprise the following:
• Respect toward all, a positive attitude, an embrace of collaboration, personal integrity, intrinsic self-discipline, an acute sense of responsibility and personal accountability.
• Other skills include adaptability and patient and family education.

How long does it take to qualify as a nurse?
With our various nursing categories, times to qualify differ.
• ENAs train for one year;
• ENs train for two years;
• RN/M(R425) train for four years;
• Specialist registered nurses/midwives (SRN/M) have train for one to two years post-RN/M training;
• The new degree (R171) registered nurse trains for three years.

What challenges do nurses face?
• Lack of staff;
• Irate patients;
• Language barriers;
• Lack of equipment;
• Lack of medication;
• Lack of infrastructure.

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