“I so want to be a nurse that each day after my school, I go to a clinic nearby my place and serve as a volunteer. People tell me, I should be a doctor, but I want to be a nurse! A career in which I can serve, change and save lives.”
This is a fragile yet determined, young girl, Shahneela’s tale, at the Indus Hotel in Hyderabad, who had come to collect her certificate for completing ‘Youth Development Programme’ – an opportunity for entering the nursing profession. It is a partnership between the Government of Sindh’s Community Development Programme under the Planning and Development Department and the Aga Khan University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Thanks to this partnership, nurses no more have to be simply diploma holders as they can enroll themselves in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) , and can hold a degree in something people don’t even take to be a “good enough” profession so far. It’s about time we bring the featured nursing values of compassionate patient care and front-line, hands-on caring experience under professional ambit.
Not just that, but the fact that nobility around nursing should not be discounted as being any inferior to the doctors. It’s only common to find out that when patients recover after their taxing treatments and are released from the hospital, they remember the comfort, the compassion and the security they received from those irreplaceable fountains of strength and care, Nurses.
Without nurses, there would be no real regard for the holistic care. The compassion and empathy of the nurse is what ensures the quality of life that a patient lives with the even with the most incurable, terminal diseases. While doctors maintain the mechanics of the patient’s life; that only includes attending the patient for a very brief span of time, a nurse makes sure that those mechanics are brought to action, along with the altruistic emotional sustenance she lavishes on her patients that strengthens them to fight back their illness.
Where the role of nurses used to be eclipsed in the past and only a few people would join in, times have perhaps changed in Pakistan. An Intermediate student of the Government Girls Degree College in the impoverished Matiari district, Shahneela would travel 25 kilometers from her home in New Hala to Hyderabad every Sunday for three months to attend the course. And her father, who is a construction contractor by profession, has been fully supportive of his daughter’s endeavors.
However still, when I talked to some of the 126 other participants, most of them wistfully told me that they still could not convince their families about opting for nursing as a profession. “The real challenge is to change the pre-set mindset which says that if you are smart with studies, the only real options you have are either medicine or engineering,” said Fareeda Jatoi of Zubeda .
But for Dr Keith Cash, Dean, AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery, nursing as a profession in Pakistan has progressively evolved; that is there’s far more willingness to join it than before and the teaching standards here are acceptable globally.
“Nursing offers exciting career opportunities as there is a worldwide shortage of graduate nurses, and modern and effective healthcare needs highly qualified nurses if it is to be successful,” he asserted.
According to him, nursing is no longer an underpaid, thankless job. “For instance, just like students of medical colleges, graduates of our four-year nursing bachelors have to undertake a mandatory one-year internship and they are provided a reasonable stipend during this period,” Dr Cash explained.
Speaking in the similar vein he elaborated, “At the conclusion of the five years, students are eligible to licensure as a Registered Nurse. This qualifies them to undertake nursing practice and education in healthcare nationally and internationally.”
For Shahneela, nurses are the heroes of healthcare. She is arduously waiting for the day when her dream to become a nurse will come true, and she returns to her hometown with a nursing degree in hand, to serve her people the best way she can.