Nurses are essential to all health care systems around the world. They ensure that individuals, families and communities achieve optimal health, improving their quality of life. Because of this, nursing is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding career.
Are you trying to decide what you want to do when you’re done with school? Do you know that you want to make a difference in peoples’ lives? Do you enjoy spending your days dealing with people? Do you have an interest in life sciences (or medicine)? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you should consider studying nursing. Being a nurse is a very rewarding career — you get to spend your days helping patients, you can work relatively flexible hours, you don’t take your work home with you and each day is different, bringing its own excitement and challenges.
There are three main types of nurses in South Africa:
- Registered Nurses or Nursing Sisters
They are responsible for the supervision of enrolled and enrolled auxiliary nurses as well as typical nursing responsibilities.
- Enrolled Nurses
They perform limited nursing care.
- Enrolled Nursing Auxiliaries
They perform basic procedures and care for patients on a general level.
According to the South African Nursing Council Statistics, the nursing industry in South Africa is growing. Fast. In the last 10 years, there has been a 35% increase in registered nurses (across all three categories) — that is over 74 000 new nurses registered in South Africa since 2008. Registered nurses have seen an increase of 31%, while enrolled nurses and enrolled nursing auxiliaries have seen increases of 71% and 15% respectively.
As a nurse, you’ll always have a job. According to the South African Health Review 2017, nurses make up the largest single number of healthcare professionals in South Africa. And if you don’t love the idea of working in a hospital, don’t worry, your options don’t end there. As a nurse, you can work in schools, universities, out-patient clinics and pharmacies, government institutions, nursing homes, research labs and many other settings. Nursing is also a financially attractive job, earning between R12 500 and R25 000 a month.
Starting to see the appeal? Carry on reading to find out how to get there.
What Qualification Do I Need to Become a Nurse?
To qualify as a nurse, you can do one of the following:
- a four-year bachelor degree in nursing
- a three-year diploma
- a one-year higher certificate in auxiliary nursing
- one-year postgraduate advanced diploma in nursing and midwifery on top of your degree or diploma.
After you get your qualification, you have to register with the South African Nursing Council (SANC).
You can choose to complete your qualification at a public tertiary institution or at a private nursing college. These private colleges, such as Mediclinic, Netcare Education or Life College, offer the same diplomas or degrees as the universities and universities of technology.
After your Qualification
After you qualify and register with the SANC, you can choose to work in any number of places, but if you want to study further, you can study a masters degree or advanced diploma in nursing and you can register as an advanced practise nurse. There are two main categories of advanced practice nurses:
- Clinical nurse specialists: People who have in-depth and specialised qualifications who work closely and collaboratively with other medical practitioners.
- Advanced nurse practitioner: A person who works in primary care — health assessment and the diagnosis and treatment of ailments. In South Africa, advanced nurse practitioners are often referred to as primary health care nurses and they can work as midwives, psychiatric and paediatric nurses outside of the hospital environment.
Is Nursing Right for you?
Nursing, like all other careers, has satisfying and demanding aspects. You get to spend your days helping others and working with people, and there is plenty of challenges and variety in the work, however, you do trade that for long and taxing hours, spending the day on your feet and working under pressure. But if you enjoy working with other people, have a strong desire to help others and make a difference, consider yourself sympathetic, responsible, dependable and resourceful, work well under pressure and have an interest in the medical sciences, then nursing is definitely a career choice that you should consider.
If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, but maybe looking for a job with a little more authority – you should consider studying to become a clinical associate. This is a new group of healthcare workers who are trained to have the necessary knowledge and developed the necessary skills to assist doctors in district hospitals to improve patient care.