Nurse proves you're never too old to study - even at 75
Cape Town - Aged 75, Master’s in Nursing graduate Pumla Ntikinca is proof that age is just a number.
After more than 30 years of teaching, the academic leader in the discipline of nursing decided that despite ill health she would complete a Clinical Master’s degree in Advanced Midwifery (maternal and childcare) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal that she had started in 2010.
“I had passed all my coursework but then due to ill health I was unable to continue. When I started feeling better recently I decided to finish.
“I have arthritis so I could not type but my daughter helped me by doing all the typing,” she said.
The Durban-based mother of three and grandmother of eight’s study was titled “An exploration of attitudes, knowledge and perceptions on assessment of pain in neonates by advanced midwifery students at a university in KwaZulu-Natal”, supervised by Drs Ann Jarvis and Olivia Baloyi.
“My interest in this topic was aroused when I was a nurse educator at a nursing college, teaching Neonatology to midwifery students,” she said.
“I realised that nurses in general fall short on the intricacies of specialised care in Neonatal Inclusive Care Units (NICUs). Neonatal (denotes) newborn between the age day 1 to day 28.
“Nurses must know before the baby is born what complications are likely to occur in the baby. We as midwives concentrate on the baby in front of us and disregard what could be happening physiologically in the baby.
“The advanced midwife is as good as a physician and they must work together as consultants in order to be able to do this observation and report any signs of damage.
“If neglected and the midwife does not notice the signs, this will be reflected in how the child performs at school and throughout life.”
She said pain did not receive primary attention as an indication of neonatal discomfort.
The study also identified a lack of knowledge on the use of assessment tools, with haphazard assessment, and the lack of a scientific approach to pain assessment in the neonate by advanced midwifery students.
Ntikinca’s study aimed to assess and generate evidence for nursing education and practice.
Hailing from the small town of Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape, Ntikinca said she grew up in a Christian family where advancing in education was the norm.
“My mother and father were qualified teachers and my father received an honorary degree from the University of Fort Hare at his retirement.
“I can proudly say that I come from a family of professionals, graduates and academics, both on the maternal and paternal side. My children, nieces and nephews also fall within these categories.”