Nurse Carol Arnold checks a drip of a patient. Photo by Sam Clark, CA and CT Medical.
Nurse Carol Arnold checks a drip of a patient. Photo by Sam Clark, CA and CT Medical.

Here is what you need to know if you’re keen on becoming a nurse

By MaryAnne Isaac Time of article published Jun 9, 2021

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Durban - The pandemic has highlighted the value of our healthcare workers and the significant role they play in our country’s healthcare system.

Nursing is an essential occupation, and in South Africa, both public and private medical institutions are in dire need of more nurses. More nurses would mean more efficient, better run and quality care in all medical facilities.

If you want to pursue a career in nursing, you would require an immense amount of dedication to learning, caring, patience and a thick skin. Nurses are the backbone of the medical fraternity, and without them – surgical operations would take longer, doctors in hospitals will be overwhelmed and patients won’t be attended to timeously. Whether it’s at a big hospital or a small clinic – everyone needs a nurse.

The medical fraternity needs nurses who are passionate about people and who desire to nurse the sick back to good health – anything less would make one unhappy and bad at their job.

If you are keen and meet the soft skill requirements, then it’s just a matter of choosing the right subjects in school and completing your post-matric studies.

A matric pass is important if you are applying for an entry-level nursing course and requires an above 50% pass in school subjects such as life sciences (biology), English, maths (pure or literacy) and life orientation.

Once you attain your qualification, you must register with SANC (South Africa Nursing Council).

Career website Fundi Connect says that to qualify as a nurse, there are four options for you to pursue. These are:

  • 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.

Higher certificate in auxiliary nursing

A one-year qualification that is aimed to equip you with skills that you will need to provide basic nursing care to individuals while working under the supervision of a nurse who holds a national diploma or degree. After completing your higher certificate, you will be able to register as an enrolled nursing auxiliary.

This course will teach you how to apply your knowledge of the theory, the practice of basic nursing and how to assess, plan, implement and evaluate basic nursing care for individuals and groups.

Diploma in nursing

This is a three-year course that consists of practical and theoretical work. Once completed, you are able to work as a registered staff nurse or enrolled nurse and during this course, you will cover similar work to what you would cover in the Bcur degree. The course is shorter than a BCur, and you will learn how to provide nursing care, apply your knowledge in the nursing practice, diagnose and treat minor illnesses and provide reproductive health care.

Bachelor degree in nursing sciences (BCur)

This degree consists of both a compulsory practical clinical training component and a theoretical component. Once you have completed a BCur or equivalent, you can register with SANC. The Bcur usually prepares you in four specific fields:

  • General nursing (working in hospitals and medical practices);
  • Community nursing;
  • Psychiatric nursing; and
  • Midwifery (caring for mothers and babies).

This course will have a practical component, and you will learn how to do the kind of practical work you will need for when you become a nurse. The theory component comprises what it is to be a nurse and studies in medical, biological and natural sciences, psychological and social sciences, and pharmacology. This will equip you with vital medical knowledge.

Postgraduate Advanced Diploma in nursing

This course helps you specialise as a nurse or midwife or accoucheur, and is designed to strengthen and deepen your knowledge in nursing and midwifery. It is a 12-month course and can only be completed after you have received a diploma or degree in nursing.

This course is mostly theoretical, and the qualification will also be helpful if you wish to pursue a career in nursing management. This is the postgraduate course for an individual who has a diploma in nursing and will have to complete in order to work as a nursing sister in South African Hospitals.

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