Pumla Ntikinca, 75, graduated with a Master’s degree in nursing. Picture: Supplied
Pumla Ntikinca, 75, graduated with a Master’s degree in nursing. Picture: Supplied

75-year-old Durban woman graduates with Master’s degree

By Jolene Marriah-Maharaj Time of article published Oct 28, 2020

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Durban - A 75-year-old Durban woman has graduated with her Master’s degree in nursing.

In a statement, UKZN described Pumla Ntikinca’s achievement as “outstanding proof that age is just a number”.

Her 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, South Africa”.

“My interest in this topic was aroused when I was a nurse educator at a nursing college, teaching neonatology to midwifery students.

“I realised that nurses in general fall short on the intricacies of specialised care in Neonatal Inclusive Care Units (NICUs). I decided to register for a Clinical Master’s degree in Advanced Midwifery (Maternal and Childcare). The study aimed to assess and generate evidence for nursing education and practice.”

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.

“This poses a challenge to the long- and short-term health of the neonate and needs to be recognised in midwifery nursing curricula,” she added.

Ntikica’s future plans include completing a book that she has started writing which reflects on her growing up and development to womanhood. She will also be compiling articles to submit to journals on neonatal care.

Hailing from the small town of Mt Frere in the Eastern Cape, Ntikinca said her relationship with UKZN dates back to the time when she was a tutor at the university.

“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.”

Academic leader in the Discipline of Nursing, Fikile Mtshali, said that Ntikinca’s achievements bear testimony to the fact that being resilient, driven and determined can help one to achieve one’s life goal.


Three categories emerged from the content analysis of the data: the elimination process, restricted assessment and non-standardised approaches.

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