Pretoria - While the world celebrated International Nurses Day on Friday, a nurse with a passion for assisting children on their path to recovery spoke about his challenges, coupled with the joy the profession brings to him.
“Nursing must be from your heart; it is challenging, and it can be emotional, but it is an extremely rewarding career that is about so much more than just the money,” said Sibusiso Xhakaza, 33, a highly skilled member of the paediatric ICU team at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital in Midrand.
According to him, to be a nurse, you need to have a passion for humanity and be gentle and strong when you are caring for someone who is fragile and frail, like the young children they look after in the paediatric ICU.
“These tiny humans give us purpose, and even when their immune systems are weak, they have such strength that it inspires us.”
From a rural village to a nursing professional, Xhakaza comes from rural Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. He studied nursing at the Pietermaritzburg DUT campus before becoming a full-time maternity nurse.
“As I explored more about nursing, I became drawn to the paediatric ICU. It is a very specialised environment, and you need the humility to always be learning from your team and sharing your knowledge so we can all grow from our experience and do the best for our little patients.”
Teamwork is critical, he said, because everyone involved brings different strengths.
“Together, our combined strengths make us a formidable team. Our patients and their parents become part of our paediatric ICU family too.”
He said it is understandably stressful for parents, but the staff offer them support to help alleviate their anxiety.
“We explain how we are caring for their child and not to be alarmed by the lights and beeping of the ICU machines.
“They learn to trust us and feel safe with what we are doing for their precious little ones.”
A family whose child was recently cared for in the paediatric ICU at Netcare Waterfall City explained the difference caring nursing made to their family’s experience.
“The nurses were very friendly towards us and gave us updates on how our child was doing,” the family, who do not want to be named, said.
They said when their infant son was moved to another big oscillating machine, they were confused as to whether he was getting worse or better, but Sibusiso was very kind and came to them and explained everything.
“He assured us that our son was getting the best care possible, and we left the hospital feeling much better knowing what was happening. Overall, we are very happy with the care our son received from the nurses, not just one but all the nurses that took care of him.”
Paediatric intensivist, Dr Palesa Monyake, praised the dedication of the paediatric ICU team. “The nurses are absolutely amazing, and the team goes above and beyond the call of duty time and again.
“We update each other on each patient, sometimes minute by minute, and have such strong systems in place that our teamwork takes caring for our patients to an almost intuitive level.”