Dr Patience Ntshani is passionate about her job of making sure people make it to the other side alive. Picture: Supplied
Dr Patience Ntshani is passionate about her job of making sure people make it to the other side alive. Picture: Supplied

Dr Pashy, Limpopo's finest doctor, is married to medicine

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Aug 8, 2019

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From humble beginnings in rural Limpopo, anaesthesiologist Dr Patience Ntshani, affectionately known as Dr Pashy, has worked her way into the hearts of her patients - and to the top.

Ntshani was born in Botlokwa to a family which was strong in its faith and deeply rooted in family and community values.

“My parents had four children to feed, so we did not have much, but we did the best with what little we had,” said Ntshani.

The first-born, Ntshani said her teacher parents valued education and this principle inspired the children to excel, be disciplined and work hard in school.

“Many people have contributed to my journey, especially my selfless mother and my supportive family,” she said.

Ntshani matriculated with a 98% maths distinction from Harry Oppenheimer Agricultural High School in Limburg, about 47km north of Mokopane. The whizz-kid then proceeded to Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria North, to study for a Bachelor of Medicine degree followed by a diploma in anaesthesiology from The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa.

It was during her time as a junior doctor when Ntshani discovered that anaesthesiology was a “hidden gem.”

“I can honestly say that anaesthesiology is my calling and it has shaped many of my dreams and aspirations,” she said.

The duties of an anaesthesiologist include putting patients to sleep prior to surgery and monitoring their vitals during the operation. The job also entails making sure that patients are pain-free and relaxed during operations and ensuring that they make it through to the other side alive.

Ntshani said these duties immediately appealed to her.

“Without my presence in an operating theatre, the surgeons would not be able to perform lifesaving procedures safely,” she said.

Anaesthesiology is a field dominated by men and white doctors, according to Ntshani and this has been a challenge for her as a black female anaesthesiologist.

“I have had to work five times as hard just to be taken seriously.”

However, she does not see this challenge as something she cannot overcome.

“To me, when someone underestimates me, they are fuelling my resolve to go out there and be better until I am able to walk into any room without needing an introduction,” she said.

Recently, Ntshani completed a Master of Medicine degree.

However, when she takes off her white her lab coat, the 36-year-old specialist is a rural girl.

“I always tell the anecdote about how I like to walk barefoot at the house, and that really captures the simplicity of who I am,” she said.

The mother and wife said she is a nurturer by nature, and she takes pleasure in caring for everyone around her.

Ntshani added that she was married to medicine but cheated with fashion.

The doctor is passionate about fashion as a means for self-expression and she found it very enjoyable.

“I attend a fair amount of fashion shows. I also enjoy socialising, so I can be found attending various events with my circle of friends,” she said.

The doctor/fashionista is also a globe-trotter having travelled to places such as Singapore, London and Thailand.

“Travel is another one of my passions and I am always planning my next trip. I usually go with my husband and my son and we use this as a time to reconnect and catch up,” she said.

Ntshani’s advice to young doctors who want to specialise was that they should not pursue specialisation if they cannot imagine doing the job for the rest of their lives.

“When I receive a call at 3am for an urgent surgery, I don’t respond begrudgingly because there is honestly nowhere else I would rather be.

“When people’s lives are hanging in the balance, we cannot operate from the wrong mindset,” she said. 

@Chulu_M

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