In this week’s Women’s Month feature, NABEELAH MOHEDEEN speaks to Masoeda McNiel, the acting facility manager at Lansdowne clinic.
There’s much more to being a nurse than giving an immunisation jab or speaking to someone about family planning.
It’s about knowing your patient, getting the story behind the injury, comforting a crying baby or lending an ear to a mom going through a tough time.
Nurses play more than one role in society. They teach, listen, and give love to their patients, some of whom they often form life-long bonds with, says Sister Masoeda Mc Niel.
Sister Mc Niel, 47, grew up in Athlone and attended Bridgeville Primary School, Peak View Secondary School and Bridgetown High School.
She says she’s always loved looking after people and was just 10 when she knew she wanted to become a nurse – being a doctor was her first choice, but her parents couldn’t afford it.
She studied at the Nico Malan Nursing College in the early 1990s and has worked at various hospitals – Groote Schuur, Red Cross, Lentegeur, Mowbray Maternity as well Hanover Park MOU and the Honeyside and Hazendal clinics.
She’s been steering the ship at Lansdowne clinic since mid-June, helping with family planning, syndromic treatment of sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing and management, TB testing and management, baby management, basic antenatal care, cervical smears, and breast examinations, among other duties.
Sister Mc Niel is married and has three daughters.
“I try to be very active in religious and family activities”, she says. “I love swimming and chilling at home. Drives around the mountain and just sitting on the beach and enjoying the view and fresh air on sunny days top my list of other activities. I hate cooking and will commonly find an excuse not to.”
Asked what she loves most about her job, she says: “Working with patients and clients, seeing them improving and being cured and managed well and knowing that my management and nursing make a difference.”
But the job, she adds, also has its downsides, including lots of paperwork, and because nurses are at the front-line they are often the first to get blamed for things they have no control over.
“Nurses are always held accountable for whatever happens, if the food is late the nurse is blamed even though it’s not her field.”
Nursing, just like motherhood, she says, is a 24/7 job.
“As a nurse, you really are never off duty completely. Members of your community or family will often approach you for advice or care after working hours.”