Nurses sharing a joke and laughing Photo/lifebox.org

Exactly 199 years ago, this day, the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was born.

Her contribution to the nursing fraternity that earned her the title ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ in reference to her selfless service of making rounds of a wounded soldier at night in the Crimean War that lasted for two years.

International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday is one of the recognition of her pioneering work in nursing. The day that marks the contribution that nurses make to society gives the world a chance to reflect on the services offered by healthcare givers in times of infirmity.

In Kenya, nurses seem to be on the receiving end of bad luck with attacks from rowdy patients and relatives to the government subjecting them to low pay and unfulfilled promises.

These, however, does not seem to dim the lamp these nurses hold when caring for the sick in different and various shifts in the healthcare centres countrywide. With unshaken unity seen during their industrial actions or when uplift the living standards of other nurses, these healthcare workers are the backbone of the health system in the country.

Business Today talked to local nurses in both the public and private sector who shared their journey as healthcare givers and what motivates them to do better and uphold to the standards set by Ms Nightingale.

Ms Mercy Sigei, a nurse at The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital for 14 years says she admired the nurses while she was a very young girl.

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“When we used to visit the hospital, I really liked the way the nurses handled the sick people with so much care and love. Their work really touched me and I knew that when I grow up I would become a nurse,” she narrates.

And a nurse she became. She says her work gives her self-satisfaction at the end of the day, “I feel that I have made the world a better place than the way it was the previous day through my service as a nurse.”

Her journey as a local nurse has not been flowery as she encounters different challenges every day.

“There are days when I get really disappointed when a patient is really rude and appears unsatisfied with my work, but this does not discourage me, rather it fuels me to do better. As long as I have done my services to my best capability, then I am a happy human being,” says Ms Sigei.

The remuneration in the nursing industry, she says is okay, but something has to be done to make it match the work a nurse does.

“This is why many nurses are leaving the country for Canada, Australia or USA. They are paid very well and it’s driving away from the young workforce, the government should take this into serious considerations,”  she notes.

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Mr Daniel Osoro who hails from a family of healthcare givers has been practising nursing for more than 15 years echoes that passion is the main drive for him into the nursing profession.

“My greatest reward as a nurse is seeing my patients getting better and going home. No amount of money can match the services that I give to the sick,” he says firmly.

Mr Osoro urges that passion, patience, understanding, kindness and positive attitude are the virtues that make a good nurse.

“You need to understand what the patient goes through. Have empathy, and care for them. Then explain to their family members with a sense of humanity,” he adds.

Both, Mr Osoro and Ms Sigei strongly criticise the devolution of the healthcare system to county levels. According to them, nurses at the county levels are demoralised and undermined by the county administrations that do not regard them as professions.

“Their pay is low compared to nurses working under the national government. This can really discourage them as other nurses all over the world are recognised and well compensated by their employers,” says Ms Sigei.

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“Poor management and lack of human resource with minimal understanding on healthcare workers is greatly undermining the health system in county levels,” notes Mr Osoro.

Ms Agatha Emadau, a nurse who would still be in nursing as a career in another life also points to passion as a driving force in her profession.

Being in the private sector, she expresses disappointment on how health workers in private hospital are tarnishing the name of nurses.

“Most of these people who hit the headlines for mistakes are not nurses but hospital attendant or assistant nurses, not a fully trained nurse who is licensed. Otherwise, a fully trained nurse cannot do whatever we hear in the news,” she says.

With five year experience, she looks forward to impacting more lives through healthcare with the best service she can give in her capacity.

Happy International Nurses Day to all the nurses in Kenya and beyond!

 { Read: 5 reasons why private hospitals hire unqualified nurses }

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