Emergency Medical Care (EMC) first-year students at NMMU recently rolled up their sleeves and conduct an outreach programme to provide support in an area of their choice.
After much deliberation, the class of 24 students agreed to support Livingstone Hospital, and more specifically Ward 1A. They divided themselves into groups of four and began working their volunteer shifts for a month over weekends.
“As a profession that primarily focuses on servanthood, our aim as a department is to create a culture of selfless community service that goes beyond our normal working environment.
“For our first year students, many of them entering the profession for the first time, this initiative was a great opportunity to learn what servanthood means,” says EMC programme leader Nico Louw.
During their shifts, the students assisted staff with general patient care such as bathing, feeding, linen changes, and taking and recording patients’ vital signs. The staff welcomed the support and enjoyed teaching the EMC students.
The students were enriched by the experience.
“Being a born free fresh from high school and having to work at one of the busiest hospitals in the province where there are all sort of patients was not an easy task. I honestly did not know what to expect at first,” says student Sandile Biyela.
As a result of the experience, Sandile has new-found respect for the nurses at the hospital.
He personally assisted in washing and dressing patients, and sometimes feeding them.
“The saddest thing I experienced was seeing a dead body for the first time in my life. What made it worse was that I saw and treated the very same patient the day before. It was a bit emotional for me but that experience has made me emotionally stronger, especially because of the comfort I received from my classmates.”
Lamla Makaluza says working at the hospital confirmed her calling.
“Taking my time and helping out at Livingstone Hospital taught me so much about the field I want to work in. It really humbled me.
Lamla also has a new respect for nurses who work 12-hour shifts, helping difficult and demanding patients.
“The shifts were very long, busy and demanding but I would volunteer again anytime to help out,’’ she says.
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Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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