Recognising the important role of nurses

Belinda Langenhoven is a registered trauma and medical professional nurse who specialises in medical emergencies.

Although the life of a nurse demands great sacrifices, late nights and long working hours, seeing sick patients recover keeps two veteran Tygerberg Hospital nurses motivated.

International Nurses Day, on May 12, highlights the important role nurses play.

Sindiswa Tshanda, who is from the small Eastern Cape Town of Elliot, says she was inspired to be a nurse after caring for her sister who fell ill in 2005 and had to be hospitalised.

“I had to take care of her during that time of sickness through feeding or washing her,” she says.

She started studying nursing at UWC in 2010 and is the first nursing graduate in her family.

It wasn’t easy being away from her family during this time, she recalls.

“My greatest sacrifice was that I missed out on the development stages of my son who stayed in Eastern Cape while I was in Cape Town. Throughout my studies, I was staying off campus and had to travel to class and to the hospitals where I was placed. Sometimes I had to rush to class because there were always problems with public transport.”

Then, in 2011, she lost both her father and her niece while preparing for the exams.

“This was during the second year of my studies, but I pulled through and did not give up my dreams in pursuing my goal. When I was placed at the hospitals, I used this experience fruitfully as I was very hands-on in the hospital where I was placed.”

She says working during the pandemic has been one of her greatest challenges as it meant having to adapt to deal with the virus.

Sindiswa Tshanda hopes to specialise in orthopaedics or cardiology.

Tygerberg nurse Belinda Langenhoven says she became a nurse after seeing how hospitals struggled with a shortage of nursing staff. “Also, back in the day, you either became a nurse, teacher or a police officer. So I chose nursing,” she adds.

Ms Langenhoven is also originally from the Eastern Cape and is following in the footsteps of her mother and four other family members who were all registered professional nurses

Asked what advice she has for nurses who struggle to cope with the stress and demanding hours, Ms Langenhoven says, “I always tell the nurses that you only have two hands and you can only do so much, but remember when you leave after a shift, you did what you could for your patients.”