Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I am an intensive care nurse at Kampala Hospital. I joined the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in 2017 after completing an internship at Mulago National Referral Hospital. I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Bishop Stuart University and I am currently pursuing a Master of Health Services Research at Makerere University. I serve as the Deputy Executive Secretary for the Association of Graduate Nurses and Midwives of Uganda. This platform provides us with an opportunity to discuss issues that affect nurses, the gaps that exist in the profession, and how we can bridge the gaps and improve our work experiences.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
I grew up listening to my mother’s recollection of how I sustained severe burns at nine months old. She said I had been left by myself near the dining table which had a jug of hot porridge on it. I tried to support myself in standing up by pulling the tablecloth. The porridge spilt all over me leaving me with severe burns. My mother said, I was rushed to Karoli Lwanga Hospital-Nyakibale where I spent three months being nursed back to health. This was a critical time and my parents were worried that I would not survive.
Growing up, I constantly heard stories of how doctors and nurses had performed magic to keep me alive. According to my mother, nurses are angels and her prayer was that I would grow up and join the profession and save a child like I was saved from the snares of burns. This inspired me to pursue nursing.
I love being a nurse because it’s fulfilling to see ailing people regain strength, smile again, and make plans for the future after caring for them.
What is your most memorable moment as a nurse?
Last year, I cared for a patient who had undergone multiple surgeries. He had been operated on both legs, arms, the neck, and had also had his ruptured diaphragm repaired. The rupture of the diaphragm had caused the upper part of the liver to go through the diaphragm into the thorax.
After his operation, he stayed in the ICU, but during the night his condition deteriorated. The intensivist who was on duty and I worked together to keep the patient alive through the night. Night hours are very critical in a patient’s life, especially between 2 and 4 a.m., because that is when the body rests. If a patient is critically ill and not well monitored during this time, life could be lost. The patient survived through the night, stabilized, and was transferred to the general ward for continuity of care.
Every time I see a patient monitor, memories of that patient’s rhythm dropping come to mind. It was scary thinking that we would lose him but were very delighted that we were able to save his life. It is such moments that give me satisfaction and pride in being a nurse.
What is the role of nurses in strengthening emergency and critical care in Uganda?
Nurses are first responders and the first point of contact for patients in hospital settings. However, we face several barriers in delivering quality emergency care. This includes inadequate staffing ratios and limited guidelines and training in emergency response.
Nurses are resourceful and innovative and should be part of the process of developing guidelines so that we have structures and emergency response measures tailored to our local hospital settings. If nurses are empowered with the right tools, equipment, and training, deaths resulting from treatable emergencies will be significantly reduced.
How can the global community better support nurses so that they can deliver quality care and effectively respond to pandemics such as COVID-19?
This is a new disease and I understand that medical researchers are working round the clock to find out more about it. Equipping all nurses with relevant up-to-date information and skills should be paramount. Additionally, nurses need adequate and reliable personal protective equipment so that they are able to deliver care while being protected from contracting Covid-19.
It is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. What do you want people to know about nurses and midwives?
Nursing and midwifery has advanced over the years from a vocation to profession. However, this is not well-evidenced in Uganda especially when it comes to leadership. We do not have a clear policy in place to advance the profession’s cause so that nurses obtain the status they deserve. In Uganda, most in charges of Health Centre IIs and IIIs are nurses and they are doing a commendable job. This ought to be replicated at the national level. Nurses can be excellent decision makers, advocates, and policy makers when given an opportunity.
*Photo Credit: Pius Gyagenda for Seed Global Health