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Photo Credit: Seed Global Health

Jannipher Nambalirwa Mateega: Nursing Is a Call to Service

Story By: Seed Global Health   |   August 5, 2020     |    Uganda,

Jannipher Nambalirwa Mateega: Nursing Is a Call to Service

Jannipher Nambalirwa Mateega

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a nurse, mother, entrepreneur, and farmer. I work as a tutor at Mengo School of Nursing and Midwifery and I am currently pursuing a Master in Nursing at Uganda Christian University. I also run Home Nurse Uganda, a company that provides nursing services to clients in their homes. I am passionate about sports especially volleyball, table tennis, and lawn tennis. This may seem like a lot, but over the years, I have learnt the discipline of managing time. 

What inspired you to become a nurse?

I hadn’t thought of nursing as a career which is why I first pursued an accounting diploma. However, everyone I knew saw a nurse in me. My siblings, my parents, and later my husband often told me that I would make a great nurse. One evening my husband came home with application forms from Nsambya Nursing School. I applied and was admitted.

From the first class attended, I realized that there was something special about nursing. This feeling was validated when I did my first hospital ward round with teaching instructors. I enjoyed talking to patients and always looked forward to going back. The more nursing education and experience I have gained, the more I have fallen in love with the profession.

What do you enjoy the most about being a nurse?

Nursing has given me an opportunity to give hope to and encourage people and restore smiles to their faces. 

In 2009, I had a rare encounter, with a patient who had HIV and pneumonia, that will forever be etched in my memory. Patients in such a condition usually have a completely weakened immune system. As I was doing my ward rounds, I got to his bed and engaged him in a conversation. 

His dying wish was to have a priest present so he could have confession and get married. He had barely finished talking when he collapsed. I resuscitated him and put him on oxygen. He was still eager to talk so I asked him to describe his experience during the few minutes he was unconscious. He said it was like being stuck in a small room over a noisy bar with blaring music and people talking loudly, but you are unable to join them. 

I prayed with him as he had requested. He thanked me for helping him find peace in his heart. He died shortly after that. All this happened in less than 30 minutes. It was a very hard and surreal experience. 

This and several other experiences continue to validate my purpose and choice of career. I love that my words and counseling give patients hope and keeps them motivated which often helps in healing and recovery. 

As a tutor, I set aside time to counsel and advise nursing students. It gives me great joy to hear how my advice has inspired them to improve their skills, advocate for patients, and strive for excellence in their jobs.

Tell us about the role that nurses play in delivering care from the home to the hospital.

Nurses are constantly thinking about how to lessen their patient’s pain and restore their health. However, nurses do not only treat patients. They also educate them on how to prevent diseases and make informed decisions about their health. Every encounter with a patient is an opportunity for health promotion and education.

What advice would you give a nurse or a midwife who wants to advocate for themselves and the profession but feels ill-equipped for the task?

Information is power. It’s important for one to be knowledgeable about a subject before speaking out on it. Armed with passion and relevant information, a nurse can advocate not only for herself but also for her peers. 

Invest in professional development and growth. There are always developments in nursing from cutting edge technology to new techniques on how to improve patient experiences. All this knowledge can be attained through reading and engaging with experts and more experienced people in the field. Additionally, there are opportunities to learn, connect, and network at conferences and trainings. 

Always look at the big picture. It is from being outside the hospital wards, meeting other professionals that nurses can get inspired to further their education and pursue all their other passions. It all starts with adopting an open mindset and being determined to grow. The more you learn about nursing, the more you become confident in speaking up and advocating for it.

It is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. What does that mean to you, as a nurse, and to the profession as a whole?

Nursing is a call to service, going the extra mile for your patients. Nurses are usually at the front line of patient care. This can be risky at times, for example with the COVID-19 response. This pandemic has clearly shown how much nurses sacrifice their lives for the good of others. While everyone has retreated in fear of the virus, nurses are advancing to give a helping hand. They are the first responders and some have unfortunately lost their lives. There is no confirmed treatment for the disease but there are registered recoveries. This is evidence of strong nursing and caring skills.

Nurses need to be supported to achieve their full potential.