31 Mar How I started my Nursing career
My father brought me the KEMU administration papers this one afternoon, just those lazy afternoons after you’ve had your lunch, done the dishes and then enjoying a movie. I paused the movie, my dad asked me to fill in the forms, when I was at the part of what course would you like to enroll’?. I said Nursing! Out loud, I had always wanted to be a doctor, infact nurse had never crossed my mind, I would always play doctor. I remember one time my cat came home bleeding with a deep cut, some inhumane person had just cut him with a panga on the head, my poor cat could not stand still, I could tell he was in so much pain. I was already in bed, but mom called me and told me to go see my cat, when I saw him and he whimpered, my heart was in pieces, and my tears so bitter, I couldn’t believe someone would do that to him, instead of just scaring him away, whoever did that, I have never forgiven them. I nursed that cat to its recovery, till the wound was dry, I used herbal medicines and some of the antiseptic and drugs mom had in the cupboard. Everyday I cleaned and applied medicine and made sure he ate well. I could communicate to my cats so when he tried to leave the compound I commanded it to come back, it didn’t go to the bushes untill it was healed.
Standing beside me, my dad didn’t ask me if I was sure, he saw that I was and told me ‘ okay write it down’. I wasn’t sure so I asked, can I enroll for degree or I have to start with diploma? My dad said ‘ with the marks you have on your exam, you can start with a degree’. So I enrolled for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Kenya Methodist University.
On September 11 2011, dad, mom my uncle and I loaded my dad’s car with my bags and headed to Meru. I was so anxious I wasn’t talking, kept quiet at the back left of my dad’s car looking out of the window; dad noticed and asked if I was worried, I lied and told him I was okay. In my head I was thinking of what my next chapter would be, what does nursing entail really, how will be my social life? I had so many questions, others I answered myself in my head, planning how I will handle everything.
The university was gorgeous, from the gates, beautiful tarmacked road towards the campus and beside it on both sides were beautiful flowers, the compound was so green, all kinds of flowers blooming, white tall buildings, there was even a lake! Man made but still, there it was with small fish swimming and vast, you could see how it was captivating by standing on the bridge, a wooden sculptured one, standing on it felt like I was on the London bridge. Later I came to learn that all my classes were at the building far end of the lake, so that would be my view of everyday. Being human though, I got used to seeing the beautiful views of the campus in time and I was no longer captivated, saw everything just as normal, whereas any new person who came to the campus, their mouths fell wide open.
I got through the whole registration process and mom left when I had settled in the dormitories. They were different from the highschool dormitories; one room was shared by 4 people each with their own closet and as you progressed in years you could get a room of two people containing a bathroom inside. I remember in my Fourth year I had my own self contained room. The boys dormitories were just next, no walls separating them but no one ever crossed to the other side, it was a norm known to everyone. People talked on top of the staircase and once done each person took the steps towards their dorms. I met my best friend, Ruth on that first day, as soon as I settled in my dorm, I decided to see who was on the room opposite to mine, Ruth was the one who welcomed me, we became friends from then onwards. The following day Marjorie joined Ruth in her room , she was also doing BsCN, we be came friends instantly, atleast I had someone we can hustle through the course together. I took like a week before I connected with my roommates who came out to be the most spontaneous, faboulous, exciting and amazing friends; all of us girls at the opposite rooms became a gang of friends and we pushed through campus life together, I have very good and memorable moments with them.
I enrolled for my classes the next day, it was tidious, finding out which basic subjects I was supposed to take and I had to add and drop some of the courses, I met most of the students who were going to be be my classmates through that process. We met with our head of department who welcomed us to the course and said she expected us to be the best nurses in the country; she was friendly and inspiring, she gave you a speech as she was signing your registration documents.
My first classes were, computer studies, sociology, and other introductory subjects, not at all what I expected, I thought I was going to study medicine and hospital things to tell you the truth I didn’t know what I expected; the only subject that involved nursing that semesty was fundamentals of nursing.
As semesters went by, subjects became tougher, pharmacology, physiology, anatomy they were actually divided in two or three like; pharmacology 1, pharmacology II, physiology I&II, Anatomy I,II&III. Another semester I had to do biochemistry, this was a tough one, came biochemistry II, I was sweating any time I entered that class; I never used to understand a lot of things, I saw charts and diagrams, I saw, carbon and other molecules symbols, I saw cycles but honestly not comprehending. Worst of all, the lecturer was an Indian man, a short guy who I couldn’t tell what he was saying, I would see people raising their hands and wonder, did he ask a question? How did they hear him and how the hell do they know the answers. Biochem Cat 1 that’s how we called the random exams in between the semester, I got 4/30, the next cat I got 9/30. If I was to pass that unit on that term I had to do something, and studying was out of the question, I got nothing. So biochemistry end of semester exam I sat with one of the students who raised their hands and copied their answers, I couldn’t imagine doing a retake of that unit, so I cheated.
Most of the other units I didn’t have much problem with them, all I had to do was study. If I wasn’t in class, in the hostels either Sleeping, watching movies or gossiping with my friends, I was always there in the library. The assignments, and the random tests made people stay in the library for long. Nursing books were huge, compared with other courses books, they would see our books and go ‘woah!’. We studied the human body, it’s physiology, it’s parts and what they do. We learnt about drugs, medication, what diseases they treat, how they work, their dosage, their side effects; when I passed pharmacology it was a celebration, one of the toughest topics. We were taught math, computers, how to conduct business, Christian values, our culture’s, the physiology of people and how to socialize. We learn about the large diseases in the world like Hiv, Cancers, Viral diseases, Bacterial diseases, chronic conditions, acute ones like Myocardial infarction, cerebral hemorrhage, acute kidney injury, and the common diseases like malaria, TB, including all kinds of injuries. Basically I had alot to study am hence frequent library hours. After dinner in the dining hall with my friends, that’s when I used to go and study.
The dining hall had its moments, good food the university was providing good stuff, gossips and the girl talks with my friends, chatting up with friends, eye contacts with crushes hehe.
The most incredible thing but also scary was when we went for our clinical experiences. There were semesters for learning theory and others for practicing. We went rounds in medical, surgical, maternity and reproduction, pediatric, renal, theatre, psychiatry units and also had to learn how to manage a hospital. They were awesome learning how to be a nurse, doing all the work. You learn to take care of patients, how to give them the medications, we were given duties by the matrons and worked together with a mentor to teach you how to nurse the patient. I loved working, meeting so many people that needed your help, others with big stories. The scary times were when our lectures came to do assessments of our nursing skills. The lecturer would be joined by the nurse in charge of the current unit and observe you attend to your patients, mostly they would observe you with one patient. You were to do a procedure according to your plan of care for the patient, then they would observe you in each step of the procedure, observe of you have the right tools and equipment, the sterility of the procedure area, how you interact with your patient keeping him informed of the procedure you were doing, and how it improves their health, how you perform your procedure from washing your hands at the beginning to washing your hands at the end of the procedure. After that we had a session where the two assessors would ask you questions relating the unit you were in. would grade you, if you got 75% and above you had good nursing skills and if less than that, you fail that unit. They ask you the theory of the unit and how you apply it in practice, about the conditions in that unit and how you manage them, about the flow of work and assess you in all fundamentals of nursing.
The fun part of it was going to different areas to practice, like maternity we went to nyeri, medical we went to maua meru, We went into the villages for community health, the villagers treated us like royalty, ENT experience was in Kenyatta National Hospital, including other cool places.
I first got paid for my services during my internship in Meru, we were paid good money too. I rented out my first house on my own, before I had always stayed with my friends. I loved having money. I ate good food, bought all types of food from restaurants, I bought fashionable clothes, stereo system and a TV, I bought a sofa and a comfy bed, I was living life, I travelled to and Flo to visit my friends and my family. At that time my nephew had just been born and I loved going to Nairobi on weekends to see him, I had a lot of money in the bank by the end of that year so when my dear friend invited me to visit Mombasa, I didn’t hesitate. She has been my bff since we were young kids.
I came fell in love with the city, I could see a future here, so my bff helped me drop CVs in all the hospitals in the city. My first job as a locum was in a small hospital called Seaside, I went to drop my CV and the manager interviewed me right there and then, I was so nervous, it was my first interview, i wasn’t prepared, I didnt know if I was going to be interviewed, I got the job. I would go either morning or afternoon shift and get 500 note after the shift, sometimes I would be called for the whole day shift and I got 1000 shillings. Two weeks had gone by when I was called by the Matron of Mewa hospital, she asked if I was available for locum the following afternoon and I said I would be there. I had my uniform in my bag and the Matron oriented me to my work and expectations. She explained I would be on locum basis but I was to paid after two weeks of work not daily like before, after two weeks I would go to the cashier’s office and collect my money. A half day shift was paying 1100, so if I did a whole day shift I would get 2200. In two weeks that was good money considering I was staying with my rich bff, I had no expenses or rent to pay. My bff used to take me to all the cool places, restaurants, historical sites, road trips with her friends whom she introduced me to, it was a good way to start life, am thankful.
I can honestly say, Mewa was the basis of my nursing career, my first real working job under no supervision, apart from the Matron who was always on everybody’s neck. I was allocated patients, nursed them, gave them emergency care if an emergency occured, dealt with people dying also, walked up and down making sure all the care planned for the patients was given, interacted with all types of consultants, it was not as easy as it seemed when I was training.
The Matron took an interest in mentoring me, she said she saw a great nurse in me. Being her mentee was tough, she was a harsh woman, all stuff felt that she was so cruel and not empathetic. When she came to your ward for the report of the patients, you knew either you were going home late, you were gonna cry or you were going to write an incidence report. People used to see her pass their ward and praise God. She then introduced night covering nurses, who managed the whole hospital at night and gave her the report in the morning, this was a huge relief, now only one person faced her wrath but she still went around the wards talking to patients and looking for any mistakes. She started by giving me extra duties, when an incharge was on leave I was put to hold the position on her behalf, I was incharge of paediatric, maternity, private ward, I loved it. One time she left me incharge in her office as she went out for business meetings. I was then promoted to be one of the nurse covering, it was tough especially in the morning when she bombarded me with questions and corrections of how I should have handled certain issues. I didn’t hate it though, I was gaining too much experience, and I got respect from my colleagues and the consultants, doctors trusted me with their patients. One day she Matron called me in her office and told me that the hospital was collaborating with an university to open a nursing school; she wanted me to be a lecturer in that school. I went to meetings with the managers, we planned how the building was going to be designed, how the classes would be arranged, we had meetings about the curriculum, I remember how we discussed the topics and how were to teach them, we made the schemes of work, it was surreal, I felt so important.