Meet Patience, SA's most caring nurse
Whether it's in taxis or at church services, nurse Patience Shipalane never passes up the opportunity to give medical advice or a helping hand.
She has been named as the Democratic Nursing Association of SA's (Denosa's) "most caring nurse of the year".
"She enjoys talking to the people in public places like taxi ranks, malls and churches about health-related topics. The people that she encounters every day feel freer, and they are more open to asking any question in the informal settings than they would in the formal clinic settings," Denosa said of Shipalane.
During these interactions, she has learnt of cases of parental neglect, child abuse, severe and extreme poverty, and people not having legal documents such as birth certificates.
"These are challenges that no one would ever know about unless they are community health workers who go where the people live," Denosa said.
Nurses in the public sector often face criticism, but Shipalane says it's all about taking it in one's stride and following the meaning of her name, Patience.
"Your patient always comes first. Respect them and have a 'good ear' for them. Do not be judgmental and be approachable,” said Shipalane, who is from the Western Cape.
She scooped the award after being nominated by her colleagues, managers, patients and former patients.
"I don't know what I did differently from the other nominees but I know I have been committed and have a great love for my job," said Shipalane, who has more than 14 years' experience.
But she admits the job is not without difficulties.
"There is a problem of a lack of training. I am doing the job but, as a junior nurse, I cannot offer all the service to my patients, such as pap smears. All I can do is refer a case to the clinics," she said, explaining that she does house calls and door-to-door visits.
Patients who do not always understand the process of public facilities are also a challenge.
"Some patients are rude, but despite that, you need to remain calm, listen and explain," Shipalane said.
"Shortages of the staff in our facilities is also something else. But nursing, as a profession, is not bad at all. I am doing something that I love and there is no job that doesn’t come with challenges."
She prefers to work with the public directly, rather than being based at a clinic or hospital.
Besides her home visits, she also services more than 56 creches in Thembalethu on the Garden Route and 136 in the George district where, twice a month, she administers vitamins, deworming treatments and immunisation.
"When you go to where people are to assist them, it becomes more personal," she said.