Durban woman graduates with master's degree in nursing at 75
University of KwaZulu-Natal graduate Pumla Ntikinca is chuffed that at 75 she still drives and has achieved her master's degree in nursing.
Despite battling osteoarthritis, which left her nearly “handicapped”, Ntikinca, from the Bluff in Durban, was determined to complete her master's degree, which took her five years.
“I'm quite happy and thankful to God,” she told TimesLIVE on Thursday.
Her aim is to use her vast years of experience to help improve neonatal nursing care.
Supervised by Dr Ann Jarvis and Dr Olivia Baloyi, Ntikinca’s study was titled “An exploration of attitudes, knowledge and perceptions on assessment of pain in neonates, by advanced midwifery students at a university in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”.
“My interest in this topic was aroused when I was a nurse educator at a nursing college, teaching neonatology to midwifery students,” she said.
“I realised that nurses in general fall short on the intricacies of specialised care in neonatal inclusive care units (NICUs). I decided to register for a clinical master’s degree in advanced midwifery (maternal and childcare). The study aimed to assess and generate evidence for nursing education and practice.”
Ntikinca, who is also a retired midwife, said: “I was more involved in teaching; I did not work for long in the practical field. But the advantage is when you teach theory, you have to take your students to the field and supervise them.
“This is the time I realised the deficiency in the knowledge when it comes to the care of neonates. I wanted to see how I could improve the curriculum design when it comes to that.”
Her research found that “pain did not receive primary attention as an indication of neonatal discomfort”.
I want to make sure there is better understanding so that we can prevent a child from having some abnormalities or dying from complications.Pumla Ntikinca
“The study also identified a lack of knowledge on the use of assessment tools, with haphazard assessment, and the lack of a scientific approach to pain assessment in the neonate by advanced midwifery students.
“This poses a challenge to the long- and short-term health of the neonate and needs to be recognised in midwifery nursing curricula,” she added.
Ntikinca believes advanced midwives require more “intensive” training in specialised care for newborns.
“Advanced midwives need to know the intricacies of observing and nursing a newborn during the critical stage, that is the first eight days of life, which are very important. All of us don’t have enough knowledge on this,” she said.
“I want to make sure there is better understanding so that we can prevent a child from having some abnormalities or dying from complications.
“There is no intensive teaching in this section. There needs to be improvement and I hope my research will assist.”
She will also be compiling articles to submit to journals on neonatal care.