Being a man in a vocation dominated by women has never deterred 28-year-old Eugene Makhavhu from wanting to be the best nurse he could be. With specific interests in the fields of antenatal care and nephrology, he also teaches nursing at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria.
He qualified as a nurse in 2012, but his ability to lead and his passion for his work makes him a devoted teacher.
“As a young man entering nursing, I had no idea what to expect, and whether I would ever grow in a female-dominated profession.”
But the death of a patient during his first class practical in his first year of nursing, was a life-changing experience for him, in which he realised “Although I may not be able to prevent the death of a patient, I learned how to help those who are critical and in palliative care to die with dignity and in comfort around their loved ones,” he says.
As a newly qualified nurse in a community burdened with teen pregnancy, Makhavhu was inspired to work in the antenatal and maternity section. Learning how to deliver babies into the world saw his passion for his work deepen, and he began to see his profession not just as a job but more “as a task from above”.
“The complaints in the media about nurses, and my interaction with student nurses in practice, prompted me to pursue a career in nursing education where I could take a part in grooming a new cadre of nurse that meets the needs of the South African public and is able to attend to the burden of disease that our country faces,” he continues.
In early 2019, Makhavhu was appointed by the Forum of University Nursing Deans in South Africa as a programme manager, involved in securing donor funding for the organisation as well as project planning and management. He is also currently studying towards a PhD in nursing at the Tshwane University of Technology.
“I believe that although I may not change everyone in the world, I can make an impact on my students by inspiring them to become better practitioners to serve the health needs of our communities. I also believe that our aim should not be to prove ourselves to others, but to provide our people with the best possible care, in a safe, empathetic and caring manner.
“The thought of being a man in a female-dominated profession makes me to be more willing to go the extra mile. My profession gives me joy.” – Linda Doke