This is for the nurse haters! We are not who you think we are.
When I completed my High School education (We do not have any graduation for high school in my country of origin), I hoped I would secure a place in the University. However, when the results for the Secondary Certificate of Education exam came out, I had 2 points less than the required minimum for university entry. This meant that I had to apply to Middle-level colleges. This I sought to do.
With my brothers and other friends, we walked to the Divisional Office to fill the forms of application. To be honest, I did not know which path to follow except that I needed to go to college. But I knew in my heart I wanted to be and to do something unique. In my childhood and youth, I looked around and questioned some things, and determined in my heart to bring about some changes or live to proof some things wrong. One such thing was the stigma and stereotype of the nursing profession. I applied to join the nursing college knowing I would get resistance, but I was armed for it! Because I was not sure of being admitted to nursing school, I also applied to a teaching college.
One afternoon, I was resting in the house when a minister of the local Lutheran church walked in and handed some envelopes to my father. The envelopes contained the Letters of admission to the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC), Kisii Campus. I had the admission to study nursing! The other was an invitation or rather an admission to the Meru Teacher Training College (TTC). My father grinned broadly and handed me one letter. The one for the teaching college! He was so happy, his daughter would become a teacher, the presumably noble profession. He had big dreams for me. He thought I would become a teacher and rise in rank to become the headmistress of a primary school and later a school Inspection Officer. Great thoughts, great wishes.
On the other hand, with my curious mind, I wanted to know what was in the other envelope. He casually said, “this is from KMTC. You will not go there.” I wanted to ask why, but in my culture, you do not ask your father or rather your parents why questions. That is deemed as rude and lack of respect. I just humbly requested to see the letter at least. He handed me the letter and continued with plans to take me to the TTC.
A few days after I received the admission letters, I had a little chat with my mother. I was curious to find out why my father had a low opinion of me being a nurse. As I mentioned earlier, my personality has a desire to conquer those things that are seen as odd. I wanted to learn from my mother before I could approach my father with my decision. Mom told me that nursing is not a good profession. I wanted more explanation. In her understanding, she stated at least three stereotypes that circulated in our community; one, that nurses are only wound dressers and I do not want to dress wounds all my life; two, that nurses are immoral and only become sex objects for Doctors, and lastly that they do not get married. I looked at her with amazement and decided then that I would become a nurse to prove everybody wrong.
A week after my discussion with mom, I went to my father. I also asked him if he could hear my part of the coin. I want to say that my father was a very understanding person. He took the time to explain to me the reason he did not think nursing was a good fit for me. He told me he wished for me to get married someday and keep my marriage. He wished for me to be of noble character and he feared that getting into nursing would ruin my and his reputation. I listened intently to my father’s passion for me. At the end of his explanation, he gave me the time to respond. As I responded, I reassured him that I was concerned about my reputation just as much as he did. I told him I had an obligation to God first and that my desire was to live to the moral standards outlined in the Bible. I asked him to trust I would be okay, and he did. Two weeks later I joined KMTC, Kisii Campus and began my journey of becoming a nurse.
And that is how I got labeled, not because of my personality, but because of what I chose to do!
By the way, I overcame the original stereotypes that I heard from my parents! I do not just dress wounds. I take care of complex issues in my patients. I assess and think critically and help plan their care according to individual patient needs. I delivered babies, gave immunizations, done health education, and much more. And no, I am not immoral. I am a woman of integrity and did not, cannot, will not sleep with any physician. I got married and have stayed married, now 24 years! And this is who we are.
To be continued!