… IUM Dean of the Health Sciences Faculty shares her passion
WHEN it came to choosing a profession, while she was growing up as a young girl on a farm in Lüderitz, Professor Agnes van Dyk (AVD) did not look far for inspiration.
Her grandmother, who was a well-known nurse in her community, had stirred her interest in healthcare. She too wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, through healthcare delivery.
Although nursing was considered a little difficult, given the education and training involved, that did not deter her.
She worked hard on her academic pursuits, until she obtained a Doctorate Degree in Nursing Science (Nursing Education) through the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 1978.
Today, as Dean of the Health Sciences Faculty at the International University of Management (IUM), Professor Van Dyk shares with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN) that she knew as a little girl that she wanted to be a nurse, just like her grandmother.
The professor also spoke about her role at IUM, which includes instilling love and compassion in the nursing students under her wing, who will very soon be caring for Namibian patients.
MN: Give us a snapshot of who you are.
AVD: I was born in Keetmanshoop and grew up on a farm in the far south Lüderitz district.
MN: Briefly tell us about your upbringing. Would you say that it played a role in who you have become today?
AVD: My upbringing played a role. I come from a big family and we were taught very clear principles and values of caring and respect, as well as interrelationship skills, to name a few. My late parents were role models in their own respective ways.
MN: Tell us a bit about your family life. Also, how do you balance your roles as a professional and family woman?
AVD: I am a widow, with a son and a granddaughter. My family is very important to me and also my support system. I have been working and studying all my life and learned early enough how to balance my role as a mother, wife and career woman. There were many sacrifices I had to make, but looking back today, it was all worth it.
MN: Tell us about your education and career in the health field.
AVD: I did my basic nursing education in Windhoek in the 1960s. I then went on to pursue my Midwifery Training and Education at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Johannesburg. After that, I returned to Namibia, got married and started practicing as a registered nurse and midwife.
I started with my academic career in nursing education and obtained my Doctorate Degree in Nursing Science (Nursing Education) in 1978. All my academic studies were on a distance education approach, through the University of South Africa (UNISA).
MN: What triggered your interest in the field?
AVD: What triggered my interest in the health field was my one grandmother, who was also a nurse. The family always told us how she diagnosed the sick people in the community and how she cared for them. This made an impression on me.
MN: Reports suggest that health professionals have lost compassion towards patients. As dean, what are you doing to instil that compassion, love and care in the students that will go out to care for Namibians?
AVD: Care and compassion are very important concepts for nursing, in order to be responsive to the needs of society. Nursing care must be based on humane values, and an unqualified concern for the welfare of others. As the Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at the International University of Management (IUM), I lead a team of lecturers in the field of nursing, and we make it our mission to teach students caring values, commitment, compassion, conscience, confidence and competence. These are important concepts in the curriculum of a student nurse. We hope that when we deliver them to the healthcare industry, at the end of their training and education, which is after four years, that they will be the role models to lead the student nurses in applying these concepts during their practical sessions. The first cohorts of the Bachelor Degree in Nursing Honours are in their final year. By next year, they will be joining the health sector, as qualified nurses.
MN: How do the courses offered at IUM fulfil the practical expectations of the sector?
AVD: At this moment the faculty offers the Bachelor of Nursing Science Honours Degree. We managed to get cooperative agreements with the public and private sectors for the placements of our students, to enable them to do their practical, as required. By doing so, they fulfil their practical expectations, and those of the training institution.
MN: On average, how many students are enrolled every year and what are you doing to increase the number of health students?
AVD: Every year the faculty enrols 45 to 50 students. We would like to increase the number, but unfortunately places at hospitals and clinics are limited, and resources to supervise student nurses, during practical sessions, are a challenge.
MN: How do you keep up to date with changes in the profession?
AVD: We keep up to date with changes in the profession through different ways. For example, through international collaboration with different organisations, such the International Nursing Council and Sigma Theta Tau International (the Honour Society of Nursing) and universities, such as the University of Cape Town. In addition, one always has to keep updating, through further studies and attending conferences.
MN: Just what do you do for a little fun?
AVD: Although I have a very busy schedule, I make time to listen to music, read a good book, do embroidery, knitting and socialise with friends.
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